Ford Falcon ED-EL XR6 - Buyer's Guide

By: Cliff Chambers

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ford falcon xr6 ford falcon xr6

After watching Holden run away with the sporty sedan market Ford countered with the surprising XR6

 

Ford Falcon ED-EL XR6

Ford Australia in the early 1980s had been absolutely blindsided by a world market that predicted the imminent death of V8 engines and performance cars in general.

A decade later and after having to watch Holden run away with the sporty sedan market, Ford finally countered with a predictably sporty XR8 and the surprising XR6. It didn’t have the growl but delivered pretty much the same power as the V8, sharper handling and had the edge in practicality.

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First word of a sporty Falcon six came with the addition of a 161kW S Pack to the EBII range. The first stand-alone XR6 was the ED version, released in 1993.

| Read next: Ford Falcon EB-EL GT/XR8/Sprint market review

Lifting the standard engine’s output to 161kW involved revised cylinder head porting, stronger valve springs and an increase in compression ratio. The exhaust changed as well but a lot of people weren’t happy with Ford’s approach. If you could stand some extra noise at highway speeds, after-market systems were more efficient and cheaper than Ford’s single to dual then back to single mess.

The differential ratio was lowered a little to trigger improved mid-range acceleration yet top speed was an achievable 215km/h.

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Differentiating the XR6 from other EDs was a distinctive four-light nose and unobtrusive boot spoiler. Trim was bland, with durable cloth on the seats and cabin plastics that lasted longer than most when exposed to constant sunlight.

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Loads of seat adjustment and a steering column that moved vertically would allow almost anyone to be comfortably seated in an XR6 for hours on end. That was particularly useful for those who ran frequently between major cities such as Sydney-Brisbane. With a 68-litre tank capacity and Highway Cycle consumption of 9L/100km, the trip could be completed with a single fuel stop and mid-point driver swap.

The EF update in 1994 brought an elongated nose, bonnet flutes and a 3kW power increase. There was an expanded range of colours too, but this would be the last appearance of the XR6 station wagon that had debuted with the ED range.

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Ford claimed that EL versions sold from 1996-98 were quieter than any previous Falcon, due to additional sound deadening and improved construction procedures. Certainly the customers seemed impressed and EL XR6 sales topped 3600 units. Cars sold after October 1997 included previously optional 16 inch alloys and air-conditioning as standard.

Although at least 20 years old, these Falcons still recommend themselves as enjoyable and practical everyday transport. They were the first Falcons with a driver-side air-bag standard and one for the passenger optional, although whether the actuators still work after 20 years is something that can’t be checked. They all had ABS as standard but XR6 brakes are a weak point.

MARKET REVIEW

XR6s should today rank as iconic Aussie performance cars yet they are virtually ignored and the best rarely sell for more than $6000. If you want a runabout with a bit of style and grunt, $3000 buys a decent car. Five-speed manuals command a small price premium and the scarce ED-EF wagons are $1500 dearer than sedans.

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Sad fact is that XR6s were for too long regarded as cheap performance fodder to be thrashed or crashed and replaced. Any major mechanical failure would see the car scrapped without a second thought.

Cars to look with the future in mind will be low-km manuals in colours other than white or red. If a car looks the goods, get it checked by a body expert for previous repairs. Poor-quality work causes vibration and handling woes and in years ahead will let water in everywhere. Cars with upgraded, after-market brakes are worth having as well but don’t pay ridiculous money.

VALUE RANGE:  Falcon ED-el XR6

Fair: $2000
Good: $4800
Excellent: $7000
(Note: concours cars will demand more)

BODY & CHASSIS

1990s Fords seem less prone than other cars of their era to rust so one with bubbling around the wheel arch edges, sills and doors or showing evidence of body filler will likely be neglected in other ways as well. Check the battery tray for corrosion. Broken locating clips on the one-piece bumper/air-dam result in rattles and uneven gaps. Boot seals can leak so check for dampness which can promote rust and affect operation of the rear lights. Replacement headlights come as high/low beam pairs at around $400 each. Higher wattage bulbs will improve night vision but generate more heat and blow more often.

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ENGINE & TRANSMISSION

Ford overhead cam engines are known oil leakers. Head gaskets also fail and only lucky owners will manage 200,000 kilometres without a problem. Most common cure involves replacing the original head with an AU unit. EFs were the only XRs with coil packs and misfiring will likely be down to a failed pack. Ford specialists recommend replacing all of the packs at once but that costs plenty. The five-speed manual transmission is clunky in its action but durable. Four-speed autos last seemingly forever, just getting rougher and noisier as they age. Replacing a worn auto is cheaper than fixing it.

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

Original discs will almost certainly be gone; hopefully replaced by better quality rotors that are less prone to warping and premature wear. Check that the handbrake holds the car on a moderate slope and doesn’t require brute force to release it. Also find a stretch of quiet road to test the ABS. Look carefully at the alloy wheels for cracks, especially to the inner edges. Cars that have been retro-fitted with bigger diameter wheels and lower-profile tyres will deliver a harsh ride unless the springs and suspension bushes have also been replaced.

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INTERIOR & ELECTRICS

Fords of this age feature the frustratingly unreliable Smartlock central locking system. Doors might not lock at all, stay locked when they should be open or even unlock themselves as you are walking away from the car. Some cars had complete system replacements under warranty and the problems recurred. Seat frames can bend or crack under the weight of hefty occupants and original seat belts will by now be needing replacement. Air-conditioners need to be tested and can swallow $1500 in the case of a major repair. Lucky buyers may find a car with the trip computer and cruise control still functioning.

1993-1998 Ford Falcon ED-EL XR6

Number built: 12,700 (approx) ED-EL
Body: steel, integrated body/chassis, four-door sedan & station wagon
Engine: 4089cc six-cylinder with overhead camshaft and fuel injection
Power & torque: 161kW @ 5000rpm, 366kW @ 3150rpm (ED)
Performance: 0-100km/h 7.6 seconds, 15.5 seconds (ED manual)
Transmission: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Suspension: independent with coil springs, struts, wishbones anti-roll bar (f) live axle with coil springs, locating links and telescopic shock absorbers (r)
Brakes: disc (f) disc (r) power assisted with ABS
Tyres: 205/65 R15 radial

 

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