A Ford ability crisis

Henry Ford was born on the outskirts of Rockhampton in 1922. In 1925, he established Ford Australia, and subsequently travelled back in time to found the Ford Motor Company in the USA sometime prior. The upshot of all this, is that the bogan knows there is no car company more Australian than Ford, because Holden is owned by General Motors, and Ford is not.

Henry Ford was in his 90s by the time he downed tools and unveiled the Ford Falcon in 1960. The car induced rapturous tremors in the ancestral bogan population, with ancient bogans unanimously declaring that Australia was better at cars than anyone, anywhere, ever.

The introduction of the profoundly un-Australian Nissan Skyline R32 to the Bathurst 1000 race in 1990 was unremarkable, with the car suffering mechanical problems and losing to an SS Commodore. In the same way that the shell middens of indigenous Australians have gained significance despite being little more than a mound of food debris, Mount Panorama is believed to be comprised primarily of empty beer cans and pie wrappers, fused together by decades of bogan urine and saliva. Anyway, the Nissan Skyline dominated Bathurst in 1991 and 1992, which the bogan refused to accept, because Australian cars are the best in the world.

To restore balance to the bogans elaborate web of contradictions, delusions, and half-truths, a bogan chorus of nasal yowling demanded that the Skyline, and other un-Australian cars, should not be allowed to race against the Falcon and the Commodore, the two fastest and bestest cars in the world. The Skyline’s driver was booed by bogans on the podium, and Commodores and Falcons have raced exclusively against each other ever since. As a result, the bogan has spent the last 20 years with convenient evidence of Australia’s superiority.

But somewhere along the way, it’s all started to go wrong for Ford and its Falcon. As the traditional bogan morphed into the modern bogan over the past two decades, its aspirations started to extend beyond the humble v6 and v8s being produced in Geelong. The bogan could acquire finance and purchase a European car, and celebrities probably drive European cars. Canberra fat cats lifted import tariffs and further incentivised this behaviour. Summer Nats was formed in protest (a kind of Mt Panorama in Canberra) and staved off the inevitable for a while but then there was the issue of petrol prices, which the bogan knows is a conspiracy orchestrated by Arabs against the world’s greatest cars.

The long wheel base Ford Fairlane was scrapped in 2007, with Ford citing a lack of sales, and the Fairmont badge was shelved the following year, after a 43 year run. By 2010, annual Falcon sales had fallen to less than half their 2004 levels, with the company putting on a brave face despite accelerating bogan desertion. Sales in the first five months of 2011 have been even worse – falling by 45% on the already poor 2010 results.

So Ford Australia’s execs sat down to figure out what to do about the bogan revolution. Scrapping the model was the first option discussed, which would please the un-Australian parent company immensely. But the parent company doesn’t appreciate that dropping the Falcon for a similar vehicle from the “One Ford” global platform would not only jeopardise results at the bogan beer can midden in rural NSW, it would jeopardise Ford’s access to the bogan’s wallet indefinitely. The preferred alternative involved repositioning the Falcon brand, with an “EcoBoost” 4 cylinder engine model likely to sorely test the bogan’s need to purchase maxtreme vehicles. An endorsement from Carbon Cate and Carbon Caton will be crucial.

Sadly, however, while a repositioning of the Falcon may help in the model’s battle against the Commodore, it will be of little long term use in a product segment that has been increasingly overlooked by the bogan. Corporate austerity and public transport funding are the two other major threats to the Falcon’s future, due to its heavy reliance on fleet and taxi sales. With the US economy looking vulnerable all over again in mid-2011, Ford America may have little patience for any loss-making, low synergy cultural undertakings in Australia that are selling fewer than 1,500 cars a month.

So, the proverbial mag is on the other wheel, in the ball is in the bogan’s garage as it were. For all of its boisterous nationalist rhetoric, will it put its money where its mouth is and support the Falcon brand? Or will it continue to be lured by the performance and value of un-Australian cars, and then furiously look for scapegoats when economics eventually dictates that the Falcon has run its race?

We at Maxtreme Consulting predict a dire future for the Falcon. Centuries from now, archaeologists in the Bathurst area will be puzzled by the layer of crocodile tears melding the imported beer cans together from the one-team car race of 2014.

Comments

  1. The managers of Ford should look to the past and take inspiration from the founder. Grasp the metal, use some inspiration and innovation. Don’t ask the bogan what he wants, deliver them the the future. Nothing else will do.

    As the original Henry Ford in 1924 said to the the marketing people of the time and focus groups (Julia take note), “If I had of asked the bogan what they wanted, they would have said, A faster horse”

    Perhapsthe last 20 years is a reflection

  2. Enjoyed the read.
    The v8 Australain super car seriies has realised this and has moved the series to a single vehicle class. (starting next year ??) so that any manufacturer can put a set of panels on and say its their car running around.

    BTW the current nissan gtr as a road going venture has a higher top speed then the 5x more expensisve non road registerable v8 bogan supercar … just needs its suspension a little titer for the race comparison.

    I’m fairly happy we didn’t by the Taurus in the late 90’s

    bring back the P76

  3. This is so inaccurate that it is embarrassing.
    Everyone knows that Holden was founded by Brocky.

  4. sigh… the 80’s family falcon (sandstone) with 2 kids and a dog and the wonderful sound of the worn tappets.

    • The Hundredth Idiot

      …well perhaps for you, but we had the Fairlane.
      (lime green with beige vinyl roof and the squeeky front left ball joint)

  5. Ah yes! The ancient Bogan, how many of them wet themselves when the Ford GTHO burnt rubber at the Hardy Ferodo 500. Then creamed themselves years later over the Ford Cobra.

    Many a bogan-kidddy had their posters of their favourite racing Ford with Alan Moffat standing next to it (me included).

    Ah… The memories.

    Anyone here had one of those AFX Racing car sets?

  6. When I imported my Caterham Seven (series 3) into Australia in 1991, it caused a great stir. No-one had actually realized that there were cars out there capable of going around corners. From what I’ve seen of the Boganmobile, it’s phenomenal horsepower is only matched by it’s phenomenal capacity to carry straight on at the nearest corner…

    • Well, perhaps I’m being a little unfair. Boganmobile suspensions & tyres have come a long way since then. The problem is, taking a corner does require a certain degree of finesse, a quality not usually found in the driver…

      • Actually, you capture the ZB rather nicely. Cornering in that was like a hovercraft, a kind of stiff, tilting platform that threatened to pour over footpath at any moment…

  7. This article was so tl;dr. You needed a maxtreme (but still readable) graph explaining how Ford sales fell 45% in 2011 to date.

    Imagine Alan Kohler on the ABC news is he didn’t have graphs. “Greek 10-year bond yields went like this today” he said as he traced his finger like Mr Squiggle heavenwards. The average bogan doesn’t have that much of an attention span, they’d change channels before the sport.

  8. I still shake my head thinking about my first car – an XF Falcon.

    What a POS. I’m told that Ford have picked up their game since then, but I haven’t noticed.

    But I am an elitist Euro/UK car snob by default.

    • The Audi being chased by 3 angry Peugeots for 24 hours at Le Mans last weekend would have tickled your fancy then? 😉

      3.7L (Turbo) Diesels doing over 200mph producing 350kw+!

    • My first car was an XF too. I bought it in 1996 for $900 & spent $900 converting it to LPG. It then lasted another 8 years. It was the cheapest car ever. I even used to fix it myself – it was like putting lego together. But no matter what I did, I couldn’t get the steering wheel to sit straight.

      Memories…

    • Rota, sorry diesels don’t do it for me. And neither do Audi’s – although the A5 Coupe is pretty (but common). I’m a BMW fan, but only of their motorbikes (I’m on my fourth and fifth) the cars leave me cold – except the Z4 (which is Q Continuum’s favourite). Porsche. Aston. Lotus. Nothing else!

      Leith – me too, the steering never stayed on-line. And the gearbox frequently came apart. And sometimes it only fired on five cylinders. Brakes worked sometimes too. Masterful Strayan engineering.

      H&H – I am disappoint.

