Ford Australia manufactured the Falcon for 56 years, along with different locally-developed fashions just like the Fairlane and Territory. However whereas it was typically accused of being the Falcon Motor Firm, Ford has for many years supplied a variety of different automobiles.
Some have proved widespread, not less than for a time – the Laser, for instance, was as soon as considered one of Australia’s best-selling automobiles.
However not all Fords have been winners out there, nevertheless, with even some Australian-made fashions failing to make a lot of a ripple.
Observe: This text was first printed in 2020. We’re republishing a few of our hottest content material.
The Ford Territory was the primary domestically engineered, four-wheel drive Ford, proper? Not fairly.
In 1972, Ford began constructing a four-wheel drive model of the XY Falcon Utility. It didn’t get far, with manufacturing ending the identical 12 months.
Preliminary plans have been to promote the four-wheel drive ute in Queensland and New South Wales solely, after which doubtlessly roll it out to different states and even introduce a four-wheel drive wagon – a proto-Territory, if you’ll.
The Eagle Farm plant in Brisbane dealt with manufacturing because it might higher accommodate a extra time-intensive, low-volume venture than the busier Broadmeadows operation. Eagle Farm additionally dealt with native meeting for imported F-Collection vans and had equipped parts to Willys Motors, which assembled its CJ-5 and CJ-6 Jeeps domestically.
Delays sourcing the Jeep four-wheel drive parts led to the XY 4WD’s 1972 introduction, proper as the brand new XA was reaching showrooms. There have been plans to finally do a XA 4WD, nevertheless.
You’ll be able to inform an XY 4WD from its rear-wheel drive counterparts by its increased trip top, in addition to the goofy plastic entrance spoiler employed to cover a few of the greasy four-wheel drive bits beneath.
The XY ute was jacked up by 190mm (7.5 inches) on the entrance and 203mm (8 inches) on the rear. It adopted a leaf-sprung, reside entrance axle – a primary for the unibody Falcon – which required a number of rejigging and reinforcing beneath the bonnet, together with a slanting of the engine to the correct to supply clearance between the axle and the sump.
Priced at $3680, all 432 models used Ford’s 250 cubic-inch (4.1-litre) six-cylinder engine mated to a three-speed handbook transmission with a two-speed switch case. Kerb weight was 1642kg, with a payload of 625kg.
It would look fundamental however this was a plusher automobile than Land Rovers and Japanese 4WDs of the time, with a padded sprint panel, solar visors, and door-mounted arm rests. Equipment included a heavy-duty tow bar and a military-style excessive canvas cover.
Ford deliberate to provide 400 models and ended up manufacturing 432, however no extra. For no matter purpose – reportedly a failure to satisfy Australian Design Guidelines, however extra doubtless an absence of profitability – Ford discontinued the venture. As a substitute, these wanting a four-wheel drive ute have been steered in direction of the locally-converted F-Collection.
Ford, Holden and Chrysler all appeared to their American counterparts for inspiration over time, borrowing American nameplates (Caprice, Charger and many others) and paying homage to American designs. You want look no additional than the flagship traces of every of the Aussie Massive 3 to see simply how a lot American affect there was.
That additionally led to some intriguing fashions which American observers would have discovered fairly odd. Take the Ford Landau, a short-lived coupe companion to the Fairlane and LTD.
It took the physique of the XA Falcon Hardtop, itself closely impressed by the Ford Torino and Mercury Montego Sportsroof coupes, and added the extra formal entrance finish of the P5 LTD with its vacuum-operated hidden headlights, harking back to these of the bigger Mercury Marquis and Lincoln Continental.
The top end result was a curious mixture of formal and sporty styling, in sharp distinction to full-sized American luxurious coupes that might sometimes have a extra upright C-pillar and a extra stately rear. Ford did, nevertheless, revise the Falcon hardtop’s window line barely.
Landau, like Brougham, was a generic American trim stage identify that sometimes denoted a fully-loaded automobile with a vinyl roof – certainly, a landau roof was a kind of vinyl roof design. And sure, the Ford Landau got here with a vinyl roof.
It was specified to the identical stage because the LTD, with a 351 cubic-inch (5.8-litre) V8 with 216kW of energy and 515Nm of torque, mated to a three-speed automated transmission. Weighing over 130kg greater than the mechanically equivalent XB Falcon GT Hardtop, the Landau nonetheless had loads of punch for an enormous coupe.
Additionally normal on the LTD and Landau have been energy home windows, energy steering, air-conditioning and four-wheel disc brakes; leather-based upholstery was a $250 choice, although the Landau differed from the LTD in having bucket seats each entrance and rear.
Whereas the LTD, additionally new for 1973, had a wheelbase 127mm longer than that of the Fairlane, the Landau was now not and due to this fact no extra spacious (or simpler to see out of) than a Falcon hardtop. The Landau was cheaper than the LTD, although, at $6950; the LTD was an additional $800.
Coupes might have been dominating the American market within the Seventies, with coupe-only traces just like the Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Monte Carlo typically outselling the sedan/coupe/wagon traces on which they have been based mostly, however Australians have been a lot much less enthusiastic.
That utilized to luxurious automobile consumers, too, and so the Landau was discontinued after 1976. Simply 1385 have been made.
American Motors was smaller than Ford, Common Motors and Chrysler so it typically needed to do extra with much less. Whereas it offered pretty unsuccessful oddballs just like the 1975 Pacer, it additionally often had a stroke of genius like wedging Jeep mechanicals beneath a automobile physique (the 1980 AMC Eagle) or partnering with a trend label for a particular version.
That should unlikely of collaborations, the 1972 AMC Hornet Sportabout Gucci, bought Ford’s consideration. In 1976, it launched a collection of designer editions of its flagship American mannequin, the Lincoln Continental Mark IV coupe, which have been look packages co-created with upscale manufacturers Cartier, Pucci, Givenchy and Invoice Blass.
Lincoln would go on to supply designer editions into the Nineties. In 1980, Ford Australia adopted the lead of its head workplace and launched a designer version of its most costly native mannequin, the FC-series LTD.
The LTD Cartier was completed in champagne metallic with burgundy pinstriping. Inside, there was a selection of leather-based or the then-fashionable crushed velour for the seats, each of which have been colored champagne to match the carpeting.
In leather-trimmed fashions, there was a break from the beige within the type of burgundy accents on the seats, doorways and centre console. Additionally burgundy have been the leather-based purse, key case and journey pockets included with each LTD Cartier.
An influence moonroof was normal, although it might be deleted for a credit score. You additionally had a selection of 4.1-litre six-cylinder or 5.8-litre V8 engines.
The Cartier returned for 1981 however it could be its final 12 months – the following FD collection dropped the particular trim stage, plus the V8 and even the cool darkened tail lights.
And although Ford had supplied Silver Monarch, City Automobile and Cartier particular editions of the LTD over the previous few years, there would by no means once more be a particular version LTD after the Cartier.
Ford Australia first collaborated with tuning agency Tickford within the early Nineties, establishing a three way partnership referred to as Tickford Automobile Engineering. Whereas lots of TVE’s tasks have been Falcon-based, considered one of its first was based mostly on the Capri convertible.
The Capri was a Mazda 323-based, ItalDesign/Ghia-designed convertible developed by Ford Australia and exported to the US, the place it was offered because the Mercury Capri.
Although it reached Australian showrooms concurrently the Mazda MX-5, a sportier, rear-wheel drive rival, the Capri loved some modest reputation in Australia (although not a lot within the US). It was rather less dynamic than the Mazda however supplied a second row of seats, nevertheless small.
Although commonplace for a convertible in Australia, Capri gross sales had declined a bit by 1992. The Clubsprint was a method to appeal to consideration to the Capri once more and, aesthetically, it delivered. The ineffective second row was changed with a parcel shelf, with a double-bubble tonneau cowl – which Ford referred to as a Capote lid – that gave the Capri extra of a roadster look.
The Clubsprint additionally obtained extra aggressive entrance and rear styling, with quad spherical tail lights and a brand new entrance bumper with two spherical Hella driving lights. All Clubsprints have been Pearl Black with blue leather-based upholstery and a Momo steering wheel.
The one engine accessible was a turbocharged Mazda 1.6-litre four-cylinder with 100kW of energy, mated to a five-speed handbook transmission. TVE additionally lowered the suspension by 25mm on the entrance and 15mm on the rear and fitted distinctive 16-inch alloy wheels.
Simply 200 examples of the 1992 Capri Clubsprint have been produced, however Ford introduced it again in 1993. Clubsprints have been now accessible solely in white or inexperienced, whereas the usual engine – as on the common Capri – was a 77kW 1.6-litre four-cylinder, with the turbo 1.6-litre non-compulsory. The wild blue seats have been gone, changed with equally garish fabric and inexperienced leather-based upholstery.
The naturally-aspirated ‘93 was priced nearly identically to the turbocharged ‘92, with the extra highly effective engine costing an additional $2000. In accordance with CapriConvertible.com, the ‘93 Clubsprint was even rarer regardless of the extra engine choice – simply 158 have been produced, adopted by a mere 46 in 1994.
Capri gross sales had effectively and actually contracted by this level, each right here and within the US. The Capri was sitting at round 1 / 4 of its 1990 gross sales, sounding the dying knell for the little droptop.
Sadly, the tip of the Capri meant the tip of Ford Australia’s left-hand drive export program, so People would by no means get to expertise extra typical Australian fashions just like the Falcon and Territory.
The Grange was a mainstay of the HSV vary from 1996 till 2017, changing the HSV Statesman. In the meantime, the Blue Oval model had solely supplied the occasional, vaguely sporty-looking Sportsman version plus a short-lived Tickford suspension package deal throughout the NC technology.
Ford solely made two makes an attempt at a hotted-up luxurious limo to instantly rival the Grange. The primary got here throughout the finish of the NL Fairlane’s run, with Ford contracting Tickford Automobile Engineering in 1998 to create the Fairlane by Tickford. Simply 106 have been constructed, all in Navy Blue or Regency Crimson.
Borrowing elements from the EL Falcon GT of 1997, the Fairlane by Tickford’s Windsor V8 engine had an additional 30kW and 17Nm over the Fairlane for a complete of 195kW and 405Nm, simply 5kW down on the GT.
It undercut the HSV Grange 185i by $2725, however at $70,500 it additionally price a whopping $18,000 greater than the Fairlane Ghia V8 and $3500 greater than an LTD V8.
For the additional sum you bought distinctive 17-inch alloy wheels, a mesh grille, the GT’s larger brakes and a revised suspension tune, along with the extra highly effective V8. Inside, there have been leather-based sport seats, a wood-rimmed Momo steering wheel, and extra leather-based accents.
Ford thankfully averted the excesses of the EL GT, whose exterior modifications would have appeared try-hard on the bigger and extra conservative Fairlane Ghia.
The FBT additionally didn’t use the GT’s suspension tune, with Tickford retuning the Fairlane Ghia to enhance roadholding however not on the expense of trip high quality. That was smart, contemplating the NL was the final collection of Fairlane to make use of a reside rear axle.
Ford’s subsequent try at a hotted-up Fairlane arrived only a 12 months later in 1999.
FTE, or Ford Tickford Expertise, was a precursor to the better-known Ford Efficiency Automobiles (FPV). Sick of HSV stealing all of the thunder within the native sports activities sedan market, Ford as soon as once more tied up with Tickford and created the FTE efficiency model.
In 1999, Ford launched three FTE fashions: the Falcon-based TE50, the Fairmont-based TS50 and the Fairlane-based TL50.
Whereas HSV typically appeared positively boy-racerish with big spoilers and lairy physique kits, the FTE sedans have been dignified and understated, firming down their polarising AU bases. Rear spoilers have been even non-compulsory.
The TL50 was priced instantly towards the HSV Grange and was powered by an up to date Windsor V8 producing 200kW of energy and 420Nm of torque; the cheaper TS50 had an additional 20kW and 15Nm, whereas the Fairlane Ghia V8 had 175kW and 395Nm and the LTD V8 185kW and 412Nm.
The flagship FTE’s V8 was a fettled model of the Falcon XR8’s engine, with modifications like a bigger air consumption and a revised camshaft profile. Just like the TS50 solely a four-speed automated transmission was accessible, although it had a manual-shift mode.
Different modifications included larger brakes with twin-piston calipers behind new 18-inch alloy wheels, plus some carbon-fibre inside trim, charcoal or aubergine leather-based upholstery, and white devices.
Whereas Tickford did a commendable job firming down the AU Fairlane’s styling – essentially the most overtly American-looking status Ford for the reason that P6 LTD – the TL50 was priced instantly towards the Grange, its $77,000 record value solely undercutting the HSV by $1500. The HSV, nevertheless, had an additional 50kW of energy and 38Nm of torque plus a barely longer characteristic record.
Though the TL50 formally remained on tariffs into 2001, simply 58 have been made out of a complete of 841 FTEs. Ford would provide vaguely sporty G8 and G220 variations of its BA however there would by no means be a Fairlane or LTD-based mannequin within the Ford Efficiency Automobiles line.
We’ll have a look at 5 extra Fords in Half II.
With Ford’s lengthy historical past in Australia, we’ve needed to depart some automobiles on the chopping room flooring. These embrace, however are usually not restricted to, fashions just like the Corsair, EB Falcon SS, Laser SR2 and Maverick Brock.
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