The Ford Falcon is one of the most popular and highest selling cars in Australia. In size, it could be described as a large four-door sedan (though also available in station wagon, ute and long wheelbase variations). Australian Falcons have been traditionally powered by six cylinder engines in a straight-six configuration.
The Falcon was first sold in Australia in 1960 - the XK model. This car, although produced in Australia, was a direct copy of the Falcon designed for the U.S. market. As a result of this, the Falcon had a few issues with traversing rough Aussie roads - suspension problems were common. The consequent XL, XM and XP models featured strengthened suspension.
The next model, the XR, was released in 1966. It had the option of a V8 engine, and was boasted as being "Mustang-bred". The XR evolved into the XT, XW and XY models.
The next major model change the XA. The yanks had had enough of the Falcon, so the XA was pretty much entirely Australian designed and built.
After XB and XC, the XD arrived in 1981. In its day, the XD was considered one of the best looking cars in the world, and it was the first model that outsold the rival Holden. The XE and XF were evolutions of the XD, and were also good sellers for Ford.
Next, in 1988 came the EA. The EA was also a good-looker, but early reliability niggles and the pedestrian entry-level 3.3L throttle-body injected engine tarnished its image slightly. The EA became the much better EB, ED and highly successful EF and EL.
In 1998, Ford Australia released the AU. While technically very adept, the AU was generally thought to look awful. From some angles it was bulbous, others disproportionate, and from most, just plain strange. Sales suffered. Things improved, however, with the AU-II and looked quite a bit better by AU-III.
Most recently, in late 2002, the BA was released. After their AU nightmare, Ford spent $500 million on developing the BA (nicknamed "Barra"). From early reports, the BA looks to be an absolute little ripper.
Engine-wise, Falcons have been powered by straight-sixes, ranging from the 2.4L 67kW in the XK, to the 4.0L 182kW in the BA (yes, that's not a typo, the base model BA Falcon has a 182kW engine). V8s have been optional from XR to XE, but stupidly the V8 was dropped for XF and EA. Any Australian knows the importance of a V8 to Australian motoring culture. Ford re-introduced the V8 option on the EB, and has been around since. The XR to XE used the 5.8L Cleveland V8, and the EB-BA use the 5.0L Windsor V8.
Arguably, the most important Falcons produced were the GT models. These, starting from the XR GT were V8 powered monsters that were at home on the track as well as on the road. The XY GTHO (short for grand tourer, high output) Phase 3 is a legend in the world of Australian muscle cars. It was one of the fastest cars in the world when it was produced in 1971, capable of 228km/h. The Cleveland V8 was thought to have produced around 280kW. Models that came with a GT variant were XR, XT, XW, XY, XA, XB, EB and BA.
The Ford Falcon is a quintessential part of Australian culture, like Vegemite and Akubra hats. It is constantly compared with the Holden Commodore and many pub arguments have occurred over the relative merits of each of them. They are staunch rivals - in Australia, you're either a Ford Man or a Holden Man. If you say that you like hot hatches, you're presumed to be gay/retarded/looking for a fight.