Two Falcons - Seven Generations
Two Falcons - seven generations and 45 years apart - gathered near the birthplace of Ford Australia today to mark the 45th anniversary of the legendary Australian family car.
On June 28, 1960, the first Australian-built XK Falcon rolled off the production line at Broadmeadows, launching the longest continuous model line in Australian motoring history.
Since then, Australians have bought more than 3 million Falcons, making the iconic brand the biggest selling in the history of Australian motoring.
Ford Australia President Tom Gorman said the Falcon had a unique place in Australia's social history.
"Over the years, the Falcon has established itself as a brand name synonymous with Australian innovation in design and engineering," he said.
"It has spearheaded the charge by the Australian motoring industry to become a world class player with a car featuring the latest in engineering technology, and personifying the changes in styling tastes of Australians over more than four decades.
"In the sixties, the Falcon was all chrome and white wall tyres, while in the seventies we had burnt orange soft top Falcon coupes to go with our flares and platform shoes.
"Today, the BA MkII Falcon reflects Australia's growing sophistication in the world of the 21st century."
Mr Gorman said most Australians had a special memory of a Falcon.
"It might have been watching Moffat, Johnson or Ambrose greet the chequered flag on their way to another race win, their first set of wheels after securing their driver's licence or loading up the Falcon wagon for the traditional family holiday," he said.
The Falcon has been part of Australian life longer than colour television, decimal currency, maternity leave, the jumbo jet, the pill, Four Corners and the Opera House.
During its lifetime, the Falcon has seen ten prime ministers, five popes, ten Olympic Games and two national anthems.
The BA Falcon is the 21st model designation for the Falcon. It is estimated that Australian Falcons have collectively covered more than 450 billion kilometres since they first hit the road in 1960.
Today, the XK Falcon lined up alongside the latest BA Falcon MkII at the Ford Discovery Centre in Geelong to mark the occasion.
Also on hand were two Ford employees who – like the XK Falcon – started their careers in 1960.
Giorgio Torcia began work as a maintenance fitter in July 1960, and has continued to work in the body build department of the Broadmeadows plant ever since.
Torcia has seen every iteration of the Falcon go down the line in his time.
"When I started there it was all manual labor and we lifted every part of the car to put it together.
"There were no robots, all the welding was done by hand.
"The way we build cars today is 300 per cent better than how we did it then," he said.
Allan Jones began work in production control in Ford Geelong and went onto a career in product engineering that has also spanned every version of the Falcon.
"Back then we didn't have computers, it was all manual labor.
"Everything we do now is just so far advanced from the way did things then."
Picture 1 – The old and the new. One of the very first XK Falcons lines up alongside a current Falcon BA MkII XR8 to mark 45 years since Ford Australia started assembling Australia's longest running and biggest selling nameplate – the Falcon.
Picture 2 – Ford Australia workers Giorgio Torcia (left) and Allan Jones were on hand to commemorate the 45th anniversary since Ford started assembling the Falcon. Both men started their long running careers with Ford the same year as the first XK Falcon rolled off the assembly line in 1960 and have seen every one of the 20 different models that have been built in Australia since then.
Picture 3 - Ford Australia workers Allan Jones (left) and Giorgio Torcia were young men when they started their careers with Ford in 1960, the same year the first XK Falcon rolled off the assembly line. They are still with Ford and have played their part in the construction of more than 3 million Falcons since then.
Picture 4 – Creature comforts were far and few between when Ford Australia workers Allan Jones (front) and Giorgio Torcia started work on the first XK Falcon back in 1960. No CD, no bucket seats, no cruise control – just a cigarette lighter and two-speed heater! Both men have continued their careers with Ford Australia since then.
Ford Falcon - A Brief History
The initial decision to launch an Australian-built Ford was made in 1955, when it was decided that Ford Australia would build the Zephyr locally from the ground up, rather than simply assemble kits that arrived by ship from Dagenham in the United Kingdom.
But in 1958, during a trip to the United States to view the Zephyr that was being redesigned for Australia, Ford Australia Managing Director Charles Smith, decided that the car was not right for the local market.
He was then shown a mock-up of the Falcon that was being designed for the Canadian and American markets and decided that it was the car for Australia.
The Falcon made its debut with the XK in September 1960. At the time it was described as a 'compact', as it was smaller than the popular family cars of the period.
The car and its successor, the XL, were based on an American design, with some minor modifications for Australian conditions.
With the launch of the XM in 1964, the Falcon had more serious claims to being a car designed and engineered by Australians for Australian conditions.
