March 07, 2005

Ode to the Ford Falcon

Snapshots In My Time, Of My Time.....Hauntings.
4 years of college

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Imagine this car in a light blue color. This was the car I had in college. It was our 3rd mom had her, my father had his , also new and I had the 3rd car. The ford falcon. It was a very old car as I was in college from 1979-1983. That little car could go and go and GO! It never broke down. I would pile friends in it on the weekends and off to the clubs we would go.

You would think that I would be ashamed to drive it , but I was not. I did not have to buy my own car. My parents just let me drive this one. That was good enough for me. My last year in college it began to give a little trouble. I was not sure what. If I had any car problems at all, I would simply call my father and he would take care of it for me. At the time I did not realize it was a vintage car complete with a club, conventions and everything else.


The Ford Motor Company produced the Falcon family of vehicles from 1960 through the 1970 model years. Everything from sedans to vans to innovative small trucks could be ordered with the Falcon emblem. Originally envisioned as a compact economy car, Falcons evolved through four distinct body style phases. Of these, model years 1963-1965 are considered to be the most collectible. In the first five years of its existence, the Falcon marque transitioned from bare bones econo-boxes to an array of small cars offering sporty convertibles, as well as exciting V-8 powered cars.

The Falcon truck, called the Ranchero, began its life in 1957 as part of the Fairlane lineup. In 1960, the design was drastically restyled to align itself with the Falcon design family. It continued to be a highly successful part of the Falcon line until 1966, when Ford began to market it separately from the rest of the Falcons. In 1967, this divorce was formalized when the Ranchero rejoined the Fairlanes. It enjoyed great sales success for many years afterwards in that role.

My last year of college, my parents bought me a brand new car. My falcon was traded in for a few hundred dollars. All the time we had that car my father was constantly being approached to sell it. Peolple wanted that car. BAD! It was a collectible car. I got my new navy chevy cavalier and the falcon was gone. I hated to see it go. About a week after the sale, my mother heard that a man had bought the falcon and had had a serious wreck in it. She was afraid. I do not know why. She called me up and said that a man ..whoever had bought it from the dealership had a bad wreck and that because of me getting my new car, I had gotten them or would get them into trouble. I told her that was the most ignorant thing I had ever heard. The car was no longer ours. We have traded it to the dealership and the sale and the wreck to whoever got it had nothing to do with us. She was all mad at me and yelling about it.

What did we have to do with the sale of the falcon by the dealerhsip? Nothing. What did we have to do with the wreck? Also nothing. The buyer of any car has the responsibility to check out a new purchase. That was yet another case of me being blamed for things I had nothing to do with or ever would. I could not win that verbal battle with her. I finally just gave up and said my final word on it....that we have nothing to do with the resale of that car by the dealership.

I was thinking to myself thank goodness we sold that car when we did. It could have been me in that very bad wreck.

Now the ford falcon lives on and on and on. They have become a hiphop cars know: Pimp my Ride and all that jazz! Long live the Ford Falcon. At least I had the pleasure of driving one for 4 years. It was not pimped out, but it did the trick as far as transportation. I found this next article about Falcons in the hood!

Flying with the Falcon Boys

San Francisco Chronicle

With the bass on a Rick James song thumping so loud his white leather seats vibrated, Dave Johnson cruised down MacArthur Boulevard in a chromed-up cloud of cool.

Behind the wheel of his 1968 candy-apple-red Ford Falcon, 38-year-old Johnson is a member of East Oakland's ghetto glitterati -- the Falcon Boys.

Every urban city has its signature car, and in Oakland, the baddest ride around is the Falcon. First popularized in the city in late '80s, the Ford Falcon now is a cultural icon of the hip-hop generation, featured in rapper Too Short's videos and in the lyrics of Vallejo rapper Little Bruce and New York's DMX."Everybody looks at the Falcon," Johnson said as mourners outside a funeral home craned their necks to watch him drive past.

Today, only a couple of dozen late-model '60s Falcons remain in Oakland, lovingly restored and passed down from one Falcon Boy to the next. To own one is to get standing ovations at the liquor store, high fives at the gas station and quite a few phone numbers from the ladies.

"They are old cars, but we turn them into new because new cars cost too much," said Falcon Boy Byron "Bop Bonafied" Jackson, 36. "That TV show 'Pimp My Ride' came out in 2004. But we've been pimpin' our rides forever!"

Before police banned impromptu car shows at the Eastmont Mall in the '90s, Falcon Boys regularly would park in the mall parking lot on weekends, open their doors and show off their handiwork and their sound systems.

Those original parked "sideshows" have transformed, a generation later, into illegal car-spinning street rallies, and although Falcons sometimes make an appearance at the underground ones, they don't flip their cars because they're too precious, said Falcon Boy Kenny McElroy.

About 30 Falcon Boys live in Oakland, most of them making a living as driveway mechanics. Some make music, others have warehouse and service jobs, and some are unemployed. They typically take their cars out for drives on Sunday afternoons in small groups of two and three, or meet for all-day repair sessions. The majority are in their late 30s, family guys who describe themselves as a bit mellowed from their younger, wilder days. Some have rap sheets, some don't.

But the one thing they have in common is that teenage memory of watching the glossy Ford Falcons roll down Birch Street in East Oakland to the delight of everyone in sight.

