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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

CRM Data Analyst – Part time – Permanent – Surrey – Circa £28,000 pro rata

£15000 - £16800 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Mechanical Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A key client in the East Midlands are re...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £31000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobWe are looking ...

Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The Job...Due to continued ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice