18th November, 2004
In the early 1960s the Ford Falcon Futura Sprint competed successfully in the legendary Monte Carlo Rally. Last month, the same car made its comeback in the famous Mexican road race event La Carrera Panamericana.
Starting on 23rd October and finishing on 31st October 2004, the Ford Falcon Futura Sprint competed with a Swedish team of driver Mats Lindén and co-driver Ralf Christensson.
“When people realised what car I had brought to Mexico, they thought I was mad”, laughs Mats Lindén who is a former Swedish circuit racing champion. “One person even said that I was a lunatic racing a museum piece…”
The car is a Monte Carlo rally legend, having won all the stages in the 1963 event with Swedish driver Bo Ljungfeldt at the wheel. But he missed the overall victory by incurring penalty points during the transport stages because of deep snow on the way to Monte Carlo. Ljungfeldt is still the only driver to have won all the stages at Monte Carlo. Formula One driver Graham Hill raced a similar car in the 1963 rally.
Some 40 years later, Mats has renovated the Futura Sprint and it was prepared to race standards before sending it across the Atlantic.
“It was a bit of a last minute job” he confides, “Which gave us some problems during the first three days in the Carrera race. I had adjusted the ignition for the high altitudes in the mountains here and I had also made ventilation improvements in order to get the best possible airflow in the heat. Then I lost fourth gear and burnt out the clutch during the first stage of the race. It took us two days before we could get it fixed after working night and day”.
On the fourth day, however, it was time for the 4.7 litre Ford V8 to show its mettle. Mats started by being seventh in the class, a result that improved to second place after five days.
“The car went like a dream”, says Mats, “I have driven many race cars, but this one is definitely one of the best. It is rock steady on the road with lots of power since it only weighs 1,000 kg.”
Mats finished the gruelling Mexican road race at the legendary “La Bufa” stages where he ended up third in class despite this being his first attempt at the race. He is keeping the old factory Ford in the US for further race entries next year.
“We’ll see what comes up, but I will go back to Mexico for sure”, Mats says. “It is the last real road race in the world and it can only be held in a country like Mexico where there are lots of genuine race fans. We drove some 3,000 km from the south up to the Texas border at Laredo where the race ends”.
Facts on the Ford Falcon Futura Sprint entered in the Mexican “La Carrera Panamericana” race:
The Falcon Futura Sprint is homologated by the FIA for Historic car races in the Competition Touring Car class, period 1962–65.
Mats Linden and the
1963 Ford Falcon Futura Sprint