The Australian Ford Motor Company - Ford Falcon models are 50 years strong in Australia
The month of June 2010 marked a special time for Ford in Australia.
The Ford Falcon celebrated its 50 years as a marque in this country.
It is not my intention here to give you a blow by blow description of every model of Falcon that Ford Motor Co. made here in Australia. Rather an overview of what I think were some of the important steps that they took to get where they are in the Australian Automotive industry today!
Way back in the 1950s Ford Motor Company was very concerned with the emerging local motor car manufacturer called General Motors Holden (GMH) which was a joint venture between the Giant General Motors (GM) from America and the local small body building company Holden Body Works.
Intoducing the Falcon
The very first Falcon sold in Australia in September of 1960 was the XK model. It was a four door sedan and I believe was only available in 2 models the Falcon and the Falcon Deluxe.
The Falcon was virtually a carbon copy of the American Falcon but was a right hand drive to suit the Australian roads.
I had been driving Holdens up till then and on driving a Falcon was an immediate convert due to the light steering and much more comfortable ride. To this day in my opinion Falcons have always had a better ride and steering than the GMH built Holden Commodores.
The differential ratios also were altered to better suit the Australian conditions and allowed the motor to run at a more relaxed speed than its American sister.
Ford used the slogan 'Australian-with a world of difference' and the Falcon Sedan being such a huge success in the sales soon introduced a Station Wagon body shorter than the American counterpart to suit the perceived rougher Australian conditions
XR Series Falcon (Mustang Bred)
This is the model that really put Falcon in front of everyone in Australia. It was introduced in 1966 and was termed as "The Mustang Bred" Falcon and was the first time that a V8 engine, the 200hp (150kW),289 cubic inch Windsor, had been offered by Ford in the normal 'family' car.
Of course the red blooded Aussie blokes fell in love with these cars. This prompted Ford Australia to release a sporty version called the Falcon GT and this was a very potent piece of machinery as it sported a 225 bhp (168 kW) version of the Windsor Engine, the famous phrase of 'muscle car' was now in the Aussie vernacular.
XW Ford Falcon
The XW was introduced in 1969 and although looking similar to the last model had been beefed up with a tougher c-pillar and this gave it the appearance of looking bigger.
Also a fully integrated A/C was offered for the first time. A first I believe for any Australian made car.
Among many additions especially for the 'petrol heads' was a bigger Windsor Engine, putting out 219 horsepower (9217kW).
It was about this time that Ford created what has now become a legend in the Australian Motor car industry.
Ford released on the unwitting public the Falcon GT-HO specs.
(HO stood for Handling Options). The vehicle itself looked from the outside much like any other Falcon model. However this spec had been designed for racing (my guess specifically for the Bathurst mountain race which has now become the Bathurst 1000) There was a saying going around then 'Win on Sunday, sell on Monday' how accurate that saying proved to be!
The car had a Phase 1 351ci Windsor V8 which was soon upgraded in the Phase II GT-HO with a 351ci Cleveland which put out a head snapping 300 hp!
Other additions included special body panels and paint jobs, black panels were painted on the bonnet to stop reflection and aid in driving! Special brake and wheel upgrades were added to take the extra power!
XA Ford Falcon
Ford Australia introduce the Ford Falcon XA in 1972 and it was a brand new looking car from top to toe.
Because the Falcon in America had been dumped the Australian Engineers were able to come up with their own design. This XA model still bore a resemblance to the Mustang but the lines were more sleeker I believe due to the increase in popularity of the European cars starting to grow in appeal on the Aussie market.
One thing to note is that the Falcon was the first Aussie manufactured car to come with 'front disc brakes' across its range.
During 1973 the XB was released and sold with the slogan of being 'The Great Australian Road Car' featured an upgraded body. The XB GT was the first car to be fitted with 4 wheel disc brakes (not before time I might add).
For those of us with some wisdom of age on their side. The car that Mal Gibson drove in the movies 'Mad Max' and 'Mad Max II' was a XB Falcon (slightly modified)
The XC model was the next in the series and Ford came out with a 'limited edition' 2 door model called the Cobra and sported a massive 5.8 litre engine and virtually everything on these babies was numbered for authenticity.
The XC Ford Falcons reputation was no doubt enhanced after the two Falcons driven by Alan Moffatt and Colin Bond and the cars bearing the Numbers 1 and 2 finished in that order first and second and side by side. Ford could not have paid enough money to get the sort of advertising that this victory got for their Falcon.
XD Ford Falcon
In 1979 Ford unveiled the XD Falcon. Due to popular demand the XD was lighter and slightly smaller than the previous model!
With the European influences starting to come in to Ford now that America had stopped producing their own Falcon some pundits likening the Falcon to the Ford Granada but the Aussie Falcon was bigger and stronger to cope with our harsher conditions.
The influences of Ghia were now being shown with the Fairmont Ghia replacing previous upmarket models (GXL) Much fancier name ?
This was around the time of the 'first' fuel crisis where fuel prices not only rocketed but we were subjected to 'rationing' of petrol. Prompting the commencement of my love affair with 'dual fuel' cars (Petrol + LPG) This pretty much put an end (for the time) of the famous 'muscle cars' of the last generation.
This body shape finished with the XH series and Ford moved on the the EA model Falcons.
EA Ford Falcon
With the demise of the X series of Falcon the next generation (in my opinion was the nicest looking shape that Ford had given a falcon for a long time.
The EA was released in 1988 and it was wildly circulated that Ford had used a 'wind tunnel' in coming up with the final design.
This new Falcon was really denting the dominance of the Holden Commodore and with its seating capacity was about the only sedan then available to be used as a Taxi.
The E series progressed up to 1998 when the EL was released which once again in my own opinion was the best model of any car every made in Australia. People that drive these cars including myself swear by the EL Falcon for the driver comfort fuel economy and low maintenance costs.
AU Ford Falcon
After Ford decided to end the E series and bring out the AU model in 1998 the s**t appeared to hit the fan with the Ford fans.
I believe that this model was not well received for various reasons.
One was the perceived poor build quality, the 'waterfall' grill was not popular with prospective purchased, all in all Ford Falcon popularity dived. Once again the Holden Commodore reigned supreme.
The Ford engineers got to work and in 2002 the BA model was introduced to the Aussie public. The BA had been given a complete make over, going back to what we call the 'European' look.
It was such a turn around that the BA Falcon that year won the very important (for sales) Wheels Car of the Year award.
This award drove the sales up high enough to eclipse the Holden Commodore for some time.
In 2005 the BF followed on from the BA. Knowing that they were on a winner Ford concentrated mainly on under the covers improvements to this model.
Things like fuel economy claims of 22 miles/gallon were put forward, stability control was also enhanced.
FG Ford Falcon and beyond...
The FG model released in 2008 could very well be the last generation Ford Falcon made in Australia but who knows. Critics have had the Falcon dead and buried before!
The FG Falcon was designed very much with safety in mind and it was the first car manufactured in Australia to be awarded the top 5 star ANCAP crash safety test. Obtaining a score of 34.6 from a possible maximum of 37.
Not too shabby I say !
Further improvement have been mooted for the FG. One being a liquid-injected E-gas engine to be available shortly. Also possibly a turbo-charged four cylinder engine is planned for this model.
As at the writing, Ford have said that there will be 50th Anniversary models in both the XR6 Sedan and the XR6 Ute styles of the G Series Falcon.
Some of the special features will be special XR50 badging, 18 inch alloy wheels, specially designed tail lights and many more to make them stand out from the standard Falcon range.
As you can see I have had a love affair with the Ford Falcon for many years and I personally will be very sad when it is put to rest...