The day Falcon died

At 9:36am on Friday, October 7, after 91 years of building cars in Australia, Ford rolled the last ever Falcon off the Broadmeadows production line

BARRY PARK

Falcon, Australia’s longest-living automotive nameplate, is no more.

The 3,005,880th Ford Falcon to roll off the Broadmeadows production line, 56 years and seven generations after the first, officially ended the carmaker’s 91-year run of building vehicles in Australia.

The Kinetic blue XR6 was a fitting model to send off the Falcon, the 4.0-litre Barra six having been cast in nearby Geelong.

Under its carpets are the signatures of the men and women who built it, though Ford’s decision to not apply a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) means it can never be sold or registered. The car will become a museum piece.

The penultimate car down Broadmeadows’ production line was a Ford Territory, Australia’s first and only SUV, and the only vehicle of its kind to win Wheels Car of the Year.

Wheels was there on the final day, arriving at 6am on a windswept morning under heavy skies. The last shift started just before daybreak, with the final Falcon slated to complete its journey at 9.30am.

As the 600 workers shuffled in, the security guard greeted them with an unexpectedly cheery, “Last day, brother!”

The employees’ carpark, built to accommodate thousands of plant workers during Falcon’s halcyon days of market dominance in the 1970s and ’80s, was more like a ghost town.

Inside, the last sedan was on time, unlike the final ute that came off the same line in July.

Shortly after 9.30am, text messages from inside reached the media, confirming the end of an era.

Then trim-line worker Nick Doria walked out, proudly carryng a Ford flag (above).

“There are a lot of tears in there,” 19-year Ford veteran Doria told the assembled media. “A lot of guys are going to wake up on Monday morning and have nothing to do.”

The Ford workers weren’t alone on their last day. Hundreds of enthusiasts arrived to pay respects to the Falcon and its makers, posing for photos with their classic cars outside the site that had housed Falcon’s assembly lines since the 1960 XK.

Soon, this plant’s guts will be stripped and shipped to Taiwan.

Ben and his mate Mick had driven 500km from Mount Gambier. He had paused to take a last photo of his 1963 XK Falcon at the Broadmeadows Assembly Plant sign that will soon be taken down.

“I’ve always loved the early Falcons, the early birds, loved the brand,” he said. “[Today] it’s all about paying homage to the brand.”