John Mole’s 31 years at Ford

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle News -

“We had the best years at Ford. We were pro­duc­ing cars that were made in Aus­tralia, we had in­ter­est­ing work to do, and it was great.”

John Mole is speak­ing about the ex­pe­ri­ence of his own 31 years at Ford Aus­tralia, but he could eas­ily be speak­ing for the many thou­sands of peo­ple who have also worked at the com­pany.

“One of the good things about work­ing at Ford was the moral in­tegrity. Peo­ple like to give big com­pa­nies a hard time, but I know the cus­tomers al­ways got treated well. And the en­gi­neer­ing was good,” Mole says.

He is 75 now and liv­ing in Gee­long, driv­ing a Ford Ter­ri­tory partly from pride and loy­alty and partly be­cause he still gets a 22 per­cent dis­counted priced.

Mole joined FoMoCo in 1968 after an at­tempt at teach­ing and was quickly into the prod­uct de­vel­op­ment ranks after grad­u­at­ing in en­gi­neer­ing from univer­sity.

“I re­alised I was bet­ter off as an engi­neer than a high school teacher,” he says.

His first work when he joined was in the chas­sis group in Gee­long, be­fore he moved into power-steer­ing de­vel­op­ment for the up­com­ing XA Fal­con, in­clud­ing trou­bleshoot­ing a se­ries of prob­lems. It’s a pat­tern that was to be re­peated through­out his ca­reer.

“I was in drum brakes at first, which I re­alised at the time was a dead-end job,” he laughs now.

Mole moved around through var­i­ous chas­sis and driv­e­line groups, but some of the work he en­joyed most – and which dove­tailed with week­end work with mo­tor­sport mates – was on the sus­pen­sion tun­ing that cul­mi­nated in the orig­i­nal XR ver­sion of the EB Fal­con.

“The first of the XRs were won­der­ful han­dling cars. Peo­ple were com­par­ing them to the BMW 5 Se­ries,” he says.

It was the Tick­ford project, a spe­cial ve­hi­cles op­er­a­tion ig­nited by Jac Nasser with a $500,000 bud­get and en­gi­neer­ing con­nec­tions to Bri­tain, which re­ally fired Mole’s en­thu­si­asm.

“The time work­ing with Tick­ford was a real high­light. And it was, in part, be­cause Ford man­age­ment left us alone.”

His early mem­o­ries of car-mak­ing are not great, but work­ing on a se­ries of all-new Fal­cons – in­clud­ing the pro­gram to put the first plas­tic petrol tank in a mass-pro­duced car any­where in the world – gave him plenty of sat­is­fac­tion.

“Aus­tralia was build­ing rub­bish and sell­ing it suc­cess­fully. The li­ai­son with Mazda, which has one of the high­est qual­ity stan­dards in the world, was a god­send to Ford. The Laser, which had to be built to the same qual­ity stan­dard as the Mazda 323, changed qual­ity at Ford.

“The ob­jec­tive with the AU Fal­con was to pro­duce some­thing that cus­tomers didn’t have a prob­lem with. We launched and there wasn’t a sin­gle prob­lem with the car.” He re­tired in 1999. How, then, does Mole feel about the end of the Fal­con, which is the be­gin­ning of the end for all Aus­tralian car­mak­ing as Holden and Toy­ota shut their fac­to­ries in 2017.

“To some ex­tent it was in­evitable. I’m al­ways as­tounded by the in­ter­fer­ence by var­i­ous govern­ments.

“There was a time when, if you wanted to go any­where out­side the city, you had to have Fal­cons and Hold­ens. But it’s all come to an end.”

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