By Meda Kessler
Photos by Ralph Lauer
This ’61 Falcon may not be show quality, but to its owner, this “not rod” is perfectly imperfect
The paint — Rangoon Red — is worn in places, but it still retains its colorful pop and is bright enough to turn heads. The rear panel on the driver’s side has a pair of small, distinct dents.
These imperfections are what make this 1961 Ford Falcon so special to owner John Zaskoda. Apparently, others approve of the car’s character, too. “I get a lot of comments from people on the street, and those little things are what people like about it, too,” says Zaskoda, a local musician and the production manager for Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth.
The official name for the car is the Ford Falcon Fordor Sedan Six Deluxe, an inexpensive American-made car aimed at young buyers. Base price was $1,912, with simple features such as a heater and radio available as upgrades, but its 30 mpg was a major attraction.“My grandfather had a Falcon; I think it was a ’64. It sat in the driveway, and I don’t remember it ever running. I was about 8 or so and played inside the car, pretending to drive it.”
When Zaskoda happened upon the ’61 Falcon, he immediately flashed back to his youth. “I thought how cool it would be to have a car like my grandfather.”
He found the car by chance. Zaskoda sold a furniture construction business several years ago, but kept a 1989 work van that was in great shape, especially under the hood. He eventually shopped it around. The owner of a local hot rod shop approached him about buying it, initially, but then offered to trade instead. Zaskoda wasn’t particularly interested in a souped-up Honda Accord, but a Ford Falcon sitting in the shop grabbed his interest and stirred up the memories of his grandfather. After a bit of back-and-forth, Zaskoda found himself the owner of what he calls his “not rod.”
Doing much of the work himself, he aimed to keep most of the car original, including the 2.4 liter 144 Falcon Six nestled in the spacious engine compartment. New BBS wheels give him better handling. On the interior, Zaskoda opted to replace the worn bench seats with bucket versions from a VW Passat, and he added a handy console.
One of the more notable additions is the vintage roof rack. Zaskoda, now an active member of an online Falcon group, browses the internet for all things Falcon. After much searching, he found a unicorn: a roof rack that was original and located close to Fort Worth. He added two small Ford badges he pulled off keychains, and he plans to redesign the straps. The rack also gave Zaskoda a chance to add a custom-painted metal fuel can that answered the question asked by many: What year is your car?
With no immediate plans to repaint the Falcon, Zaskoda sought out fellow musician and artist Tanner Leaser to add a little pinstripe flair to the body. “I’ve always wanted to learn how to pinstripe but haven’t had the time. I was so excited when Tanner agreed to do the Falcon.”
While Zaskoda enjoys the admiration from fellow car enthusiasts and total strangers, he’s also OK with knowing that the Falcon isn’t a show car. He drives it every day and accepts its limitations and quirks. “Everything is just right; it’s imperfectly perfect to me.”