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The legend of the San Juan Falcon, a rarity from 50 years ago: only one of the 12 that were built remains

2023-03-25T10:29:34.730Z


Two brothers built them in the 70s on a version of the Ford classic. The Polme survived in memory and in old photos. Until a young man found an abandoned copy in Cuyo.


Dust, rust and oblivion buried for almost half a century the only surviving copy of a rare car born in San Juan, land of Eduardo Copello.

Unlike the two-time

Turismo Carretera

champion , emblem of Torino, this creation that the Zonda wind returned after decades of ghostly was a

Ford

.

But it wasn't just anyone:

it was the San Juan Falcon

.

In 1973 different airs were breathed in Argentina, they were accelerated times in which anything could happen, even that a couple of brothers manufactured a unique vehicle in a limited series.

The Ripolls made the Polme

, a model so singular that after the modifications little remained of the original model.

And so unique, moreover, that now only one of the 12 that came to be produced remains.

A car that forces you to travel to the past.

Between the birth of the San Juan Falcon and this emotional rescue, 50 years have passed.

The bridge has a name.

This is

Ariel Rodríguez, a fan to whom the legend came in his teens and who, as an adult, had the luxury of discovering it

.

He lives in Buenos Aires, but he traveled to the promised lands of San Juan to find this collector's item.

Although the state of the car was lamentable, he promises that he is all set for the Ford to roll again soon.

Falcon Polme: appeared six months after the launch of the Sprint.

On the way there were unsuccessful attempts at seduction, endless trips to find a vintage spare part, secret passageways and a brotherly relationship with the Ripolls, with whom they are united by the continuity of a story that had been cut short.

How was the San Juan Falcon before falling into oblivion

At the beginning of the seventies, Argentina was a country convulsed by political ups and downs.

Although it was still banned, Peronism beat in the fervent youth - a part linked to the brand new Montoneros and other armed groups - and in the old guard, two parallel constellations that were organized around the figure of the leader.

Perón himself fed from Madrid the myth of his return, which only materialized in November 1972, before his definitive return marked by the Ezeiza Massacre in 1973.

The Cordobazo of 1969 was still in the air, that sociopolitical shock that brought together the students and workers of a very strong industrial sector, in which the automotive factories had their own weight.

Aside from these large multinational plants, there was a series of small passionate enterprises that played at modifying standard units, turning them into powerful sports cars or assembling their artisan kits.

From this spirit emerged Héctor Eduardo Ripoll with a personal mandate: to create the San Juan Falcon.

The Falcon Polme in its splendor.

The Oval brand was a central player in the automotive world.

After 19 consecutive titles in the TC, a period in which the brothers Juan and Oscar Gálvez reached mythical stature, first

Chevrolet

and then Torino had dethroned him.

In 1972 everything seemed to be back to normal for Ford fans: Héctor Luis Gradassi inaugurated a string of seven consecutive victories in the category, in which Nasif Estéfano and Juan María Traverso also participated.

The dream was traveling in Falcon

.

That model was the one taken by the electromechanical engineer Ripoll.

However, after the transformation process that he underwent together with his brother Ricardo, a new and unrecognizable creature emerged.

"It was the first Falcon that came more spicy, because six months later the Sprint came out

," recalls Rodríguez, to the rescue of the legend.

“It was a Futura SP with SP mechanics but improved.

The engine had increased its power between 20 and 30 HP and was around 200 horsepower”.

In addition, tweaks to the suspension lowered the height by about 5 centimeters, to go closer to the ground.

Falcon Polme: the rear part, with the reforms.

The mechanical part, however, was the one that saw the least changes.

The craftsmanship of the Ripolls was distinguished on the bodywork.

Reforms were introduced to the original model in the trunk, hood and fenders, with parts made of reinforced plastic.

"In profile it radically changes the appearance of the car, makes the tail appear shorter and the rear volume lower, an effect that is evidently caused by the broken line of the new rear pillar", Corsa magazine defined it in its December issue. from 1973.

That publication was an archaeological piece for the few scholars who preserved the memory of the Polme, the nickname of finance that Héctor attached to his vehicle forever.

