THE SONOMA COUNTY FALCONS
The Rally Falcons
The 1963 Ford Falcon Sprint was the impetus for Ford's participation in the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally--This one belongs to Ray and Cecilia Johnson (Santa Rosa, CA). All of the Rallye Falcons were hardtops and none were convertibles. The Falcon convertible was introduced in 1963.
This '63 Sprint Hardtop owned by club member Alex Gerrits (San Jose, CA) sees track time on a regular basis.
Computerized "line art" of 63 Monte Carlo Falcon
|Mr. Merwin had quite a
task ahead of him. He was putting a team together that would compete in a Rally event
different from the more sedate forms in this country, and most of the top rally drivers
were already under contract. He only had a few months to put a team together that had to
make a credible showing. Also, lets not forget that Ford was entering a vehicle that
had never been tested in a grueling European-type rally event.
When Merwin first met with officials in Monaco to discuss the participation of the Falcon in the Monte Carlo Rally event, they were excited to learn the Falcon would participate in the event. Privately, they probably thought that a big American car (even the Falcon was considered large) would not have much of a chance on the narrow and winding roads that dominated most of the event.
Before progressing with this story, some of you may need to be enlightened on the competitive and scoring aspects of the Monte Carlo event to appreciate the rigors that the Ford rally team faced. The entrants selected separate starting points across Europe and began a nonstop 2,500 mile drive in mid-winter.
The drivers and co-drivers (navigators) spent four days and three nights on the road battling fatigue and the challenges of the dangerous roads. A team was penalized 30 points every time it was late to a control center. In addition to the regular time stations, there were several all-out speed sections where the quicker your time, the lower your overall score.
These special sections were full-bore speed runs that tested the abilities of drivers and their machines. The objective to win was to score the fewest overall points. A European Rally would be rigorous in the summer time, but the Monte Carlo Rally was held in mid-January and the roads were full of ice, snow, and danger.
The Ford Motor Company did not scrimp on the budget for the Monte Carlo campaign. As noted earlier, George Merwin was selected as the Competition Manager, and Jeff Uren was selected as the Team manager due to his experience with British Rally teams. Three specially equipped Falcons needed to be prepared for the 1963 Monte Carlo event.
Jeff Uren was previously the Competition Manager for Ford of England. He was highly organized and assisted Merwin with the selection of available drivers. One of their most important duties was to immediately select three Rally teams. Each team would be composed of a Driver and a Navigator. Two teams would be composed of men, and the other team would be a composed of women.
One driver that was high on the list was Bosse Ljungfeldt--also known a Bo. Bo was a large man with an easy smile and he loved competition. At that time he was under contract with Ford of England to drive a Cortina in the Swedish Midnite Rally.
A quick phone call to Ford of Sweden made it possible for Bo to join the rally team. Gunnar Haggbom, also a Swede with considerable rally experience, was selected to navigate for Bosse. Gunnar was highly prized because he had been the navigator in the winning Saab at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1962.
For the second rally team, Peter Jobb from Great Britain was selected along with American Trent Jarman. Peter had a background in amateur motor racing and rallying. Trant was a sales manager for Car and Driver Magazine and had competed in several Canadian rallies which were similar to European rallies.
For the third team, Anne Hall from Great Britain was selected. She was one of the best rally drivers in Europe and had recently won the top womens prize in the Alpine Rally. Her navigator was a Scottish woman named Margaret McKensie.
With all the teams now selected, support drivers and mechanics were needed. George met with the public affairs director for Ford of England. He recommended that George meet with Bob Scrunton who was the managing Director of Lincoln Cars Ltd. in England. This was a good choice because Lincoln Ltd. was a Ford subsidiary that imported all Ford products built outside of England. Their mechanics were familiar with American iron and a deal was struck for space and mechanics.
With drivers and support in place, George and Jeff headed to the United States to meet with John Holman who was President of Holman and Moody. Mr. Holman was informed about what was needed to have a Falcon finish the rally, and hopefully make it a contender for a top prize.