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....
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".
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 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)
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!