A Legacy Lost? (2000-2017) | Shannons End of An Era | Part 4
Ford misreads the market with its all-new AU Falcon, whilst Holden dominates the large car segment with the VT Commodore and successive model updates. It’s not until the Falcon BA and BF that Ford is able to get back on the shopping-list, but it’s the Ford Territory SUV that landed the company its biggest winner in years - binging buyers back to Ford showrooms.
Under a revitalized company leadership that had Holden and ‘performance’ firmly in sight, Ford launches a new race team and performance road car division – Ford Performance Vehicles.
The growth of European prestige brands have cemented themselves down-under and Aussie families become increasingly more likely to drive an Audi A4 than a locally made equivalent.
With new immigration, the attraction to locally made cars continues to reduce, we see a return of the Ford GT, the Holden Monaro heads to the US as a Pontiac GTO as lower priced Korean cars take a grip at the lower end of the car market.
Amongst this, the Mitsubishi Magna finally fades into the sunset.
Then, billed as the Billion Dollar Baby, Holden plays its largest ever roll of the dice, with the Commodore VE in 2006. The VE Commodore would be the first all Australian designed and made car by Holden.......ever!. It’s sales numbers prove the VE to be the most successful Commodore, as an aggressive LHD export program has the VE wrapped in a Pontiac suit and then, a Chevrolet bow-tie, bound for the US and Middle East.
Despite some clever engine innovation and technology from Ford such as LPG and 4 cylinder turbos, it’s a little too late for the Ford Falcon. Ford had done such a good job over the years of educating Australian car buyers around the large and powerful Falcon, that a 4 cylinder Falcon just didn’t end up on the shopping list. A situation not helped by a lack of marketing or government sales. In fact, Ford sold more of it’s 4 cylinder Falcons to itself than anyone else.
The rise of the user-chooser fleet buyer and the decline of Australian fleet sales becomes the new norm, as the Australian Government decides to drop their ‘Buy Australian’ vehicle policy in favour of cheaper and imported vehicles, from Korea or increasingly from Thailand.
As Holden launch their final VF Commodore and Ford their FG-X Falcon, it’s Toyota who continue with their local Camry, including Hybrid technology as the foundation of their successful export program.
Yet the writing is on the wall for Aussie car-makers as Government policy to offer ever dwindling industry subsidies is made loud and clear!
Ford are the first to announce they will stage a phased shutdown of their Australian manufacturing. But it’s a case of as one falls down, they all take a tumble and Toyota and ultimately Holden make the same announcements to withdraw from local manufacturing. These decisions effectively end more than 90 years of Australian automotive mass-production, that ultimately claim up to 50,000 jobs; both directly on the production line and indirectly through hundreds of suppliers large and small.
Watch as the last cars ever to be produced in Australia, roll off the production lines.
A moving visual montage of some of the most memorable cars made by Australian workers unfolds, as we pay tribute to the generations of passion, commitment, home-grown ingenuity, improvisation and innovation; unique and irreplaceable skills which, for almost a century, made Australia one of only a handful of countries in the world that could design and build its own cars.
And as the sun sets on this celebration of Aussie motoring history, Shane Jacobson shares his most personal reflections amongst some of the most iconic and best preserved examples of Australian made cars from the 1925 Model T through to the last Holden VF and Ford FG-X Sprint. His emotional closing of the chapter on the wonderful story of Aussie innovation, the cars and the people who shaped our motoring history, will stand forever as a Legacy.
Shannons End of Era. Celebrating Aussie Motoring History.