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1964 Ford Falcon Futura - All-Motor Man

John Urgo Likes Runnin' 10s The Hard Way. And With A Clutchless Four-Speed!

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Every car has a story. It's just that some are more interesting than others. The best ones begin back when the car was new. John Urgo didn't buy this car new. His grandfather was the one who plunked down a couple large in 1964 for a Falcon with a 260ci V-8 and a three-speed on the column. Fast-forward to 1988, when the little Ford finds its way into John's possession, instantly becoming fodder for a string of increasingly more powerful engines. It's the American way.

Once John took on the task of updating the Futura, his first effort was to chuck the little 260 for a bigger Windsor that ran 12.30s. John and his dad, John Sr., built the motor backed by a Top Loader four-speed, and that effort was worth a gratifying 12.30 on pump gas. Some of this performance can be attributed to the fact that a Falcon Futura weighs less than Anna Nicole did before her latest fasting program. In fact, even with a 9-inch rear and a chrome-moly roll bar, the Falcon barely scales out at 3,200 pounds.

Low-12s were nice for a year or so, but once the budget had a chance to recuperate, a bigger cam and heads found their way into the 351, which pushed the little Ford into the 11s. You know how the story goes next, right? Tens became too attractive, so John bolted on a small nitrous kit and soon was running 10.30s. That was fun until the combination of too many revs and too much cylinder pressure did in a connecting-rod bearing and the fun meter hit the red zone. And that's when the horsepower escalation program took shape.

The details on the CFO-built Windsor can be found in the Tech Notes, but it's worth noting that 700 hp divided by 358 ci is all but 2 hp per cubic inch. Of course, when you're squeezin' 14.9:1 compression, that pushes the pony count up a couple of notches. Even this kind of power in a light car is hardly cause for headlines, but sprinkle in the idea that John pulls the handle on a Jerico four-speed, and now we're talkin' true musclecar malevolence.

The clutch pedal is stock, and John hasn't really had to turn it into a bridge support. The McLeod Soft Lok clutch only has 20 pounds of static load on it with the rest all dialed into centrifugal force once the rpm comes up. With that little base, the clutch pedal at idle feels more like the pedal in a Focus than a 10-second street car. But the real fun starts when John lets the pedal fly. With more than a 15:1 overall First-gear ratio, he drops the clutch and pulls the handle into Second almost instantly. The McLeod clutch is designed to slip ever-so-slightly on the launch so it doesn't tear up parts by using a lightweight flywheel and pressure-plate assembly. For upshifts, "All I do is nip the clutch and it falls into gear," John says. "I love it." He can also quickly tune the clutch for different track conditions, and all this works to the tune of 1.33 60-foot times. Think a rabid four-speed isn't consistent? In five straight passes in Las Vegas, the car ran between 10.11 and 10.15. John can also make 45 to 50 passes before he even thinks about maintenance. Nice.

The little Falcon now has more than 260,000 miles on the original clock, but it's fair to say that most of those were before this latest generation engine and drivetrain. It still sports its original black and gold license plates, and except for the deep rear gear, you could consider this a street car, right down to the in-dash CD player and stock upholstery.

John admits, "Yeah, it's a bit stiff on the freeway...and the trans is a little noisy. But, hey, it's got a 29-inch-tall tire, so it's not bad. Mostly, I just take surface streets." Quickly, we're sure.

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