Diamond In The Rough: Following The Flight Of A Falcon

IMG_4978Imagine walking up to the door of a run-down house, knocking on it and having a huge tattooed biker answer. The conversation had to go like this: Biker: “What the hell you want?” Youngster: “Uhm, the Falcon with the for sale sign sitting on the yard, how much?” Biker: “$900 bucks.” Youngster: “I’ve only got $500, will you take that?” Biker: “Only if you get the car off my yard right now!” Youngster: “Does the car run?” Biker: “For $500 bucks you want it to run, too?”

But it did run and Andy drove it home. You see, Andy’s had a love affair for Falcons ever since he was 12 years old while riding home from school with his mother. A beautiful black hardtop pulled up alongside them. He’d never seen anything like it before in his life. Andy thought it was neat and his mother told him it was a Falcon. Andy was smitten.


Basically stock 289 ci engine powers the Falcon, behind that is a 4-speed.

Twelve years later, in 1999, twenty-four year old Andy Shields of Aurora, Colorado, purchased that biker’s 1962 Falcon Futura. It’s been a love affair ever since. After paying his cash, he called his brother, Dan, and asked him to help get the car home. Andy bought the car even after Dan told him it was waste of both good cash and time. Dan figured Andy was the dumbest guy in the world the whole way home. Andy watched him shake his head in the Falcon’s rear view mirror as he was following. But Andy could see the diamond in the rough and started a five year journey.

Left: The 'diamond'...nearly as Andy found it. Right: Needless to say, it was a bit rusty!

When Andy was in high school he belonged to the Falcon Club, so his first order of business after he picked up the car was to join the club again. At his first meeting, he mentioned he’d bought a ‘62 Futura and wanted to put a V8 in it. Club members didn’t know anything about doing that, but suggested he talk with Ron Brown as he was a guru at putting V8’s in early Falcons.

After an introduction to Ron by a friend, Andy told him what he wanted to do and he agreed to help. The first thing Ron suggested was “find a V8.” Andy found one with an automatic transmission for only $50. Had to be junk for that price, but at least it would at least make a good core. Not wanting an automatic in the Futura, he worked out a deal with Ron for one of his extra 4-speeds.

The strangest part of working with Ron is Andy remembered Ron’s slick black Falcon some twelve years earlier and sitting in Ron’s garage was the 1963 Falcon Sprint that Ron ordered new from the factory and still owns to this day. Ron was just the first of many people that helped Andy with his car over the years.

Left: The original six cylinder-that had to change. Right: The Falcon undergoing the transformation.

It took Andy a few weeks to swap out the suspension for a Falcon’s later V8 stuff and tow the engine-less coupe to Ron’s shop.

The 289 ci engine was rebuilt basically stock so after the engine/transmission were in, Andy tackled the body work himself, then sprayed it flat black and drove it. Toward Spring of 2002, he decided the car needed flames. He and his buddy Scott taped off the flames and shot some rattle-can Krylon. The flat black look lasted for 10 years and eventually Andy tired of it. In 2012, he decided it needed a bit of freshening.

Left: Flat Black with Krylon red flames lasted ten years. Right: The final coats of primer.

That winter he completely stripped the car to bare metal (the old fashioned way – with a sander), and decided to change the look of the stock Falcon. The first thing was to radius the rear wheel wells. With the help of another friend, John Curtis, the wheel wells were modified. Around front the hood scoop was modified by opening it a bit and then another pal, Joe Olvera showed him how to pull dents with a stud gun and slide hammer.

After some final work, Andy thought the car was ready for paint. Two guys from different shops came by his house and said “You’re not even close,” and quoted him a price he couldn’t afford. Dejected, he thought the love affair had ended, but decided to spend some money on rewiring the whole car. With the help of another pal, Pat Friend, they rewired the whole car and added electric wipers.


Final paint. The red and white base coat/clear coat exterior is striking.

Just when he had almost given up hope, Rob Donahue of Donahue Restoration in Aurora, Colorado, came by his home to take a look. Seeing the car in bare metal, he quoted a price similar to the others. Andy thanked him, told him the price was out of reach and he didn’t want to waste more of his time.

Rob asked if the car used to be flat black with flames and asked if he had any photos. While Andy was retrieving the photo album, Rob and his wife had talked and decided they were going to help. A deal was struck and the car was taken to Rob’s shop and disassembled even more. Over the course of 18 months, with many ‘working’ visits to Rob’s shop, he (and Andy) turned it into the car seen here. The combination red and white are both unusual and striking.

After paint, it was time to do the interior. Andy repainted the dash and added 1963 Futura dash trim since the 1962 only came with a plaque on the glove box door. He also added the Futura center console, door panels and armrests. The seats were sewn up by Helga’s Interiors and had the Falcon logo embroidered in the middle of the back seat. Juan Arcee put the new headliner and windlace in and Ron at L&R upholstery stretched the carpet.


Left: The interior got some insulation. Right: The trunk of the Falcon looks near factory.

Andy’s love affair took a total of five years to do the Falcon the first time and at least three years the second time around. After owning the Falcon for nearly 20 years, it is part of the family at this point and Andy’s brother, Dan, still thinks it was a waste of time and money.

About the author

Roger Jetter

Roger’s interests in cars started at 14 with a ’40 Ford pick-up until he bought his first ’57 Chevy at age 16. That car is featured in the first two books he’s written about the 1960’s and growing up in the Midwest. He’s authored several more books as well and has built several cars over the years that have received major coverage in magazines and won plenty of awards. His current build is a 1948 Cadillac Sedanet, although his current 'driver' is a '55 Cadillac Coupe DeVille.
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