Ford Australia has rolled out the last of the Falcon utes, the first step in closing its 90-year history of car production across the Tasman.
Assemblers at the Broadmeadows plant in Melbourne screwed together the final model, a white XR6, at around 4.45pm on Friday.
It will go into the company’s historical fleet along with the final Falcon sedan and Territory SUV. All three are built on the same production line.
Ford excluded media coverage from the last ute’s historic moment because it wanted production line workers to commemorate the occasion in private.
“We have mixed emotions today because we realise how deeply Ford’s utes are embedded in Australian culture,” said Ford Australia boss Graeme Whickman, a former Ford NZ marketing executive.
“We thank our loyal customers and the Ford team, with a special thanks to our manufacturing employees, for making the Falcon ute a local legend and one of the longest-running vehicles in the world.”
The Falcon ute’s farewell was especially poignant, as it signalled the beginning of the end of the homegrown Australian car industry. The last Falcon sedan is due to be waved away in Melbourne on October 7. The Territory will be axed around the same time.
The Falcon ute’s long-time rival, the Holden ute, will no longer be built once Holden closes its production plants in South Australia later next year.
The Ford ute story actually began with a concept in 1934, based on the Ford Coupe. The Falcon ute dates back to the first XK derivative in 1961 and includes seven generations and almost 470,000 vehicles.
1961: Ford starts production of the Falcon ute, based on the sedan released in 1960. A panel van version was also built. Both went on sale in Australia in May 1961. The Falcon ute was built at both the Melbourne and Brisbane plants and 32,695 were made from February 1961 to August 1966 across the XK, XL, XM and XP models.
1966: The second generation Falcon ute goes into production in September of that year. It would carry the XR, XT, XW and XY model designations and 48,027 would be built until October 1972. In November 1972 Ford built a 4WD version of the Falcon based on the XY.
1972: In June 1972 the third-generation ute appeared. The models were the XA, XB and XC; 48,144 would be built.
1978: In April 1978 the last Falcon ute is built in Brisbane and Ford shifted all production to Melbourne.
1979: In May 1979 the fourth generation Falcon begins with the XD ute. In the end, 84,802 were made across the XD, XE, XF models until March 1993.
1992: The fifth generation Falcon ute begins production in December 1992 and goes on sale in April 1993 as the Falcon Longreach. In the end, 45,533 were made across the XG and XH models until May 1999.
1997: In October 1997 the V8 returns to the Falcon ute after a 15-year absence when a limited number of V8s were built ahead of the next generation due in 2000.
2000: The sixth generation ute is based on the AU model; 155,752 made until April 2008 across the AU, BA and BF models.
2008: The seventh generation Falcon ute went into production in February 2008. It was a restyled version of the previous generation Falcon ute, with more modern looks. In the end, 52,737 would be built until July 2016 across the FG and FG-X models.