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Ford Falcon Celebrates 45th Birthday

By Motoring Channel Staff - 28/6/2005

Ford Falcon Celebrates 45th Birthday
Old and new Ford Falcons celebrate 45 years

Ford Falcon Celebrates 45th Birthday
The Ford Cobra - here's hoping for
a comeback, a la the Modern Monaro

Two Falcons - seven generations and 45 years apart - gathered near the birthplace of Ford Australia today to mark the 45th anniversary of the legendary Australian family car.

On June 28, 1960, the first Australian-built XK Falcon rolled off the production line at Broadmeadows, launching the longest continuous model line in Australian motoring history.

Since then, Australians have bought more than 3 million Falcons, making the iconic brand the biggest selling in the history of Australian motoring.

Ford Australia President Tom Gorman said the Falcon had a unique place in Australia's social history:

"Over the years, the Falcon has established itself as a brand name synonymous with Australian innovation in design and engineering," he said.

"It has spearheaded the charge by the Australian motoring industry to become a world class player with a car featuring the latest in engineering technology, and personifying the changes in styling tastes of Australians over more than four decades.

"In the sixties, the Falcon was all chrome and white wall tyres, while in the seventies we had burnt orange soft top Falcon coupes to go with our flares and platform shoes.

"Today, the BA MkII Falcon reflects Australia's growing sophistication in the world of the 21st century."

The Falcon has been part of Australian life longer than colour television, decimal currency, maternity leave, the jumbo jet, the pill, Four Corners and even the Opera House. During its lifetime, the Falcon has seen ten prime ministers, five popes, 10 Olympic Games and two national anthems.

The BA Falcon is the 21st model designation for the Falcon. It is estimated that Australian Falcons have collectively covered more than 450 billion kilometres since they first hit the road in 1960.

This next table lists world events that occurred during the Falcon's 45-year tenure as an iconic Australian automobile:

XK (1960-62)

National Service ends. Jack Brabham wins F1 World Championship for second time. D.H. Lawrence's "The Trial of Lady Chatterley's Lover" banned.

XL (1962-63)

Aborigines in Queensland, NT and WA get the vote. Rod Laver wins Grand Slam. "The Twist" dance craze takes off.

XM (1964-1965)

Beatlemania hits Australia. Donald Campbell sets a new world land speed record. Voyager sinks, 82 dead.

XP (1965-1966)

Government brings back conscription. Decimal currency is introduced. Australia sends 800 troops to Vietnam.

XR (1966-68)

Australian involvement in the Vietnam War escalates. Ronald Ryan hanged. Harold Holt disappears, feared drowned.

XT (1968-69)

NSW introduces the breathalyser. Australia's first heart transplant. Jo Bjelke-Petersen becomes Queensland Premier.

XW (1969-70)

John Gorton re-elected. More than 200,000 march in protest against the Vietnam War.

XY (1970-72)

Australian troops ordered home from Vietnam. Neville Bonner becomes first Aboriginal MP. Qantas launches Boeing 747.

XA (1972-73)

Gough Whitlam elected. Shane Gould wins three gold medals in Munich. Cleo is launched with male nude centrefold.

XB (1973-76)

Women secure equal pay. Voting age drops from 21 to 18. Opera House opens. Cyclone Tracey hits Darwin. FM radio and colour TV launched. Whitlam sacked.

XC (1976-79)

Cigarette ads banned. ABBA arrives. Democrat Party launched. World Series Cricket begins. Queensland bans public protests. Melbourne's West Gate Bridge opens.

XD (1979-82)

Australia's first uranium mine opened. Lotto launched. First test-tube Australian born. Azaria Chamberlain goes missing.

XE (1982-84)

Random breath-testing introduced in NSW. Chamberlains found guilty of murdering Azaria. Ash Wednesday bushfires.

XF (1984-88)

Unleaded petrol launched. BLF deregistered. Crocodile Dundee released. Stock market crashes.

EA (1988-91)

Darling Harbour opens. Chamberlains acquitted. Pilots' dispute. Earthquake hits Newcastle. Australian troops to Iraq.

EB (1991-1993)

Labor drops Hawke for Keating. Sydney Harbour Tunnel opens. Compass Airlines collapses.

ED (1993-1994)

Sydney wins bid to host 2000 Olympic Games. Bushfires wreak havoc in Sydney. Fred Hollows dies.

EF (1994-1996)

Backpacker murderer Ivan Milat on trial. Spanish Court refuses to deport Christopher Skase. Allan Border retires.

EL (1996-1998)

Port Arthur Massacre. Pat Rafter wins US Open. Dollar sinks to record low. One Nation outpolls Liberal Party in Qld.

AU (1998-2002)

INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence dies. Australia votes "No" to a Republic. GST introduced. Cathy Freeman opens Sydney Olympics.

BA (2002-2005)

John Howard becomes second longest serving PM. Australian troops take part in Iraqi War. Governor General Peter Hollingsworth resigns. Adelaide-Darwin rail link completed. Lleyton Hewitt wins Wimbledon.

Ford Falcon History

The initial decision to launch an Australian-built Ford was made in 1955, when it was decided that Ford Australia would build the Zephyr locally from the ground up, rather than simply assemble kits that arrived by ship from Dagenham in the United Kingdom.

But in 1958, during a trip to the United States to view the Zephyr that was being redesigned for Australia, Ford Australia Managing Director Charles Smith, decided that the car was not right for the local market.

He was then shown a mock-up of the Falcon that was being designed for the Canadian and American markets and decided that it was the car for Australia.

The Falcon made its debut with the XK in September 1960. At the time it was described as a 'compact', as it was smaller than the popular family cars of the period. The car and its successor, the XL, were based on an American design, with some minor modifications for Australian conditions.

With the launch of the XM in 1964, the Falcon had more serious claims to being a car designed and engineered by Australians for Australian conditions.

Ford Falcon Celebrates 45th Birthday
The 1970 XY Falcon GT, pumped with a 351ci V8

Ford Falcon Celebrates 45th Birthday
The 1980s Falcon XD roughing it a little

Ford Falcon Celebrates 45th Birthday
A 1992 EB II Falcon GT, complete with sunroof

Changes were made to the front and rear suspension, the braking system, clutch, rear axle, engine mounts and exhaust - all as a result of extensive research on the open road, the track and the dirt.

Ford Australia management went one step further with the launch of the XP Falcon in 1965. In an attempt to convince local fleet buyers of the robustness and durability of the Falcon, Deputy Managing Director Bill Bourke conceived the XP Durability Run.

The bold scheme involved pushing five standard Falcons to the limit around the demanding You Yangs Proving Ground driven by Australia’s top race and rally drivers. The goal was to clock 70,000 miles at an average speed per car of 70 miles per hour. Some of the five cars rolled, but after 8 ½ days driven at the limit, the five cars averaged a speed of 71.3 miles per hour.

That same year, the Falcon was named Wheels Car of the Year.

The following year, the bigger, more powerful XR Falcon was launched with an entirely new shape. The new model incorporated more Australian design input than previous models and featured a V8 engine for the first time. The XR Falcon also was the first model to carry the legendary GT badge.

The XT Falcon saw more powerful V8s, a synchromesh gearbox, dual circuit brakes and a choice of two automatic transmissions. It was followed by the XW and XY, remarkable for the eminently collectable GTHO Phase II and III.

In 1971, with the launch of the XA, the Falcon became a uniquely Australian car. There was no longer a US equivalent, the car was designed specifically for the local market.

Three years earlier, local Ford designers traveled to the US and spent most of the summer of 1968 working on the Falcon clay model. The design impressed Detroit, which soon after gave the go-ahead for a design centre at Broadmeadows, Victoria.

With the XB and XC came four-wheel disc brakes, four-barrel carburettors and an all-time classic Falcon, the Cobra. The XC also brought a famous 1-2 victory for Allan Moffat and Colin Bond at Bathurst in 1977.

The XD Falcon was the first to be designed in Australia from a clean piece of paper. Efficiency, interior space and weight reduction were the key elements of the new design. The car also featured a number of innovations, including a plastic fuel tank and plastic bumpers. Bucket seats were optional.

The following model, the XE, marked the introduction of electronic fuel injection and a Watts link coil-sprung rear-end. The car took Ford to number one in the market in 1982.

The XF was notable for the introduction of Ford's engine management system, EEC-IV, which managed the spark timing and air-fuel mix of the engine more efficiently.

A new shape for Falcon came with the EA, which also boasted an all-new front suspension and geometry. The new suspension was more durable than previous systems. Other advances included a four-speed automatic transmission, the high-security Tibbe locking system and a more fuel-efficient engine.

The EB and subsequent EB II offered handling improvements, the return of the V8 and ABS brakes for the first time on a mainstream Australian sedan. Security also was enhanced with the introduction of Smartlock.

The final facelift for the EA shape came with the ED, which offered more modern exterior colours, better side-impact crash protection and a host of under-the-bonnet changes to continue the refinement of the car's handling.

August 1994 saw a new shape and an Australian Design Award for the EF Falcon in recognition of several engineering advances. The modified engine was smoother running, with improved torque and power and a new EEC-V engine management system developed through Formula One racing. A standard airbag, better ride and handling and significant safety advances completed the upgrade. The car also featured the world's first airbag-compatible bull-bar.

The $40 million EL program brought further ride and handling improvements, latest generation ABS and an improved steering feel.

The $700 million AU Falcon saw the introduction of Computer Aided Design and Engineering, allowing for significant advances in chassis stiffness, aerodynamics and directional stability.

The AU program also saw the debut of a sophisticated double wishbone independent rear suspension and variable cam timing on prestige models. The AU was also the first car in its class to offer air-conditioning and automatic transmission as standard features.

The AUII and AUIII continued the Falcon tradition of innovation and value for money, featuring a standard passenger airbag, standard CD player, standard 16-inch wheels and 'Scheduled Servicing' to 60,000km included in the cost of the car.

In 2002 Ford launched the all-new BA Falcon with a new DOHC 4.0-litre engine, Sequential Sports Shift automatic transmission, a radical new Control Blade IRS and sleek new styling inside and out.

With a potent turbocharged version and DOHC V8 version also in the mix, the BA quickly won critical and sales acclaim, spearheading a sales revival by Ford and securing many of the major motoring awards including the Australia's Best Cars 'Best Family Car' title and the highly coveted Wheels COTY.

The latest MkII version was launched in 2004, adding numerous customer focused features including a Tremec six-speed manual transmission for the high performance XR range and cruise control across the sedan range.


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