Australia mourns as Ford Falcon rides into the sunset

It could be the end of a motoring era as a legendary car falls victim to global belt-tightening

It is one of Australia's oldest and most deep-seated rivalries, more divisive than religion, politics or even football. And it is determined before you're born: depending on your family allegiance, you'll either be Holden or Ford, the only two car brands that count in the suburbs.

It matters not that both companies are American-owned (Holden by General Motors), because for decades their Australian subsidiaries have built models specially designed for the home market: in Holden's case the iconic Commodore, in Ford's case the equally iconic Falcon.

Now the nation – or, to be more precise, half the nation – is in mourning following news that the all-Australian Falcon is to be unceremoniously ditched. The US parent company has decided that it no longer makes economic sense to manufacture different models for different countries. "Those days are gone," Ford's world president and chief executive, Alan Mulally, declared at last week's Detroit Motor Show.

The timing could not be worse for Falcon lovers, preparing to celebrate the big sedan's 50th birthday later this year. Three Facebook sites have been set up by outraged fans, with even Holden supporters urging Ford to save Australia's longest-running model, in the interests of healthy competition.

Nearly every Australian has fond memories of family holidays spent travelling in the roomy Falcon or Commodore. Lovers of the vintage models spend all their free time and thousands of dollars carefully restoring and modifying old bangers.

The Falcon was Australia's fifth-highest-selling car last year, with sales of more than 31,000, compared with nearly 45,000 for the top-selling Commodore. However, all large car models in Australia have suffered from flagging sales in recent years because of higher fuel prices.

There are also fears, which Ford has done nothing to allay, that the Falcon's demise will spell the end of local manufacture. The Falcon has been the mainstay of those operations, with Ford Australia employing nearly 5,000 people at its factories in Victoria.

Mr Mulally declined to reveal whether it was part of the company's long-term strategy to retain the Australian business, which lost $274m (£153m) last year. He said: "Australia is a very important market for us and we've worked hard to be competitive. No matter what, we're going to serve the Australian market."

The first Ford Falcon, the XK sedan, rolled off the assembly line in September 1960. The current model, the seventh-generation FG series, launched two years ago, will not be replaced when production ends in 2015, although industry watchers say the name may survive on locally- badged cars.

Last weekend dozens of Falcon owners staged a protest rally in Queensland, driving in convoy along the picturesque coast road between Cairns and Port Douglas. Organisers pledged to lobby American executives to continue producing the model.

"We'll let them know how strongly we feel about it," said Neil Newcombe, a diehard Falcon fan. "From an Australian point of view, we want to keep [the car] as Australian as we can." Another Ford owner said: "The Falcon is a great Aussie icon. It would be a crime to get rid of it."

Although some Holden fans have been gleeful about the Falcon's passing, others have expressed solidarity. "If they stop making the Falcon, Holden will suffer as well," one warned on Facebook. "We'll have some crap front-wheel-drive thing from the US, so even the Holden fans should show their support."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Danny Cipriani of England breaks clear to score his second try
Life and Style
New research says leaving your desk can help you to avoid serious illness
Arts and Entertainment
tvSPOILER ALERT: Like a mash-up of 28 Days Later, Braveheart, The Killing and Lord of the Rings, this GoT episode was a belter
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager / CAD Engineer

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is the UK subsidia...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Cloud ERP Solution Provide...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral