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Australia’s best concepts: 1969 Ford Falcon SurferRoo

By Daniel Gardner, 15 Jun 2017 Features

Australia’s best concepts: 1969 Ford Falcon SurferRoo

Ford’s Falcon SurferRoo is the grandfather of the modern ute, but the three prototypes were sold off in dealerships for what now seems like the bargain of the century.

PERHAPS the 1969 Ford XW SurferRoo doesn’t quite qualify as one of Australia’s best concepts as it was technically a production vehicle – albeit with a manufacturing run of just three.

The extremely limited batch was created for motor shows but, unusually for such a promotional tool, they were later put up for sale in dealerships for what seems a very reasonable $3000 (about $35,000 in today’s money). Can you imagine what Ford would be asking these days if it had three unique show vehicles up for sale?

Also, unlike other rare and ageing show cars, the whereabouts of all three are still known and their values are estimated to be in the region of $80,000 each. A shrewd investment one might say.

It may appear to be some kind of tongue-in-cheek stunt and a bit of fun, but the show cars were actually created to gauge public interest in a recreational version of the Falcon.

Its name was a play on the moniker of the XW Falcon GT 351 Super Roo of the same year. While many American muscle cars of the era were decorated with cartoon mascots, the Super Roo had a kangaroo with spinning wheels instead of legs and the SurferRoo continued the parody with a board-riding macropod.

The most obvious modification for the Falcon concept is its ute tray and massive spoiler, which appears to be a reversed version of the wing found on the boot of the Plymouth Superbird – also 1969 – a model personified by the Warner Bros cartoon Road Runner.

Actually, the spoiler was not an aerodynamic feature but worked in conjunction with a second smaller fin fitted to the roof of the cab, which enabled surfboards to be carried without compromising load space in the ute tray.

What the special edition was based on remains unclear, as engineers at the time simply plucked a model from the manufacturing lines and got to work, but the standard Falcon or Falcon 500 are the most likely candidates.

Power was courtesy of a 5.0-litre V8 (302 Windsor) and torque was fed to the rear axle via a four-speed transmission.

In its tray, the load area was decked out – quite literally – with timber boards flanked by fibreglass seats, while its interior was the Fairmont specification of the day, which meant adjustable sports seats and steering wheel and the ‘rally pack’ dashboard.

Initial interest in the car was deemed as less than satisfactory and the concept of a more practical Falcon was shelved, leaving the idea open for Holden to weigh in with its own surf-inspired Sandman panel van and ute just a few years later.