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

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Cover Story -

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

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