The Ford Falcon ute has officially finished production. Lest we forget.
At 3pm on Friday afternoon, July 29, the last Ford Falcon utility quietly closed the tonneau on the production line as the shift ended for workers. This very last model has been purchased internally by Ford Australia and will go down in history as the last of 439,742 Falcon utes made and sold here.
The first Falcon ute, based on the XK Falcon of 1961, rolled off the same Broadmeadows production line 55 years ago. The Falcon sedan and Territory SUV will follow suit on October 7 this year, before the same weekend of the Bathurst 1000.
Media was excluded from the ceremonial last hours of the Falcon ute production, holding private send-offs with production line workers and staff. Ford Australia boss Graeme Wickman was empathetic of both employee and customer feelings around the historical day.
“We have mixed emotions today because we realise how deeply Ford’s utes are embedded in Australian culture,” he said. “We thank our loyal customers and the Ford team, with special thanks to our manufacturing employees, for making the Falcon ute a local legend and one of the longest-running vehicles in the world.”
Ford Australia have confirmed to News Corp that up to 160 of the 800-plus workers will be absorbed into engineering and design divisions within what has become the Asia Pacific Head Office for Ford at Broadmeadows. They will continue to develop the Thai-built but locally tuned Ranger pick-up/ute. All 814 workers in total, 487 in Broadmeadows and 327 in Geelong, will remain on Ford’s payroll until October 7 and cars will continue to be built until that date. The final send-off will also be a quiet event according to Wickman.
“For us, its about putting our people first,” he said. “We are going to treat our staff with dignity and respect, and that means we will be holding private events with the to recognise and honour their work over so many years across all three plants.”
Ford Australia invented the ute back in 1933 after that now famous letter was written to then-boss Hubert French by a Victorian farmer’s wife wanting to drive to church on a Sunday and take the pigs to market on the Monday. The 1934 Ford Utility coupe was born and paved the way to the pick-up that now dominates the US market.
When Holden and Toyota facilities close in 2017 Ford Australia will be the largest automotive employer Down Under.