When Tickford joined forces with Ford Australia in the early 1990’s to create the EB XR6 and XR8 Falcon’s, in my opinion it was a return to form for the company. For nine long years a V8 engine wasn’t offered in the Falcon range, leaving many Ford enthusiasts unsatisfied. As a ten year old, I remember reading a copy of Wheels magazine that featured the then new EB Falcon S XR8 with the 5.0 litre V8 Windsor engine. I really liked the understated styling combined with the V8 and 5 speed manual gearbox. After seeing the EB XR8 as a young fella, I wanted to own an XR Falcon at some point in my life. I always liked the Ford Falcon EL XR6’s and was excited to learn that it was just as fast as the early series EL XR8’s. It had less power and torque than the XR8 but at 1527kg it was 40kg lighter.
In 2005, I decided to purchase a dark blue 1997 EL XR6 with the five speed manual gearbox and it had the optional 16 inch Tickford alloys that really enhanced the look of the car. The XR6 had the Tickford enhanced 4.0 litre inline 6 cylinder engine that produced 164kW of power and 366Nm of torque. The engine featured an alloy cylinder head, single overhead camshaft and two valves per cylinder. Tickford cars had a more aggressive camshaft and a free flowing exhaust resulting in power and torque increases over the standard models. It certainly wasn’t a high revving engine but had plenty of torque and was best through 3rd and 4th gear higher speed corners. The big rear wheel drive sedan had a limited slip differential and put its power down quite well, particularly when a set of Bridgestone Potenza Adrenalin’s were fitted. Back in 1997, it was a fast as the XR8 with a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds and a quarter mile time of 15.5 seconds.
Steering feedback was a real highlight and you could tell that it had been tuned well for Australian conditions. The EL range had recalibrated suspension and steering systems and was much more surefooted than the earlier EF’s. It was a great car for long highway drives but due to it being quite heavy suffered from body roll and wasn’t too composed when asked to change direction suddenly. It was a fun car to drive on dirt roads and absorbed bumps particularly well.
I liked the exterior look of the car with the quad headlights but although they looked good didn’t offer great lighting. The car I bought didn’t have the optional body kit but that wasn’t much of a concern. The interior featured a nice Momo sports steering wheel and gear knob along with the basic cloth interior. Other positives were that it was a very practical car with a large boot, it sat five people comfortably and servicing and parts were cheap. Unfortunately interior trim wasn’t particularly durable and roof lining was prone to falling off. I also felt that you sat too high and the position of the gear level wasn’t ideal.
I found that the brakes were never up to scratch for such a heavy car and machining and replacing rotors was common. Vibration through the steering wheel under braking was also unsettling. The throttle cable was a weak point where it went through the firewall and my car required reinforcement in this area.
I enjoyed this car for seven years before selling it in 2012. It’s such a shame that in 2014 the Falcon XR6 and XR8 range was discontinued. In my opinion, they were the pick of Ford’s lineup for many years and I’m sure they will be missed among Australian motoring enthusiasts. Falcon EL XR6’s are now quite cheap to buy and they marked an important part in Ford Australia’s history.