Falcon Name Bites the Dust as Ford Pulls Out Down Under

falcon name bites the dust as ford pulls out down under

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 Press; Sydney Morning Herald] [Image: Five Starr Photo/ Flickr]

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  • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Oct 09, 2016

    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.

    • Old Man Pants Old Man Pants on Oct 09, 2016

      Thanks for rescuing an otherwise sane and sober TTAC day. We were a couple quarts low on whack.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Oct 09, 2016

    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.

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?