Ford Motor Company in Australia

Australia has had a love affair with Ford Motor Cars almost from the time Henry Ford built the first Ford motor vehicle. Let me see if I can explain!

It goes right back to 1904. You may remember that in 1903 Henry Ford started the Ford Motor Company and began building the Model A Ford.
One of these Model A Fords was imported to Australia and as they say the rest is history.

Because of licensing arrangements, for the next 20 years all Ford vehicles were imported from agents in Canada but Ford Motor cars had become so popular in Australia that it was decided by Ford Motor Co. in America to start a production line in Australia.

And so the legend for Ford Motor cars in Australia began....

An early Model A Ford similar to one imported to Australia in 1904.
An early Model A Ford similar to one imported to Australia in 1904.
Ford Motor Company's famous Ford Model T one of the first cars Ford assembled in Australia
Ford Motor Company's famous Ford Model T one of the first cars Ford assembled in Australia

Ford start assembly in regional Geelong

In 1925 the local company Ford Motor Company of Australia was formed and the first Ford factory was built in Geelong.

Geelong is a regional City in Victoria about 60 Km west of Melbourne.

The Model T Ford was the first vehicle that went into production and Ford used what is known as CKD's  supplied from Ford Canada.

CKD (Complete Knock Down) is  a term commonly used and may consist of a complete kit of parts needed to assemble a product. Because the parts have possibly never been assembled as one unit there is usually some fitting problems on the assembly line!

As Henry Ford was reported to have said when asked if you could have a choice of colors, he said: "You could have it in any color you like as long as it's black".

1934 Ford Coupe Utility, as displayed at the National Motor Museum at Birdwood in South Australia
1934 Ford Coupe Utility, as displayed at the National Motor Museum at Birdwood in South Australia
Ford Falcon XR8 Ute
Ford Falcon XR8 Ute

Birth of the Ute

Around 1934 with Australia recovering from the Great Depression, money was very tight. The "banks" were reluctant to lend money to farmers (ring a bell) for luxuries, which included cars. Ford seeing this as an advantage came up with an idea that changed the face of motoring in Australia. A Ford Engineer by the name of Lewis Bandt invented what in Australia has become known as the 'Ute'. This enabled the farmer of the day to have a 'work horse' vehicle as well as a car that could be used to carry the wife around in comfort (relatively speaking).

You can see from the images that the Ute has come a long way since 1934. The current XR8 Ute comes with the following specs:Boss 260 5.4L DOHC 4V V8 engine, 6-speed manual transmission,  Limited Slip Differential, Dual Outlet Exhaust with Chrome Tip, Bonnet bulge

Not bad to have as a work horse hmm?

Ford Zephyr forerunner to the Falcon range of vehicles.
Ford Zephyr forerunner to the Falcon range of vehicles.

Ford Motor Company Australia Post War.

In the days after World War Two Ford Australia concentrated on getting their product via the UK turning out vehicles such as the Anglia and Ford Prefect and the larger Zephyr and then went on to build the Escort and Cortina range of cars. However although all of these cars were reasonable for their time problems loomed for Ford.

*GMH had released their family sized Holden and although, in my opinion, they were not as good as the Zephyrs they were selling very well.

* GMH now known as Holden in Australia started from a small company started in 1856 which by Australian standards grew into a reasonably sized Motor Body builder and incidentally assembled some early Ford Bodies. Holden later became a subsidiary of General Motors

So in 1960 Ford Motor Company in Australia released a locally designed and built car which to this day is known as the Ford 'Falcon'. It is the longest running badge on Cars in Australian Automotive History (more about that in a later Hub)

Now Published:

Ford Falcon 2008 Model FG Model XR8
Ford Falcon 2008 Model FG Model XR8

Ford Motor Company's New Headquarters in Australia

To accommodate the manufacture of the Falcon and to allow for expansion, Ford Australia, in 1961 built what was to become their Head Office and a Huge assembly plant in Broadmeadows which is a Northern Suburb of Melbourne Victoria.
I have many memories from this plant as the company that I worked for at the time designed and built the first ever Dynamic Wheel Aligner and it was my responsibility to install this machine and to sort out the bugs.(There were a few! ). For a time there I thought that the Ford Plant was my home.

I was also looking after Fords bank of Dynamic Wheel Balancers. At the time no other manufacturing company had installed these types of machines. Ford was able to use this as a great selling feature that Ford manufactured vehicles were leaving the factory with wheels balanced and aligned. These days the public will not accept any less when buying a new car.

Ford Testing Ground

I am also one of the privileged few who have had the honor of visiting Ford Motor Company's testing grounds located in Lara on the foot hills of the You Yangs Mountain Range West of Melbourne.

With about 40 kilometres of various surfaced roads including an estimated 5km of High Speed track and special surfaces like Cobblestones, corrugations (apparently no other country has corrugations like Australia), Various levels of gradients both sealed and unsealed.

The site also includes a Crash Test area, High Speed Wind Tunnel , Emission testing Lab. and a few other Highly Sensitive and Secret areas (Shh)

The Legend Continues...

The Blue badge with "Ford" written proudly across the front has grown in stature since the early days over 100 years ago and I believe with its innovation, forward looking management and healthy competition Ford Motor Company Australia will continue to grow far into the future!

More by this Author


Comments 29 comments

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

It is interesting to know what cars are popular in other countries.It used to be in small towns in america certain brands were popular.Some favored Ford and some Chevrolet. that is probably changed now.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Yes mate that is an interesting observation and I don't believe it would have changed that much. Once a Brand is in your blood it stays there and is handed down from Father to Son LOL

We do have the different Brand competition here in Australia. We don't have the Chevy home brand here! The equivalent brand is Holden (General Motors Holden)and their direct opponent to the Falcon is a 'Commodore'. Every year there is an endurance race called the Bathurst 1000 (620miles) where the muscle cars of Ford and Holden battle it out. It is one of the best races in the world.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia

Fantastic hub on the Ford Motor Company in Australia agvulpes.

