Ford Falcon Celebrates 45th Birthday
By Motoring Channel Staff - 28/6/2005
Old and new Ford Falcons celebrate 45 years
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
"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:
National Service ends. Jack Brabham wins F1 World Championship
for second time. D.H. Lawrence's "The Trial of Lady
Chatterley's Lover" banned.
Aborigines in Queensland, NT and WA get the vote. Rod
Laver wins Grand Slam. "The Twist" dance craze takes
Beatlemania hits Australia. Donald Campbell sets a
new world land speed record. Voyager sinks, 82 dead.
Government brings back conscription. Decimal currency
is introduced. Australia sends 800 troops to Vietnam.
Australian involvement in the Vietnam War escalates.
Ronald Ryan hanged. Harold Holt disappears, feared drowned.
NSW introduces the breathalyser. Australia's first
heart transplant. Jo Bjelke-Petersen becomes Queensland
John Gorton re-elected. More than 200,000 march in
protest against the Vietnam War.
Australian troops ordered home from Vietnam. Neville
Bonner becomes first Aboriginal MP. Qantas launches
Gough Whitlam elected. Shane Gould wins three gold
medals in Munich. Cleo is launched with male nude centrefold.
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.
Cigarette ads banned. ABBA arrives. Democrat Party
launched. World Series Cricket begins. Queensland bans
public protests. Melbourne's West Gate Bridge opens.
Australia's first uranium mine opened. Lotto launched.
First test-tube Australian born. Azaria Chamberlain
Random breath-testing introduced in NSW. Chamberlains
found guilty of murdering Azaria. Ash Wednesday bushfires.
Unleaded petrol launched. BLF deregistered. Crocodile
Dundee released. Stock market crashes.
Darling Harbour opens. Chamberlains acquitted. Pilots'
dispute. Earthquake hits Newcastle. Australian troops
Labor drops Hawke for Keating. Sydney Harbour Tunnel
opens. Compass Airlines collapses.
Sydney wins bid to host 2000 Olympic Games. Bushfires
wreak havoc in Sydney. Fred Hollows dies.
Backpacker murderer Ivan Milat on trial. Spanish Court
refuses to deport Christopher Skase. Allan Border retires.
Port Arthur Massacre. Pat Rafter wins US Open. Dollar
sinks to record low. One Nation outpolls Liberal Party
INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence dies. Australia
votes "No" to a Republic. GST introduced. Cathy Freeman
opens Sydney Olympics.
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
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.
The 1970 XY Falcon GT, pumped with a 351ci V8
The 1980s Falcon XD roughing it a little
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 Australias 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
The $40 million EL program brought further ride and handling
improvements, latest generation ABS and an improved steering
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
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
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.