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The History of Ford Australia

Since a Ford Model T was first spotted on Australian roads in 1904 the company has grown from strength to strength with the Falcon now being one of Australia’s best selling, home-grown vehicles. The Falcon was taken to the height of the Australian car industry through strong competition from another Australian manufacturer, General Motors Holden.  The Ford verse Holden debate has been running for decade without either maintaining a significant margin over the other since the late 1960’s.  The competition has shaped the direction of the Australian car industry.

Ford entered the Australian car market in 1904, but it wasn’t until 1925 that Ford opened its first factory at Geelong to start local manufacturing of the Model T.  An Australian design and developed car was talked about at Ford as early as 1955.  Initially the powers that be in Australia travelled to America to look at redesigning the Zephyr for local roads; however it wasn’t seen as an adequate model.  Instead the Falcon, which was still in early stages of design, was considered a better option.

A new factory was built in 1959 and the first Falcon was rolled off the assembly line in September 1960.  Although the car was designed and built in Australia, among consumers the Ford was not considered tough enough for Australian roads.  Falcon was not selling as well in the early days as its competition, the Kingswood, was considered a better option.       

Ford started developing high performance Falcons in the early 70’s, but the ‘Supercar Scare’ instigated by an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald on June 25, 1972 by Evan Green caused fear amongst consumers that car companies were making Australian roads much more dangerous.  Ford abandoned the high performance program after pressure from the public and the government.

The scare didn’t stop the Ford from being considered a ‘muscle’ car, especially after the XB Falcon appeared in the Australian iconic road film ‘Mad Max’.  At the time Ford was also the car of choice for high-performance police vehicles.  

The Commodore re-ignited the car war on its release in 1978 and the battle for supremacy has continued to this day. Previously the Kingswood was dominate in the mainstream car market, but with the release of the Commodore the Falcon crawled back market share and out sold Holden for the first time in the family car market.  The 1979 XD Falcon was based on the European Ford Granada and it eventually outsold the Holden Commodore.

For much of the 80’s Ford was on top of Holden until the release of the Commodore VN, which received a great response on the market after capturing the Wheels Car of the Year.  In response Ford fast tracked the release of the EA, which suffered in reliability because of limited testing before release.

Since the release of the EA, Ford has developed and released cars only after comprehensive testing to recover from the stigma of the EA release.  In recent times Ford has won numerous Australian awards for design and manufacturing.

Now Ford Australia is a well established Australian car manufacturer with over 5000 employees and has $1.6 billion in assets. According to Ford Australia president, Tom Gorman, Ford is moving from strength to strength with its development of new vehicles that will be appearing on the Australian roads.

“The new BF Falcon and SY Territory models incorporate a host of changes aimed at delivering even more driving enjoyment and fuel economy advantages," Mr Gorman said.  "Upgrades to the engines and transmissions that power the Falcon and Territory range will ensure that these locally produced vehicles remain at the technological forefront of Australian made vehicles."

Ford looks to be moving forward after the announcement of the new Design Director of Ford Australia Pacific and Africa, Scott Strong.  Mr Strong previously designed the BA which won the Australian Design Award.

FALCON MODELS RELEASED: (year – model) 1960 – XK Falcon, 1962 – XL Falcon, 1964 – XM Flacon, 1965 – XP Falcon, 1966 – XR Falcon, 1968 – XT Falcon, 1969 – XW Falcon, 1971 – XY Falcon, 1972 – XA Falcon, 1973 – XB Falcon, 1976 – XC Falcon, 1979 – XD Falcon, 1982 – XE Falcon, 1984 – XF Falcon, 1988 – EA Falcon, 1991 – EB Falcon, 1992 – EBII Falcon, 1993 – ED Falcon, 1994 – EF Falcon, 1995 – EFII Falcon, 1996 – EL Falcon, 1998 – AU Falcon, 2000 – AUII Falcon, 2001 – AUIII Falcon, 2002 – BA Falcon, 2004 – BA MKII Falcon and in 2005 – BF Falcon.