Falcon’s final flight
... and the ute and Territory SUV join in. We take the last Fords on an emotional farewell drive before the factory closure next Friday
FORD’S Broadmeadows head office is a deconstruction zone.
Behind a zigzag of temporary fences, the big office building near the giant Ford sign — a landmark on the Hume Highway north of Melbourne since 1960 — is being renovated.
It will soon house designers and engineers who will continue to develop cars of the future — but they’ll be made overseas.
Signs warn of asbestos removal, another indication of just how long the buildings and the brand have been a part of the Australian landscape.
It was here long before we knew asbestos was deadly, and six years before Australia began using decimal currency.
Barely a stone’s throw from the iconic art deco building is the assembly line, set to fall silent forever next Friday. The Geelong factory produced its last engine on Monday, after 91 years of operation.
We’re in Broadmeadows on a Sunday afternoon to get the keys to the three remaining models made here — a Falcon sedan and ute and a Territory SUV — for a symbolic farewell drive.
The eerie silence is broken by the occasional clink of gates shifting in the strong winds.
The train station on the western fence of the Broadmeadows factory — the end of the Upfield line, reopened in 1965 to transport Ford workers — soon will take only the occasional local wanting a trip into town. Across the street from the Barry Road staff entrance is a small group of shops. “Fordgate” houses a kebab joint, milk bar, bakery, coffee shop and bottle shop — small businesses that have largely thrived on Ford’s foot traffic over the years.
At its peak in the 1980s, when Ford built more than 600 cars a day, nearly 5200 workers were employed at