1996 Ford Falcon EF Futura Olympic Classic 4.0L from Australia and New Zealand


Owning a semi-reliable car that I can work on has benefited my wallet and mechanical expertise


Radiator cracked, and was replaced in the first year of ownership at a cost of around $450.

Transmission flaring just after the new radiator was installed, due to an incompetent mechanic who didn't secure the transmission lines correctly. Ford dealer identified the issue, and topped up the transmission fluid and sealed the lines for $100.

Courtesy lamp fuse (responsible for items such as the smartlock system and the radio wiring) blew, which prevented me from disengaging smartlock and starting the car one afternoon. A Google search and one of the Ford forums helped to identify this as the culprit; I would have never guessed.

Inhibitor switch failure, resulting in erratic gear switching and engine flaring. Had the transmission serviced and was told by the service centre that if the flaring continued, they would have to rebuild the transmission for around $2000. The flaring continued, but I wasn't buying the mechanic's story, and a bit of research indicated the inhibitor switch on the transmission could be causing the problems. Bought the part and changed it in my driveway - all fixed. The former switch had become entombed in mud over time, which was obviously shorting it out.

The heater had never worked in all my years of ownership. After changing the thermostat to an AU model and flushing the cooling system, the heater came back to life. The old thermostat looked like the wrong one. I'm sure there's a logical explanation to all this; I can't offer it though.

The power windows have been problematic; probably need to lubricate the runners, as they get stuck easily. I've had to replace a couple of switches and window regulators. I plan to replace the switches again soon, but for now they are out of action.

The headlight wiring and sockets had burnt out a couple of times, but after splicing in some heat resistant sockets, they've been working perfectly.

The horn has petered out lately.

General Comments:

The car isn't particularly interesting to drive, but it's gotten the job done for the last five or so years with minimal complications or costly repairs.

I had it converted to LPG soon after I bought it, and it has proven to be very economical considering the size of the vehicle. Even though LPG isn't as cheap as it once was, it's still preferable to petrol, and the loss of performance running on LPG is negligible.

The interior is quite dull and plastics fragile, but these issues don't concern me too much.

The seat fabrics are a bit rough, but they are holding up, and I've even managed to sleep in the car on a few occasions without being too uncomfortable.

If I had my time over, I would have installed a transmission cooler rather than rely on the radiator to cool the transmission fluid. When you're driving up hills in summer with the air conditioning on, you can tell the transmission would rather be elsewhere. It also takes away the risk of the two fluids coming into contact, leading to expensive repairs.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th January, 2013

1996 Ford Falcon XR8 Option 20 ex-chaser 5.0 from Australia and New Zealand


A big, reliable V8 cruiser with good looks and a gorgeous motor


Water pump bolt froze in the timing case, and as a result, the case and water pump both needed replacing.

Pulleys and alternator also recently needed replacing.

Fairly typical items for a car of this age.

General Comments:

As the previous owner of an EL XR6 auto, which wasn't at all short of poke, I naturally had the expectation that the V8 would prove to be an even better performer, especially being a manual transmission. Initially, I was a little disappointed. It may have shaded the six, but only very slightly. But, being a stock motor with famously restrictive manifolds, I saw and felt potential.

It's no secret that the 302 is no fire-breather, however, after a short while with the car, I realised it definitely had its strengths. The sweet, smooth and throbby motor not only has a gorgeous note, albeit quiet, but also a tremendous amount of torque. The benefit of which being able to just 'woof' through the gears, dropping into top at 60kms if need be. This not only makes for better fuel economy, but also makes the car an ideal cruiser. Further to the point, while the long legs of the transmission/differential may hinder acceleration, it invariably helps efficiency; not breaking a sweat at 100kmph (1800 rpm).

Since purchasing the car I have set to correcting a few major factory errors in my opinion. As I mentioned earlier, the design of the manifolds and air intake are appalling, and a contributing factor as to why the motor is only rated at 170kw and 400nm. First I had a set of Lukey extractors fitted, then a Redback cat-back exhaust with a single muffler for extra note, and finally, modified the air intake box and hosing for a more efficient intake. The result? Impressive. Three fairly minor modifications have made a considerable difference to the car's performance.

Now to the handling... I'll start with the good. For a car of its size, it handles the corners with ease, as if on rails. That is of course in the dry. This leads me to the bad. Add even a light sprinkling of moisture, morning dew etc. and you have a problem. You must change your style of driving and skillfully modulate your right foot when wet, or else end up in your neighbour's living room. Without wanting to dramatise, the EF's were known to have a slightly twitchy rear end, and so Ford set about rectifying the problem for the production of the EL.

In summary, I am not ashamed to say I love this car, and since I am neither a Holden nor a Ford man, prejudice doesn't play a role.

Put simply, the EF XR8 is a big, fun, sweet lump of a thing, that makes a nice noise, and provided you maintain her, won't kill you to run.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th May, 2012