I never miss Bathurst, the greatest car destroying road race in the world. The speed down the mountain is amazing considering the size of these big V8's and these guys are crazy!

Every year Holden and Ford fight for the much prized Bathurst win and the mountain will claim some of them.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks earnestshub. I agree with you about the Bathurst 1000 it always turns out to be one helluva Race.

Both Ford Motor Company and General Motors Holden pour millions into this race. I wonder just how well it boosts the winning manufacturers sales figures?


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

I learned. Lots of good stuff. I want to visit there. Thanks for sharing.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Australia is such a big country there is always room for one more lol

Thanks for visiting and I'm glad you enjoyed my snapshop on Ford Motor Company in Australia.:-)


sabrebIade profile image

sabrebIade 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

I'm looking forward to the Falcon Hub.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

I'm working on it for my next Hub. Ford running the Falcons were really let down in today's big race at Bathurst. I guess there is always next year :-)


akulkarni1234 profile image

akulkarni1234 6 years ago

i dont understand much of cars ...(sad) but this sounds good


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

akulkarni, If it sounds good to you the I guess it has done it's job. It was more a history lesson on what the Ford Motor Company has accomplished in Australia over the last 100 years.

I'm happy that you enjoyed it, not so happy that you don't understand much about cars.

Thank you for your kind comment :-)


Ana Isabel 6 years ago

WHAT MODEL OF FORD USES RUSH, THE SHOW OF CHANNEL TEN??


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

ana isabel, thanks for the great question!

After some research I believe the vehicle is a variation on the SUV called 'Ford Territory', which is based on the Ford Falcon.

There is a picture below, let me know if it is the one ?


tkaptur profile image

tkaptur 6 years ago from South Haven, Michigan

Great info! My father, Grand Father and Great Grandfather all worked the auto industry in Detroit so I hear all sorts of similar stories of what companies were doing back then.

Loved it, thanks!


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

I would have loved to have been in one of the conversations between these Guys I bet you heard some very interesting stories from the floor.

I would have loved to have been around at the time the motor car was first being developed, especially Henry Ford with his Ford, what an exciting era it must have been !

tkaptur thanks for sharing your story with us :-)


Laura 6 years ago

All Ford cars went off well in Australia. Australians have more craze in using Ford cars and the company feels much pleased with that.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Laura thank you for your comment. Yes Ford seems to riding on a crest of a wave especially with the 50 anniversary of the Ford Falcon in 2010. The Anniversary Ford Falcon is a very classy car indeed!


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

It is a great place you should visit!


Chauffeured Car Gold Coast 5 years ago

Great write up and looks like a great ride, there are very beautiful cars. Vintage cars are also here. I have seen here great collection of beautiful cars. Thanks for sharing with me.


bjstroup profile image

bjstroup 5 years ago from Brooklyn, MS

Love the history of the Ford in Australia. I personally feel us "Yanks" have missed the boat on the "Ute" with the demise of the Ranchero and Elcamino in the early 80's. It's great to hear from other Ford Power drivers on the other side of the world. Me and my father have driven Ford's for a very long time, my first being a 1950 F-3 long bed that's being rebuilt in the near future, and updated of course. Happy motoring. :)


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

Model names like Ranchero and Elcamino are only names that I have heard in Movies lol

From memory they were a larger vehicle than our 'Ute' which is really only the same size as the equivelant sedan! I am rather envious of you having a 1950 model of anything. I wish you luck with your rebuild I am sure it will be a labor of love.

Thank you for sharing your Ford Motor experiences with us. Ford Forever :-)


Gary Yeomans Ford 5 years ago

Nice to see the pics of the cars from the past. Thanks for this post.


Gary Yeomans Ford 5 years ago

Great Article Love the old pics..


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

GYFord... Thanks heaps for dropping by and checking our the Ford Motor Company in Australia


Rohan coates 5 years ago

Bring back the ford falcon wagon bring back falcon wagon bring back falcon wagon also the panel van because their great Aussie car also most popular car the wagon is good for family car & taxi & police car panel van is good for police van trade-man they should bring them out again bring them out bring back falcon wagon, bring back falcon wagon, bring back panel van, bring back panel van, also the fair lane is good for business taxi bring it back


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

Well Rohan I don't think that the ford falcon is quite dead yet! You sure are right the Ford Falcon wagon is great for the taxi business here in Melbourne. Although the Police here are now using the Holden.

Thanks for you support for the Ford brand :-)


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

Well I think this settles it - should the Shaw's of Kaufman, Texas ever expatriate, then the dad will be most happy in Australia! :=D


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

Well I'm sure that if the Shaw' of Kaufman, Texas were to relocate to Australia and drove a Ford vehicle that they would be warmly welcomed. Thanks Wesman for your kind comment :-)


Paolocruz profile image

Paolocruz 3 years ago from Philippines

Thanks for the information. Nice presentation of Ford's history btw.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 3 years ago from Australia Author

G'day Paolo and thanks for the drop-in :) I have always had a soft spot for Ford. However here in Australia times are tough in the motor industry and look like they will not get better any time soon. Ford Motor Company and GMH (read General Motors) keep reducing their staff by the hundreds at regular intervals.

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    Ford Territory in real time being used in MICA situation!
    Ford Territory in real time being used in MICA situation!
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