Changes were made to the front and rear suspension, the braking system, clutch, rear axle, engine mounts and exhaust - all as a result of extensive research on the open road, the track and the dirt.
Ford Australia management went one step further with the launch of the XP Falcon in 1965. In an attempt to convince local fleet buyers of the robustness and durability of the Falcon, Deputy Managing Director Bill Bourke conceived the XP Durability Run.
The bold scheme involved pushing five standard Falcons to the limit around the demanding You Yangs Proving Ground driven by Australia’s top race and rally drivers. The goal was to clock 70,000 miles at an average speed per car of 70 miles per hour. Some of the five cars rolled, but after 8 ½ days driven at the limit, the five cars averaged a speed of 71.3 miles per hour.
That same year, the Falcon was named Wheels Car of the Year.
The following year, the bigger, more powerful XR Falcon was launched with an entirely new shape. The new model incorporated more Australian design input than previous models and featured a V8 engine for the first time. The XR Falcon also was the first model to carry the legendary GT badge.
The XT Falcon saw more powerful V8s, a synchromesh gearbox, dual circuit brakes and a choice of two automatic transmissions. It was followed by the XW and XY, remarkable for the eminently collectable GTHO Phase II and III.
In 1971, with the launch of the XA, the Falcon became a uniquely Australian car. There was no longer a US equivalent, the car was designed specifically for the local market.
Three years earlier, local Ford designers traveled to the US and spent most of the summer of 1968 working on the Falcon clay model. The design impressed Detroit, which soon after gave the go-ahead for a design centre at Broadmeadows, Victoria.
With the XB and XC came four-wheel disc brakes, four-barrel carburettors and an all-time classic Falcon, the Cobra. The XC also brought a famous 1-2 victory for Allan Moffat and Colin Bond at Bathurst in 1977.
The XD Falcon was the first to be designed in Australia from a clean piece of paper. Efficiency, interior space and weight reduction were the key elements of the new design. The car also featured a number of innovations, including a plastic fuel tank and plastic bumpers. Bucket seats were optional.
The following model, the XE, marked the introduction of electronic fuel injection and a Watts link coil-sprung rear-end. The car took Ford to number one in the market in 1982.
The XF was notable for the introduction of Ford's engine management system, EEC-IV, which managed the spark timing and air-fuel mix of the engine more efficiently.
A new shape for Falcon came with the EA, which also boasted an all-new front suspension and geometry. The new suspension was more durable than previous systems. Other advances included a four-speed automatic transmission, the high-security Tibbe locking system and a more fuel-efficient engine.
The EB and subsequent EB II offered handling improvements, the return of the V8 and ABS brakes for the first time on a mainstream Australian sedan. Security also was enhanced with the introduction of Smartlock.
The final facelift for the EA shape came with the ED, which offered more modern exterior colours, better side-impact crash protection and a host of under-the-bonnet changes to continue the refinement of the car's handling.
August 1994 saw a new shape and an Australian Design Award for the EF Falcon in recognition of several engineering advances. The modified engine was smoother running, with improved torque and power and a new EEC-V engine management system developed through Formula One racing. A standard airbag, better ride and handling and significant safety advances completed the upgrade. The car also featured the world's first airbag-compatible bull-bar.
The $40 million EL program brought further ride and handling improvements, latest generation ABS and an improved steering feel.
The $700 million AU Falcon saw the introduction of Computer Aided Design and Engineering, allowing for significant advances in chassis stiffness, aerodynamics and directional stability.
The AU program also saw the debut of a sophisticated double wishbone independent rear suspension and variable cam timing on prestige models. The AU was also the first car in its class to offer air-conditioning and automatic transmission as standard features.
The AUII and AUIII continued the Falcon tradition of innovation and value for money, featuring a standard passenger airbag, standard CD player, standard 16-inch wheels and 'Scheduled Servicing' to 60,000km included in the cost of the car.
In 2002 Ford launched the all-new BA Falcon with a new DOHC 4.0-litre engine, Sequential Sports Shift automatic transmission, a radical new Control Blade IRS and sleek new styling inside and out.
With a potent turbocharged version and DOHC V8 version also in the mix, the BA quickly won critical and sales acclaim, spearheading a sales revival by Ford and securing many of the major motoring awards including the Australia's Best Cars 'Best Family Car' title and the highly coveted Wheels COTY.
The latest MkII version was launched in 2004, adding numerous customer focused features including a Tremec six-speed manual transmission for the high performance XR range and cruise control across the sedan range.