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."

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
News
peopleSwimmer also charged with crossing double land lines and excessive speeding
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style