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Ford Falcon

The Ford Falcon is a large car produced by Ford in Australia, and is one of its most popular models. It is also popular in neigbhbouring New Zealand, where it was once assembled locally, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

British company Tickford, which also does work for Aston Martin, now also owned by Ford. The Fairlane and LTD models, which are popular as government cars on both sides of the Tasman, use a longer wheelbase. These are also converted for use at funerals, as hearses. A new Falcon-based off-road model, called the Territory, is due for release in 2004.

The first Falcon was introduced in the 1950s, and was essentially a right hand drive version of the US model of that name. Ford Australia needed a model that was much larger than British models, such as the Ford Zephyr, which were not always suitable for local requirements. The Zephyr was later dropped in the 1960s. The Falcon, Fairmont, LTD and Fairlane names were all once used by Ford in the US, but have long since been dropped.

The Falcon, while popular, was outsold by GM Holden's Kingswood until 1978, when Holden decided to replace the Kingswood with a smaller model sourced from Opel in Europe called the Commodore. Ford's new model Falcon, introduced in 1979, bore some styling resemblances to the European Ford Granada, but was somewhat larger, and outsold the Commodore.

The EA Falcon, introduced in 1988, similarly bore a passing resemblance to the European Ford Scorpio, but under the skin, remained entirely Australian. At this time, Holden had brought out the VN Commodore, which while based on the European Opel Omega, was much larger than its predecessor. The AU model was introduced in 1998, but was panned by the motoring press, and faced an uphill battle against the new Holden VT Commodore.

However, Ford Australia has fought back with new versions of the Falcon, which is a unique design for a unique market. Attempts to sell the US Ford Taurus in Australia and New Zealand as a possible future replacement for the Falcon proved unsuccessful. Since the dropping of the Scorpio, the largest model available from Ford in Europe is now the Mondeo, which proved unpopular in Australia, even competing in the same medium-sized segment of the market as it does in Europe.

Falcon exports have traditionally been confined to neighbouring countries. While Holden now produces its Commodore in left hand drive for export to the Middle East and Brazil, the only export market for the Falcon outside the region has been South Africa since 1996, after an absence of nearly twenty years. Some Fairlanes and LTDs, converted into limousines and hearses, are imported into the UK by Coleman Milne, which used to convert Granadass and Scorpioss for use at funerals. A version of the original US-based Falcon was also bulit in Argentina until the early 1990s.

Ford Falcons have been raced in Australia's premier touring car racing categories for many years. In the late 1960's, where the Bathurst enduro was raced in production cars, a series of high-performance Falcon variants were built, the GT and later the GTHO. The GTHO Phase III, built in 1971, is the most famous of these, and was at the time the fastest sedan in the world. Government pressure and the fuel crisis curtailed the development of these cars, until the Tickford Fords of the 1990s. The GT's, and particularly the Phase III, are valuable collector's cars.