This will be a middling length post, but it's got a lot of pictures in it, so dig in. J. Drew Silvers pointed out in Oppo earlier that there seems to be a revival in interest underway, so you may see more and more of these. I saw two in one day earlier in the week. I'm going to cover Oz Falcons as well, but not in as much detail, because I'm less versed in them, it's hard to pick a good point to stop, and the US audience is bigger. The Oz models are an interesting parallel evolution study, though.
To begin, the '60:
The inaugural model year (US) is perhaps the easiest to ID immediately from the front, and this is because it is the only model year to feature a recessed *and* concave grill. It and the '61 to be posted next also have rounder, softer lines on the front hood and fenders. The Aussie model is virtually identical, because their design team's localizations had yet to take flight, so to speak. It's a little harder to tell the difference between the '60 and the '61 from behind - here's the '60:
...and here's the '61 (Photo: BringATrailer/eBay):
As you can see, they used the same bumper and three-sector "wide" taillight surround. Fortunately, this '61 has two tells that aren't always present, an optional chrome line on the side relief edge, and big "F A L C O N" letters. Still, it remains easier to ID a '61 based on grill.
Much better. Same bumper, same soft curves and roll-over edged hood, but this grill has an outward thrust line through the middle.
During this time, the Aussie XK kept the '60 style concave grill, but added the chrome stripe (on deluxe models) and "F O R D" hood letters to the '61 on, and a chrome hood decoration to some '62s.
Pictured, a '62 Aussie:
No lie, it is a bit harder to ID an XK by year. That would change by the XL, but first let's check back in with the US model '62.
Wow, what happened here? Well, a lot happened, but to start with, US adoption of amber lights coincided with a front end refresh. Sharp edged front fenders and hood, with lights and grill no longer recessed. Lights moved to kind of a hasty slab front bumper, and this year also adopts a fake chrome hood scoop trim. The '62 was now available with a 170ci six instead of a 144ci, so it definitely needed more fake air than the fake cowl induction bulge could provide. Around back, the lights changed, and that's about it. Some '62s have weird little gunsight decorations on the top of the fenders - typically only deluxe models. These are pointless, but kind of neat.
As to the rear light change, it's kind of an oven-burner or afterburner design, contrasting with the previous design's heavy ring. This would be a good time to point out that a large influence on the Falcon's design was first-gen jet fighters such as the Sabre, so the jet-style taillights and intake-like '60 grill are best viewed in that light, as is the shape of the side relief (like a fuselage with forward-pitched intake).
We in the US didn't see that much of a change in '63. The grill and headlight surrounds changed, and the taillights changed, but the new style of hood and fender from the '62 carried over:
(Rear photo from West Coast Falcons)
This rear photo is an excellent topic study for two points on '63s, though. The giant chrome arrow on the side typically indicates a Futura, which is very often (V8 badge present) a Sprint, which was the new V8 option. The 260 being heavier than a 144 or 170, this necessitated beefier front suspension, and was a necessary step to the V8 Mustang becoming a reality. This Sprint also has the most common rear light for a '63, but deluxe models had a version with a center backup light.
The Aussies were ready for a change beyond lights and decoration, though, and '63 saw the introduction of a new model line to replace the XK, the XL:
Actually, apart from a roofline redesign and a more drastic tweak of the fenders and hood to allow for the grill redesign, it wasn't really a quantum leap. Instead of increasing the angularity of the design as US designers did, the bumper and fenders from the '60-'61 were trimmed up and contoured for a better look in the *round* direction. You may also note the hood and fenders are chrome-edged now. The Futura arrow on this one does not carry the possibility of a V8, as the XL topped out with the Pursuit 170. Rear lights are just like the '63 US deluxe models.
It's now time for the first truly major sheet metal revision on the US side, the '64:
(2 photos Curbside Classic)
A very similar bumper and grill to the '62 were back, along with a move away from "fighter jet" more toward "stylized rocket trail" in the side relief, as is totally reasonable given the content of public discussion about then. The rear is harmonized to that shape, but the lights are similar to the '63.
The '65 is the same rhyme in different time, with a carry-over of almost everything, but a light revision to the grill and rear lights. The split in the grill was part of a shift in the corporate "face" for Ford, one which was fairly short-lived.
(parts car for sale at TerryandWallaceParts):
The writing having been on the wall for the '65 with the massive sales of the Mustang and dwindling segment, the '65 is in some respects what I'd call the last "true" Falcon in the US, as it was more or less a medical-experimented dead man walking for the next 5 years. The next Falcon would be larger, an amalgamation of the contemporary Fairlane platform (which had, itself been based on a similar platform to the Falcon) and new parts.
Meanwhile, the Aussie XM took a turn for the brutish, still carrying some lines from the original, but by this time drastically different than the US '64 and '65.
With changes in engineering, and with the offering of a 200ci six instead of a V8, the Aussie model had very much begun to go its own way, and the following XP...
...looked nothing at all like the XK or its US Fairlane contemporary. With changes underneath to the structure, it wasn't only dissimilar, but more and more unrelated - but these changes also made it the first uniquely Oz Falcon, and the first of its line unbroken into modern times.
(All uncited photos Wikipedia/Wikimedia)