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Ford Fairmont

BA Fairmont

Ford logo1 Sep 2002

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

The most changed model in its 42-year local history, only the Falcon’s doors and some under-body bits were carried over from the unfortunate AU.

From the flattened roof, squared-off nose and German Audi-style tail, to the all-new soft-feel interior that even featured altered seating and steering wheel position mounts, everything one could see and touch in the BA was modern yet conservative.

But underneath a revolution took place.

Two virtually all-new engines, complemented to a Tiptronic-style four-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox, were introduced: a 182kW/380Nm 4.0-litre OHC variable-valve timed inline six-cylinder engine, and an American-sourced but Aussie-developed 220kW/470Nm 5.0-litre SOHC 24-valve V8. All were significantly gutsier than their predecessors.

“Control Blade” multi-link independent rear suspension (sedan only), an 80-per cent increase in torsional rigidity, completely new rack and pinion steering, improved safety and refinement properties, and far-more computer power elevated the Falcon to a world-class standard in driving, comfort and ride terms.

Only the portly weight and high fuel consumption remained problem areas. BMW’s E39 5 Series was the yardstick and Ford Australia succeeded, simply because it went beyond “near enough” to create a radically better Falcon.

And as the 2004 Territory SUV it (partly) spawned has proved, the BA philosophy didn’t stop here.

Sales skyrocketed and, after 36 years, the Falcon won its third Wheels Car of the Year award.

All BA Fairmonts included four airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, keyless entry, alloy wheels, power windows, power steering, electric mirrors, a CD player and climate control air-conditioning.

New standard features: independent rear suspension (sedan only), side airbags, trip computer, powered driver’s seat.

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