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Ford Falcon homes in on half century

Golden anniversary: Ford's Falcon turns 50 on June 28, sparking celebrations at Ford Australia.

Aussie Falcon’s 50th anniversary will be just the first Blue Oval milestone in 2010

1 Apr 2010

AUSTRALIA’S longest surviving automotive nameplate will notch up half a century at the crease on Monday (June 28) and Ford Australia has produced a 50th anniversary Falcon logo to mark its unbeaten innings.

Released yesterday, precisely 85 years after the Ford Motor Company of Australia was officially established (on March 31, 1925), Ford says the logo will titivate “a range of product and celebratory activities” in the Falcon’s 50th year.

Among them will be a range of facelifted Falcon models powered by upgraded six-cylinder and (new) 5.0-litre ‘Coyote’ V8 engines that meet the tighter new Euro 4 emissions standard, which binds all car-makers from July 1 - three days after the Falcon turns 50.

Representing the first facelift for the FG Falcon since it went on sale in May 2008, the 2010 Falcon sedans and utes will be Ford’s direct answer to Holden’s MY10 Commodore sedan, ute and wagon line-up, which went on sale last September and will be joined by a 3.0-litre E85 ethanol-capable version late this year.

Ford’s new liquid injection LPG Falcon has has been pushed back from October to early 2011 and, while Holden is yet to commit to a Euro 4-compliant replacement for its LPG Commodore, Ford now says its first ever four-cylinder Falcon (powered by FoMoCo’s new direct-injection turbocharged EcoBoost four) could also be just a year away.

“Falcon has a history of being first to market with a wide variety of technology and safety advancements,” said Ford Australia marketing, sales and service vice-president Beth Donovan.

“We will continue that tradition in the next 12 to 18 months with the introduction of an all-new liquid phase injection LPG system and the world's first rear-wheel-drive EcoBoost four-cylinder engine.”

27 center imageWhile Ford has also promised to produce the first diesel Territory in 2011, the Falcon news comes just a week after Ford announced it will eliminate the longest-running Falcon model ever, the 1998 AU Falcon-based BFIII wagon, which will be directly replaced by a diesel-powered version of the imported Mondeo wagon from July.

It also follows increased speculation about the future of the Falcon, which Ford says will not be decided before 2012.

It has, however, declared that as part of its new ‘One Ford’ global model strategy, the current (seventh-generation) Falcon will be the last to be designed and engineered exclusively in and for Australia, which means the next all-new Falcon – due by 2015 – is likely to be based on either Ford’s next-generation (rear-drive) Mustang or (front/all-wheel drive) Taurus.

The first Aussie Falcon – like the model of the same name that was produced by the Ford Motor Company of Argentina between 1962 and 1991 – was itself based on an American design, but the Falcon model name only lasted a decade in the US, where it was discontinued in 1970.

Australia’s inaugural XK Falcon went into production on April 28, 1960 at Broadmeadows, almost exactly two months after Ford Australia’s first straight six was produced at Ford’s engine plant (April 29, 1960), and went on sale on September 14 that year.

Apart from its Melbourne assembly plant and Geelong engine factory, 2010 will also mark 85 years since Ford Australia commenced production of the Model T (on July 4, 1925), although Ford vehicles have been sold in Australia since 1904.

Ford’s Fairlane nameplate, which was killed off in Australia in December 2007, dates back even longer than the Falcon, to 1959. While it was originally also based on a US model of the same name, some versions were imported, handing the title of ‘longest-running nameplate in Australian motoring history’ to the Falcon.

Meantime, Ford’s now arch-rival General Motors purchased Holden Motor Builders to form General Motors-Holden's Ltd (GM-H) in 1931 and the company produced the first “all-Australian” car in 1948 – the 48-215 ‘FX’ Holden.

While that was 12 years before the Falcon, the first (VB) Commodore did not roll off Holden’s production line for another three decades, in 1978.

As with the Falcon, Commodore sales are at their lowest level ever after a decade of decline in Australia’s large-car market as customers downsize or buy SUVs instead, yet the big Holden has remained Australia’s most popular car for the past 13 years.

“There is no doubt that Falcon has been a true icon of the Australian motoring scene since 1960,” continued Ms Donovan. “2010 is a very special year for Ford in Australia. In addition to celebrating the 50th birthday of Falcon, we are also marking our 85th year as a company in Australia.”

Designed to commemorate its five-decade milestone, Ford says the 50th anniversary Falcon logo was inspired by the original Falcon bird logo from the early 1960s.

"We wanted to recognise the heritage in the original Falcon motifs of the early sixties, but it was also imperative that we created a new design that reflects the contemporary and dynamic vehicle that Falcon represents today and will tomorrow,” said Ford Australia design manager Todd Willing.

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