Because, for decades, he avoided photographs.

He only lived in memory.

A young man to the rescue of the rarity that spent half a century hidden

Only twelve units of this special Ford Falcon came out of San Juan

, which cost about 15 thousand pesos at the time.

The reforms could be implemented in 0km and also in used ones, with space for the incorporation of tastes of each particular owner.

His image was frozen in photographs, the same ones that reached the young man who came out in his rescue.

“This car is a special part of my life because I stopped being Ariel Rodríguez and became Polme.

And thanks to the Falcon I got into what is now my job and my passion, which is the restoration of classic cars ”, he assures in statements to

Clarín

.

Falcon Polme: Héctor Ripoll shows the Falcon engine in the 70s.

Ari_Polme, as he is known on Instagram, has his classic restoration workshop in Villa Devoto.

A photograph of that Falcon shot him when he was only 15 years old.

He had an advantage: family in San Juan.

After a cousin gave him the information, in 2014 he traveled to the province of Cuyo.

“He took me to see him.

And the photo that I upload to social networks is the first image in which a Polme appears in 40 years ”, he maintains.

What came next was not a bed of roses.

It took a lot of smooth talk to loosen up the owner of the car.

It didn't matter that the San Juan Falcon was abandoned, in poor condition and unusable

.

To each suggestion and proposal he returned a negative response.

Until one day the job was done, the man finally gave in and, with the support of his father, Ariel was able to make the purchase he had longed for since he was a teenager.

The long journey to the origins included the passage through five different owners:

Rodríguez is the sixth

.

The health of the car was also left on the way.

As received, it was ruined: dismantled floors, the doors were almost non-existent, the roof had been eaten away by time and the damage reached the engine.

There was no other choice but to retrace the path.

Falcon Polme: the last of the 12 units that were built.

The new buyer was guided by his visual memory, intact after visiting and revisiting the lost portraits.

He “had vent-jacketed shocks to make them work more cold.

The rear fenders were undercut and flared with a fiber lip.

And the wheels were specially made for the Ripolls by the Flores factory, ”he describes with high fidelity.

When necessary, he went to the photos to revive some detail.

And when that wasn't enough, he turned to the sources.

Events and curiosities of the restoration of the unique Polme

“I found the Ripoll family in 2017. I was attended to by Héctor's wife, the engineer, and she did not trust me very much when I told her that I wanted to ask her questions about the Polme.

Since then we have always been in contact”, says the restaurateur.

The link was reflected in portraits that he uploaded together with the Ripolls on his Instagram account, where he shows the progress of his work.

Falcon Polme: Ariel Rodríguez with Héctor Ripoll.

Simultaneously he undertook the search for spare parts so that the result is perfect.

The trip included visits to corners detained in time, auto parts stores where an old client had left an item behind, or dealerships that had been closed for decades and that inside had the object that Ariel was chasing.

True time capsules.

Another old character in this story came to his aid.

It was a man who, aware of the project, contacted him to tell him that his grandfather had been the second owner of the car and that perhaps he could bring him a unique spare part: the little bone with which the Ripolls crowned the gear lever of their vehicles. , instead of the classic ball that the Ford Falcon brought from the factory.

Falcon Polme: Ariel Rodríguez, in his workshop in Villa Devoto.

(Instagram ari_polme).

Asked about the destination of the 11 missing units, he is hopeless: “

Most of them went to the Exchange Plan

[implemented by the national government in the 90s to renew, through promotions and discounts, the park of used by others brand new] and others were damaged in accidents.

In fact, in a salvage yard in Mendoza I found a set of trunks, which only lacked the hood”

But there is yours,

the only San Juan Falcon that is still standing

.

The work on this “one-of-a-kind series fuori” is almost finished.

He has already gone through the stage of painting the bodywork: green with yellow lines, "the color that the creators liked the most."

The promise is that in October it will be the re-launch of the Ford Falcon at a great meeting which, of course, will take place in San Juan.

And although he has already received offers to sell it, he assures that he will always remain by his side.

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Source: clarin

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