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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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