The day the Falcon died proved to be a relatively low-key occasion at Broadmeadows. No pomp. Little ceremony. No outsiders. AMC wraps up Ford’s manufacturing closure... and, conversely, reports on the unexpected return of the Tickford name.
TfoT he day the Falcon died proved to be a relatively low-key occasion at Broadmeadows. No pomp. Little ceremony. No company outsiders. Ford wanted it to be a private affair for forr its workers, who began arriving for their last shift just after 6am on October 7. Media and a few Blue Oval enthusiasts gathered outside the facility’s gates and weren’t privy to the ‘Kodak moments’ held inside the factory. Like the lyrics of a wellknown Cold Chisel song it was a case of standing on the outside looking in... and trying to catch a glimpse of any activity. The last Ford Territory, a Winter White TS featuring the Barra 4.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine, rolled off the line at about 9.30am. A short-time later a Kinetic Blue XR6 followed it, as the last Ford made here, after 91 years of automotive manufacturing in Australia. The last ute was made a few weeks earlier, but it joined the send-off. The flagship Ford’s 56-year run at Broadmeadows saw a total of 3,578,689 Falcons – comprising sedans, wagons, utes and panel vans – produced since the XK started in June 1960. Late morning saw many workers leave the site for the final time, some eager to tell their stories, while others were keen to beat a hasty escape. One worker who did hang around outside the gates told how workers signed the last car in hidden places.
Just after noon Graeme Whickman, president and CEO, Ford Australia, fronted the media outside the gate.
“Today is an emotional day for all of us at Ford,” he said. “We are saying goodbye to some of our proud and committed manufacturing employees and marking an end to 91 years of manufacturing in Australia. But, as the country’s largest automotive investor and soon employer, we have been able to transfer many employees from our plants to our design, engineering and testing facilities across Victoria.
“Ford will remain a major presence in Australia and we will carry forward the legacy of our manufacturing team by continuing to design and engineer world-class vehicles for Australia
and the world for many years to come.”
Ford waved goodbye to 600 manufacturing employees. A further 160 will be redeployed to new product development roles.
Ford says it will be Australia’s leading automotive employer by late 2017 with 2000 team members. Of those, 1100 will work in design and engineering at the global Product Development hub, for vehicles such as the Ranger pick-up and Everest SUV. This action will be based at Broadmeadows, while in Geelong, Ford’s Research and Development Centre will continue to support advanced engineering work. The 950-hectacre proving ground in Lara, outside Geelong, will continue to see locally designed and engineered vehicles put through their paces.
While Broadmeadows, Geelong and Lara live on, the Falcon joins the dodo. In its heyday Falcon sold in numbers large enough to top the Australian market. The biggest single year of Falcon sales was 1995, when 89,679 vehicles – comprising 81,366 sedans, 6922 utes and 1391 vans – hit the road. Now it’s a case of ‘hit the road, Jack’.
On October 7 a little bit of Australian culture died with the 56-year-old nameplate’s passing.
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