"It was the car they could afford to buy," said Brian Lilla, an Oakland filmmaker who is making the first-ever documentary about the Falcon Boys. "Nobody else wanted the Falcon."

At the time, in the late '70s, Falcons could be found for about $200. Today, a fixed-up Falcon can fetch up to $20,000. A mystique arose around the car that exists to this day.

"Every time you go out with these guys, it's like you're in a parade," Lilla said.

Cars pull over to make way for the Falcons as they drive like a school of fish down the road, casually making four and five lanes out of two. When the pack needs to turn left, one Falcon Boy breaks away and blocks oncoming traffic to let the rest of the posse pass through.

It's driving by birthright, yet no one complains. The sight of all those gold rims and sparkle paint is a symbol of Oakland pride.

"These cars are special. Their duty is to go into any turf and just represent Oakland," said Falcon Boy Corey "C.B." Blacksher, 31. "You get mad respect anywhere you go."

Mostly the Falcon Boys roll in the Bay Area, but they also make annual pilgrimages to Reno for the weeklong Hot August Nights car festival, where they can display their Falcons before thousands.

Johnson said he'd seen dope fiends break down crying when he drove past, remembering the cars they used to own decades ago before frittering away all their money on their addiction.

"They miss that feeling they had when they used to drive one," he said.

Every year at prom time, he gets requests from teenagers to be their driver. When he pulled up last year with the homecoming king and queen, he drew a crowd so large he was hemmed in.

Each Falcon Boy strives for a unique flair with his car: a rare color, better technology, a bigger engine.

Wood Gaines, 38, chopped the top off his Falcon to turn it into a convertible, then moved the steering wheel to the right side.

"It's European style," he said, "Nobody in the world has a Falcon like mine."

Quan Lubin, 26, has miniature flat-screen televisions on the visors and behind the head rests. He put in a V-8 engine and a triple air-horn.

"We help each other find parts because they don't make Falcon parts new anymore," Lubin said. "We have to look on the Internet, go to junkyards and make parts ourselves sometimes."

Their love for their cars is so strong that sometimes Falcon Boys make decisions between the rent and replacement tires. Cars will often cycle back between cousins and friends when Falcon Boys are forced to sell their cars to pay legal bills or other debts.

Johnson's Falcon at one time has belonged to his cousin Kenny McElroy, a towing yard, a couple in Petaluma and a man in Santa Rosa. In the mid-'90s, McElroy spotted the car on blocks, wrecked, in a Richmond driveway and persuaded the owner to sell it back. Johnson put an engine in but then sold it to his stepson's father when he needed cash. Now, it's Johnson's again -- he traded chrome Cadillac rims for the Falcon.

"These cars mean a lot in the ghetto," said Johnson, a shipping supervisor at Bryant Laboratory in Berkeley. "On the freeway, people in Cadillacs and Escalades will pull up alongside and wave. It makes you feel good that high-class people say we've done good."

In an amazing bit of street serendipity, the license plate randomly assigned to Johnson's car reads 3GET075. He loves that if you look closely, it seems to say "Ghetto." He put a frame around it that reads, "Happiness Is Being Single."

"In the '80s, girls used to run into the street and stop Falcons. They'd go stupid," Johnson said.

Riding shotgun next to your man in a Falcon is still a thrill, said Hayatt Mohammad, who has been dating a Falcon Boy for the last four years. When she goes out for a ride, she dresses in skirts and heels in green and black to match the car's color theme. It's a must to look good because the Falcon is a head-turner, she said.

"It makes you feel expensive, and the nice cars make the guys feel like they have a lot of money or something," she said.

Now that she's an official Falcette, she says, there is a noticeable difference between regular men and Falcon Boys.

"Falcon Boys are more active -- they ride around and take you places like to San Francisco and to car shows," she said. "The other guys I dated were kinda boring. They went to movies, but really didn't want to do too much."

Although female attention is a nice perk, in truth the lure of the Falcon is the same thing that inspired legions of little boys to collect miniature Hot Wheels cars -- the pride of owning a bitchin' ride.

"Look around at all these guys out here," said Mohammad's boyfriend, Deano Paris, surveying the eight Falcons parked for an impromptu social hour one Sunday afternoon in December in the empty parking lot of the Foothill Square shopping center.

The Falcon Boys had parked in a circle, opened their doors and pumped up the bass, drawing a crowd of nostalgic onlookers eager to check under the hood, compare paint jobs and kick the tires.

"Some say we do it for the girls, but see all the guys? These cars are saying, 'See what I do? See what I'm worth?' " Paris said. "We may not be stockbrokers in ties, but if we sold our Falcs, we're worth at least $30,000!"

On his way home from Foothill Square, Johnson was pulled over by a patrolman. The entire pack of Falcons stopped behind him to wait.

Although it was not yet sundown, the officer gave Johnson a $140 ticket for driving without headlights -- a fine a judge would dismiss later.

"See! See what happens to us! Profiling!" shouted one of the Falcon Boys down the street.

"It was an honest mistake," Johnson said to the officer to no avail.

Still fuming on his way home, he popped an Al Green CD into the stereo -- the music he plays when he has a lady in the car.

Johnson started humming along. Within a few minutes, he hit the Falcon zone.

He just knew everything was going to be all right.


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