Ford Falcon EL
In the 90’s Ford was in a titanic struggle with General Motors Holden to capture the family car market. It was Falcon verses Commodore.
Ford’s EL Falcon was released in 1996 at the height of the struggle, and was designed to give Ford the edge over Holden’s VS II Commodore released earlier in that year.
Ford Australia spent $40 million in refinement of the EL series replacing the EF series released in 1994.
Many of the problems with the EF series were address in the EL, so it was not surprising that the developers were looking to improve steering and handling, and reduce noise in the cabin. According to critics at the time, the EF Falcon had problems with driver handling and to many it felt as if the front of the vehicle wasn’t working with the back.
Ford addressed these concerns by dropping the pivot point of the rear axle and the steering of the GLi and Futura received less power assistance. The improvement in steering was noticeable, making the EL one of the most responsive domestic cars on the market.
Under the bonnet very little else was changed in the EL with the same straight 6-cylinder motor. Unfortunately because of this, the new Falcons had many of the problems of its predecessor. The head cylinder suffers from the same problems as earlier models and the water pump has a tendency to fail.
Interior design was still not as ‘finished’ as Japanese imports at the time, but the EL Falcon’s noise reduction in the cabin was improved with more noise dampening and thicker windows. It still wasn’t as quiet as its competition, but it was a noticeable difference from the series it replaced.
With competition strong amongst car makers in the late 90’s there was a focus on providing ‘extras’ to the consumer. So most models of the time came with improved standard features and the EL was no different.
Even the base model GLi was packed with features including; driver's airbag, power steering, electrically adjustable exterior mirrors, steering column adjustable for both height and reach, dual height and lumbar adjustments, tinted glass, a four-speaker electronic-tune sound system, split folding rear seat, built-in mobile phone wiring and a service interval indicator and a tachometer.
Security was also extensively upgraded with keyless entry including the boot and fuel cap, and engine immobilization.
Finally the car was given a new look with a grill added to the front of the vehicle and slight changes to the headlights. Some critics claimed that the changes to the design didn’t go far enough and there were opportunities missed in fixing headlighting problems found in earlier models.
The EL was the last E-range of vehicles from Ford on the Australian market and it was replaced in 1998 by the AU, the biggest change in Ford for a decade. The AU was to replace the EF, but not wanting to rush the release of the AU and the need to upgrade the EF to compete with the release of the VT Commodore, the EL was born.