Ford Motor Co., acknowledging demand for smaller, less-expensive cars, introduces the compact Ford Falcon on Sept. 2, 1959. The Falcon, which also helped spawn the Ford Mustang pony car, was a mainstay of the company's lineup until it was discontinued in 1970.
The Falcon went on sale on Oct. 8, 1959, as a 1960 model and was an instant success. Dealers snagged all of the 97,000 vehicles built in the first production run by the next day.
The Falcon, whose slogan was, "The small car with the big car feel," was one of many small cars launched by U.S. automakers after decades of giant sedans and coupes adorned with enormous fins and oceans of chrome.
The rise of imports -- namely the Volkswagen Beetle and Renault Dauphine -- as well as Nash Motors' Rambler, prompted Detroit's big automakers to go small.
In March 1957, Ford Motor gave the green light to study what type of small car U.S. buyers wanted: front or rear engine; four or six cylinders; four, five or six passengers. In November 1957, Ford Chairman Ernest Breech told the company's senior management the results of the survey: The public didn't want anything exotic.