BILL DIX

CEO WHO SAVED FAL­CON BY CAN­NING THE MIS­GUIDED CAPRI­CORN PROJECT

Wheels (Australia) - - Ford Falcons Influentia­l People -

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.

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