By on October 7, 2016

Falcon (Five Starr Photos/Flickr)

It’s a sad day in Australia as Ford Motor Company closes the door on 91 years of domestic vehicle production.

Some 600 Ford employees are now out of work after the automaker shut down factories in Melbourne and Geelong. This marks not just the end of Australian Ford production, but the death of a long-running nameplate.

The last vehicle to roll off the country’s assembly lines was a six-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive Ford Falcon XR6. That nameplate, born in the U.S. in 1960 (thanks to Henry Ford II’s “whiz kids”), stayed alive in Australia after bowing out of the U.S. market in 1970. Ford produced a total of 3.5 million Falcons, including the 1973 XB GT coupe famously driven by Mel Gibson in The Road Warrior.

The last production vehicle will live out its days in the Ford Australia museum.

While the situation is grim, the closures were a long time coming. In July, Ford of Australia ended production of the iconic Falcon Ute, a body style the country’s citizens invented (by demanding it) in 1934. That leaves Toyota and GM subsidiary Holden as the only remaining vehicle manufacturers, and both have similarly pledged to leave the country.

The common refrain: production costs are too high, and the country is too far away from high-volume markets.

Not surprisingly, Australia’s automotive industry remains a hot-button political issue within its own borders. Thousands of jobs could be lost and the country’s many suppliers could fold when the remaining automakers leave — 40,000, according to government estimates.

Though it no longer makes cars, the Blue Oval’s presence will continue to sell and service imported vehicles. Development and design work on the company’s global vehicles continues in Australia, as well.

[Sources: Associated PressSydney Morning Herald] [Image: Five Starr Photo/Flickr]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

53 Comments on “Falcon Name Bites the Dust as Ford Pulls out Down Under...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Too expensive in production.
    Too far away from major markets.
    Drive on the wrong side of the road.
    Too many giant spiders.
    They send us Foster’s.

    Just some of the many problems of Australia!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      They are also about fifteen hours away, I say they need to hop off the continent and push it closer.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      Sounds like Trump needs to go Make Australia Great Again.

      One of my programs uses isolators made by a family-owned company in Australia. I wonder if they’ll be impacted harshly by the death of the national auto industry.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        These kangaroos – have you seen this? They’re very fat and disgusting. They hop around and have babies. My wife isn’t a kangaroo.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @NoID
        Many have changed into other types of manufacturing

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @NoID
        More on the Falcon history.
        http://www.carsales.com.au/editorial/news/2016/large-passenger/ford/falcon/ford-falcon-from-catastrophe-to-icon-104143
        Early US Falcons were terrible. Whole Falcon saga could have ended a lot quicker, if we kept building them

        “Ford Falcon: From Catastrophe to icon

        Where to start now that Ford’s Falcon has come to the end of the road? The beginning is logical isn’t it?

        That was October 1960, when the first US-designed, locally-built Falcons started rolling from a newly-built factory at Broadmeadows in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

        This was the XK Falcon and it wasn’t much good. There had not been enough toughening of the American-designed car to cope with Aussie conditions; the hammering delivered by our rough roads caused its front-end to collapse.

        Sales slumped with it and Ford’s image was tarnished.

        “It was a heap of shit, frankly,” says now-retired Ford Australia engineer Allan Wembridge.

        “Here we took their little shopping car their wives used to use. We were told not to complain and we started to build it and sell it as our front-line car.”

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @CoreyDL
      Not allowed export markets by the parent company( many reasons for that, nothing to do with the quality of the vehicle)
      changing tastes of the consumers
      FTA’s bringing in very cheap vehicles from Thailand( a concern currently in the US, FTA’s that is

      Now a complete about face and Ford is investing money into the design and testing facilities at Ford Australia

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Foster’s is now owned by SAB Miller, which is based in London, and the American product is brewed in the US.

      On the other hand, Kraft owns Vegemite.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Corey,
      I think you have it wrong. We are in the best position.

      South and South East Asia is the future.

      You guys, the EU more so than the US will soon realise this.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      During WW1, stocks of Bovril and Marmite – imported from England – sank dangerously low due to U- boat action.

      In New Zealand, the Seventh Day Adventists began manufacturing same under licence.

      Fred Walker, of the Walker Cheese factory, said “b$gger that, I’ll just copy it” and Vegemite and Bonox were born.

      Sales struggled, and the name was briefly changed for marketing purposes (“Parwill – Ma mite but Pa Will !”), but the brand recovered when the Australian government imposed crushing import levies on foreign foodstuffs in the 1930s.

  • avatar
    NoID

    *Insert Star Wars-themed Harrison Ford sex joke here*

    or

    That’s what she said!

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    4dr sedan with a cool hood scoop and stripes! Gotta love it.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    A sad thing indeed .

    Were they not selling or was Ford not making any profit ? .

    Or simply wanted more profit than they were making ? .

    Nice to see the last one was an InLine 6 Banger =8-) .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @-Nate
      More profit, than they could make in Australia
      Unique vehicles presented a problem and a challenge for export.
      Ford in the early 1970’s had problems with quality

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      It’s the same thing as in the US and Canada: domestic production costs more due to labor costs and free trade agreements allow them to import vehicles built offshore for far less and improve margins.

