CEO WHO SAVED FALCON BY CANNING THE MISGUIDED CAPRICORN PROJECT
BILL DIX, Ford Australia CEO from 1981 to 1990, is best remembered as the man who cancelled the Capricorn program in favour of retaining the Falcon. For two years in the early 1980s, confronting a second energy crisis and Holden’s move to the smaller Commodore, Ford seriously considered replacing the Xd-generation Falcon with a stretched, front-drive Telstar/ Mazda 626 in both hatchback and sedan forms. The product planners’ idea was to extend the wheelbase by 135mm and overall length by around 225mm, but without adding any width. The inevitable result was a long and skinny car. They struggled with the project, spending valuable engineering and design resources on what, hindsight tells us, was a crazy project.
Local content demands meant building the Capricorn’s four-cylinder engine in Geelong (thus forcing the end of V8 assembly). Gradually, Ford realised that with continuous engineering improvements, the Falcon used less fuel than the rival Holden. To his great credit it was Dix, as the new CEO, who cancelled the Capricorn program. However, Capricorn’s impact on future Falcons was immense. There was nothing in the pipeline beyond XE. The planners realised they needed an interim facelift (XF) while rushing to pull together the program that became EA.