YOUR 1963 FALCON SPRINT I.D . PLEASE!
by Al Aiello, November, 2004
Few would argue that the 1963-1965 Falcon Sprints are the most popular birds of the species. Your favorite Falcon model may not be a Sprint, but the market indicates that 1963-1965 Sprints, both hardtops and convertibles, are the most sought after Falcons and command the highest prices.
In an attempt to learn more about the true identity of the Sprint models, lets take a look at each of the Sprint models beginning with the 1963 year. Technically, the first Sprints were 1963 ½ models due to their mid year introduction. Other mid-year offerings included V-8 options for all of the other Falcon models.
Unfortunately, Ford Motor Company did not do a good job documenting the 1963 Sprint models with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or the Model Code. The VIN is stamped into the top of the inner fender on the drivers side of the engine compartment. The Data Plate (sometimes referred to as the warranty plate) is located on the rear portion of the drivers door and is clearly visible when the door is opened.
This beautiful and genuine 1963 Falcon Sprint Convertible belongs to SCFF Member Ray Johnson. It is one of the most popular 63 Sprints on the Internet. Ray recently typed his VIN and Door Plate codes into a decoder at another website and was really surprised when his car was identified as a 63 Sprint Convertible, and a photo of HIS car popped up and indicated it should look like this! This photo was taken by Ray at a recent cruise to the Presidio in San Francsisco.
The VIN does exactly what its name implies. It is the official identifier of the vehicle. Because this number is stamped into the metal at the factory and used in official ownership records, it cannot be altered without a great deal of trickery. On the other hand, the Data Plate is riveted to the drivers door and can be removed or lost if the door is replaced. Data Plates are reproduced by after-market suppliersso be wary. The Data Plate also includes the VIN, and other information about the car such as the type of model, engine, trim, colors, axle, transmission, etc.
The first digit in the VIN is the year of the vehicle. In this case, it is a “3”, for 1963. The second digit identifies the assembly plant for the vehicle. For example, an “H” identifies the Lorrain, Ohio facility. The next digits in the VIN are important to the identification process because they identify the Series or model of the vehicle.
In the case of 63 Sprints, a 17 series indicates the vehicle is a Sprint or Futura Hardtop. There is not a separate or distinct series for the Sprint. For Sprint and Futura Convertibles, they share the 15 series number.
Going next to the Data Plate, assuming one is still there, we should make sure the VIN on the plate is the same one stamped into the engine compartment. The model code listed on the plate contains the most important information in the identification process. The model code for the Sprint Hardtop is 63C, and the model code of the Sprint Convertible is 76B. However, these codes are the same for their Futura counterparts (hardtop and convertible) with bucket seats. Strike two!
So now that we have the numbers out of the way, lets review the physical differences and visual cues that support the validity of a Sprint. First of all there were three different transmissions available on the Sprint models. Choices included a three speed manual transmission (column shifted), four speed manual (floor mounted) and a two-speed automatic. However, only one engine was available in the 1963 Sprint, and that engine was the 260 V-8. There have been rumors that early Sprints could be had with a 6 cylinder. I have never seen one, but would love to hear from you if you have some documentation regarding one.
This beautiful 1963 Sprint Hardtop is own by Neil Lenard from California. Note the F-A-L-C-O-N lettering accross the rear trunk panel.
All Sprints had F-A-L-C-O-N block letters across the rear portion of the car. Non-Sprint hardtops and convertibles had F-U-T-U-R-A letters across the back. If you question the validity of a Sprint, then open the trunk and check for signs of filled-in holes for the F-U-T-U-R-A block letters that may have been replaced with F-A-L-C-O-N letters.
Sprint models have a definitive S-P-R-I-N-T script and V-8 emblems on the front fenders. The Futura and Sprint models share the same spear on the front fenders and the same side trim on the remainder of the car. However, the trim on a Futura model is painted either black or white, and not painted on a Sprint. There are distinctive S-P-R-I-N-T emblems located on the pillars of the car.
The interior of the Sprint has some distinct differences compared to its Futura counterpart. The Sprint has a special 16″ faux wood grain steering wheel, the hub of which has distinctive SPRINT lettering and two racing flags. A special 6,000 RPM SPRINT Tachometer is mounted at the top center of the instrument panel. A special SPRINT emblem (instead of a Futura emblem) appears on the glove compartment trim. Sprints were equipped with bucket seats and a center console, but so were many Futura models.
In the engine compartment, more visual clues exist for the Sprint model. A special Sprint V-8 emblem was used on the left side valve cover. The Sprint also had a special chrome package including a chromed air cleaner, oil filler cap and valve covers.
In short, be aware that the 1963 Sprint Hardtops and Convertibles shared the same series and model identification numbers as their Futura brethren. There were 10,479 Sprint Hardtops (series 17, model 63C), and 10,972 Futura Hardtops with Bucket Seats (series 17, model 63C) produced in 1963. There were 17,524 Futura Hardtops with bench seats (series 17, model 63B) produced that same year. There were 4,602 Sprint convertibles (series 15, model 76B), and 12,250 Futura convertibles with bucket seats (series 15, model 76B) produced in 1963. There were 18,942 Futura Convertibles with bench seats (series 15, model 76A) produced that same year. If you look at the above production and ID numbers, the rarity of the 1963 Sprints is evident (especially Sprint Convertibles) and the potential for deception, or at least confusion, is present.
A prospective buyer should ask a seller for any written documentation that could document the authenticity of the car. Surprisingly, many cars will exchange owners along with the original purchase order, sales receipt, or other important information.
In writing this article, it was not my intention to infer that Sprint owners would deliberately be dishonest about the validity of their cars. As cars change hands over the years, and prices continue to escalate, let the buyer beware. I’ve researched this topic, but its possible that I made errors, so any person wanting to identify a ’63 Sprint should conduct their own research. My next article will discuss the identification of 64 Sprints. Fortunately, Ford did a better job in that year. <End>
NoteThis is the first of a series of articles that I will write about the identification of Falcon Sprints