Top10 Facts you didn’t know about Ford’s Hale­wood fac­tory

The sis­ter plant to Da­gen­ham and just as im­por­tant. Here’s why.

Classic Ford - - TOP TEN -

1Short of space at Da­gen­ham, where the new Cortina was sell­ing so fast that it was dom­i­nat­ing the Es­sex site, Ford needed an ad­di­tional as­sem­bly plant. It was Govern­ment pres­sure which caused them to choose a green­field site at Hale­wood, just 6 miles south-east of the cen­tre of Liver­pool, and ad­ja­cent to the A561 (Liver­pool-Widnes) road. Part of the lo­ca­tion strat­egy was that the new fac­tory was close to the Liver­pool-Lon­don main­line rail­way, and could send/re­ceive cars and com­po­nents on those tracks. Mersey­side soon be­came a cen­tre for car man­u­fac­ture in the 1960s, for Vaux­hall also started build­ing on the other side of the river, and Tri­umph fol­lowed suit close to Hale­wood it­self.

2The first Ford cars — Anglia 105Es (sa­loons, es­tates and vans) and, shortly, the new Cor­sairs — were pro­duced at Hale­wood in late 1963. Ear­lier, a ‘pilot build’ fa­cil­ity for the Anglias, had al­ready been run in at an­other build­ing on Liver­pool air­port land in 1962. By the mid-1960s, more than 250,000 Anglias were be­ing built at Hale­wood ev­ery year.

3There were al­ways two dis­tinctly sep­a­rate fac­tory op­er­a­tions at Hale­wood. The clos­est to Liver­pool was the in­te­grated car as­sem­bly plant, while an­other, along­side it, was a ded­i­cated gear­box man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tion. Links with other Ford fac­to­ries (com­po­nents such as en­gines, or com­pleted cars) were kept by run­ning reg­u­lar ded­i­cated freight trains on the nearby elec­tri­fied line.

4Hale­wood was al­ways the ‘Home of the Anglia’ (later ‘Home of the Es­cort’), but also saw the build­ing of Cor­sairs (1963 to 1969), and Capris (1969 to 1976). The Capri tooling and jig­ging took over from the Cor­sair in 1968/1969:

“HALE­WOOD WAS HOME TO THE CAPRI UN­TIL 1976 THE TOOLING TAK­ING OVER FROM THE COR­SAIR IN 1968/1969”

398,440 Capris were even­tu­ally built at Hale­wood be­fore the end came in 1976. Anglia as­sem­bly gave way to the Es­cort in 1967/1968.

5Al­most ev­ery Es­cort Twin Cam pro­duc­tion car was built at Hale­wood, be­tween 1968 and 1971, the vast ma­jor­ity be­ing in right-hand drive for the UK mar­ket, and painted white. To­wards the end of the run, other cars were made avail­able, and a lim­ited num­ber were sent out to Aus­tralia in CKD kit form. Twin Cam as­sem­bly started on nor­mal Es­cort pro­duc­tion lines, but the shells were later shunted into a spe­cial area for the twin-cam en­gines and spe­cial trans­mis­sions to be fit­ted. Dur­ing 1970, Hale­wood also as­sem­bled the first Es­cort RS1600s on the same ba­sis.

6Capri as­sem­bly started at Hale­wood be­fore the end of 1968, and soon there was a par­al­lel as­sem­bly process in Cologne. Ford’s orig­i­nal flag­ship Capri, the RS2600, was never built at Hale­wood, but ev­ery other Mk1 — from 1.3-litre to 3-litre — took shape on Mersey­side. The last Hale­wood-built Mk1 Capris of all were the RS3100s, which were built be­tween Novem­ber 1973 and Fe­bru­ary 1974.

7Hale­wood’s trans­mis­sion plant was split off, fi­nan­cially and phys­i­cally, from the as­sem­bly plant in 2001. It is now a 50/50 op­er­a­tion with Ge­trag, sup­ply­ing front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive man­ual trans­mis­sions to Ford, and also to sev­eral Ge­trag cus­tomers.

8The Fo­cus, which grad­u­ally took over from the Es­cort, was never built at Hale­wood, but this did not mean the end for the Mersey­side fac­tory, as Es­cort as­sem­bly con­tin­ued steadily un­til 2000. Once the Es­cort had been re­tired, that marked the end of the as­sem­bly of Ford-badged cars in this plant.

9After a cor­po­rate re-shuf­fle, fol­low­ing Ford’s mas­sive in­vest­ment in Jaguar (which it had bought in 1989), the use of the Hale­wood as­sem­bly plant was re-al­lo­cated to Jaguar, where X-Type man­u­fac­ture was con­cen­trated from 2001. Al­though X-Types had unique styling, and V6 en­gines, many had Ford-en­gi­neered four-wheel drive, and the un­der­body plat­forms and some sus­pen­sion sys­tems were shared with those of the lat­est Mon­deos, though the Mon­deo was never as­sem­bled at Hale­wood.

10Ford sold its in­ter­ests in Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata in 2008, which in­cluded the sale of the Hale­wood car as­sem­bly, but not the trans­mis­sion man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity. Jaguar X-Type as­sem­bly was al­ways cen­tred at Hale­wood un­til 2009, but by that time it had been joined by the Land Rover Free­lander. From 2010, af­ter a huge new in­vest­ment in fa­cil­i­ties, it be­came busier than ever, and has be­come the man­u­fac­tur­ing cen­tre for the best-sell­ing Range Rover Evoque range.

Hale­wood grew quickly in the ’60s. Ford no longer owns the car as­sem­bly plant, but still has a stake in the gear­box man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tion next door.

Painted Mk2 Capri shells roll down the line in 1975.

Pic­nic on the banks of the Mersey over­look­ing the im­pres­sive Hale­wood plant? Pos­si­bly!

With the Cortina tak­ing over the Da­gen­ham plant, its sis­ter car, the Cor­sair was built at Hale­wood over its en­tire pro­duc­tion run.

Mk1 Es­corts were built at Hale­wood right from the start — in­clud­ing Twin Cams and early RS1600s, too.

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