      • 0 avatar
        thattruthguy

        The main problem is that, unlike other countries with a high standard of living and wages to go with it, Australia isn’t large enough to support its own modern auto manufacturing plants, and doesn’t have special access to other similar markets. A modern efficient auto manufacturing plant produces 200K vehicles per year; Australia only buys a skosh over a million vehicles per year total.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @thattruthguy
          That is why it need an export market for the Falcons and Holdens. Unfortunately , Detroit was very lukewarm to the idea. If they had actively helped the Aussie subsidiaries to export, then the outcome could have been very different.
          Now Ford is having pangs of guilt and putting a lot of money into local design and testing of Global Ford products

          • 0 avatar
            thattruthguy

            It isn’t just access to markets. There’s a relatively small worldwide market for Aussie style inexpensive RWD cars, especially where Ford and GM sell cars. Aussie cars haven’t been accepted in Europe, and they’ve had very bad luck in the States (notably the G8 and GTO). AUD currency fluctuations can be devastating (as they were for GM when selling Aussie Pontiacs), and there isnt much that can be done about them.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @thattruthguy
            A case of not designed or built here syndrome in the US and they are too large for European roads. US Pickups suffer the same alienation, but they have a large internal market.
            New Zealand was our strongest market, sharing similar cultures and tastes in vehicles., but they are a fairly tiny market.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I like Australian cars because they built stuff like this:

    australianmusclecarsales.com.au/muscle/111698-hsv-sv3800-commodore.html

    That’s a factory HSV-tuned RWD sedan with the LN3 version of the 3800. Style it to look more like an Electra T-type and less like a Subaru and it’s nearly my perfect car.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    It is sad to see Ford move on. The big but is each Falcon in the end (this year) were subsidised to the tune of USD $5 500.

    Ford will keep its design and engineering centre up and running. Ford only has 3 such centres globally. At least Australia continues to keep the good paying degreed jobs whilst off shoring unskilled and semi skillef jobs.

  • avatar
    Marcus36

    Rented a Ford Falcon in Australia back in 2010 it was a great car, it drove better and felt more solid than the NA market Fusion and Taurus form the same time period.

  • avatar
    skor

    She’s the last of the V8s! Oh, I see it’s an I6. Funny thing, the US never developed a proper I6. In the US of Murica, the I6 was for secretaries or cheap bastards. Ford Oz took Ford NA’s 144/170/200/250 family of I6 engines, with the integral intake manifold that had the internal dimensions of a worm hole, and developed a proper cylinder head for it, and it was a damn fine engine. BTW, the V8 interceptor that Mel drove in the Mad Max movies was an Oz made Falcon.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      The ironic thing is there hasnt been an Australian V8 for a long long time.

      GM have been on the LSX types since the late 90’s.

      Ford have been on the Cobra and that kind of V8 since the early 2000s… in fact they are a close relative to the 5.4 V8 in the Ford GT.

      The inline six is actually a decent motor and 100% locally designed and made. In Turbo form its very good but the Falcon loses where people care about… the interior and ‘touch points’ are very behind the times. The country does not want 4,000lb RWD cars that had middling mpg… they want medium sized FWD Japanese and Korean CUVs…

      In the future I think the Falcon six will be the enthusiasts choice. The less said about the high feature GM V6 the better. What a dunger of a motor.

      btw. in the old days there were two Ford V8s, the legendary Cleveland and Windsor but these are famous in the US too.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      @skor, the US auto industry’s history of inline six production goes back much farther than you recall. Most US cars built in the decade following WW2 had inline sixes as standard, along with the standard (manual) transmission: three on the tree. As for “proper” inline sixes, google Hudson Hornet. Then check Allpar for the history of the slant six development.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        One the earliest engines Ford made was a flat-head I6. My point is that the I6 was never developed into a proper performance engine in North America the way it was in Europe and Asia. Americans just didn’t see the I6 as anything other than an ‘economy’ engine. In the 60s Pontiac produced a nice, little overhead cam I6 for the Firebird…..no one bought it.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “My point is that the I6 was never developed into a proper performance engine in North America the way it was in Europe and Asia.”

          why is that “proper?” when fuel prices have been as low as they’ve been in the US for, well, just about forever, why would we waste time trying to build hi-po I6s when you can just use a V8? Especially when V8s aren’t as long and can fit in places an I6 can’t.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      “Funny thing, the US never developed a proper I6.”

      The slant-6 was a proper I6. The Chrysler “Hemi-6” or Oz fame was a US Mopar design for a truck engine that they determined was no substitute for an LA V8. In 1961, the Hyper-Pack 225’s 196 hp was plenty for any other market in the world. It wasn’t developed further as a performance engine because 273-327 ci V8s from each of the Big-3 were light, powerful, and cheap to produce.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I don’t think it was a matter of the I-6 not being competent enough but the emergence of less expensive and better V-8s by Chrysler, GM, and Ford which led the market. Hudson itself had a very competent and competitive I-6 as did Nash. The introduction of the Chevrolet small block V-8 in the 1955 Chevrolets gave customers a choice of more performance for not much more dollars. The link below references the Hudson Hornet’s NASCAR history:
    http://www.legendsofnascar.com/hudson.htm

    Chevy small block:
    http://www.enginelabs.com/engine-tech/cylinder-heads/history-of-the-small-block-chevrolet-ohv-cylinder-head/

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Color me green with envy. Ford can’t end its presence in the US market soon enough. Maybe if their customers had no choice but to buy better cars, they’d live better lives.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I doubt very much that Ford will not make vehicles in the US. Ford is going more to global platforms except the F series trucks and even those could eventually become global. I do see more of the manufacturers using cheaper labor markets for their subcompact and compact vehicles.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Hummer: Jeez, I can’t imagine paying that much for 1 vehicle, $1,900 is what one could expect to pay for about 3-4...
  • geozinger: Fnck. I’ve lost lots of cars to the tinworm. I had a 97 Cavalier that I ran up to 265000 miles. The...
  • jh26036: Who is paying $55k for a CTR? Plenty are going before the $35k sticker.
  • JimZ: Since that’s not going to happen, why should I waste any time on your nonsensical what-if?
  • JimZ: Funny, Jim Hackett said basically the same thing yesterday and people were flinging crap left and right.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States