      • Porsche!, Aston!, Lotus!, z4! Why look like a pompus geek on the road Prince (The)? Here is how you can overcome your disappointment.

        Get yourself something like HnH, fit a limited slip diff, independent suspension, sway bars, bore the pistons out a (just) little larger, twin turbo (a large and small one), a larger petrol tank. If the 351 ZB is a bit too low for you get a Mustang (or even a Trans-Am) and to the same.

        Z4 penis on wheels…ha! Get an iron pole on wheels, and tune it to sound like a purrrring Lion.

  9. I cannot believe how often the incorrect statement “bogans ban Nissan” is being repeated. Just because this misconception is repeated often does not make it true. Clearly people who do not follow motorsport do not understand the events of the early 1990s. Europe had abandoned the Group A formula and were moving in the direction of 2 litre based categories. This left CAMS with the difficult decision of what to do with the local touring cars. Do they continue with the Group A format in isolation or choose a new direction? There was a period after the end of Group A rules where two groups existed – the 5L brigade and the 2L brigade. These categories made all group A cars (not just the Nissan Skyline GT-R) redundant as they didn’t fit into either of the new categories. Therefore Nissan wasn’t banned from competing and beating Holden and Ford. Australia had abandoned the Group A rules along with the remainder of the motorsport world. Please conduct some reseach before making any further misleading posts.

    • Simon - Glasser at Arms, Constant source of Randomness

      Robert, you pick this up and not Henry Ford being born out of Rockhampton?!

      • I think Henry’s birthplace was the obvious satire, but the piece about the racing regs is simply an old, uninformed wives tale. One, as a hardcore fan of ALL racing, I am somewhat sick of hearing repeated ad nauseum. ( Spewing secondhand dribble is one of the bogans more defining features, so I’m disappointed to see it in print here) However, the writing is clearly on the wall for the falcon. With no export program, it will surely die at the end of its current model platform.

  10. Oh, come on…”the price of everything and the value of nothing”…wonderful picture.

  11. I’m not sure why Ford is held up as being more “Australian” than Holden. You can’t get any more Aussie than a Kingswood (with a premier front end). And surely the Commodore is more Australian than a Falcon….

    You don’t need to look any further than the Sandman to see how interwoven Holden is with the Australian way of life.

    • WOuldn’t it depend on how you measure a car’s “Australianness”

      In terms of number of employees across the country, Toyota and Holden are about equal, IIRC.

      In terms of design, the Commodore and Falcon would be similar, surely, due them both being penned here in Australia (I assume, as they’re not built anywhere else).

      In terms of components… I don’t know.

      Either way, nationality as a virtue is a flawed concept.

    • I have an XE with 351 cubes of maxtremity so I am biased.

      The first 1979 Vb Crummy dore was based on the European “Opel Rekord”. It was a sales flop because Bogan’s did not want smaller cars with pissant red sixes cut down to pissant 4 cyls (startfires?).

      The 1979 XD and possibly the XE derivative was awarded an Australian design award for, among other things, its innovative use of plastic bumpers. Proof of Ford’s maxtremity was the 351.

      In the classic Aussie movie TWO HANDS starring “our” Heath Ledger, all the bad guys drive fords. This also proves Ford owners propensity for glassings.

      Ergo: Ford is more Aussie. This is an indisputable fact.

      /thumps chest

      • If you are going to look at movies to determine which cars are more Aussie then really you need to look at Mad Max.

        From memory Max starts off driving a Holden panel van (family car). His “pursuit” car is a Falcon, however – nightrider in perhaps the “coolest” car in Mad Max is the tough and supremely cool Monaro. Surely the most masculine car to hit Australia… You can see why Holden re-released it….

        I have to say the use of plastic bumpers is pretty cool though.

        • NERFBARS (Tm)

          All SUV type vehicles should be fitted with nerf type rear/under bumpers.

          Reversing Cameras are ineffective because you have to actually check the in-dash screen. This interferes with makeup application and checking texts while reversing.

          Backing over the kids needs a nanny-state solution rather than a parental responsibility solution.

        • Add “running on empty” & “running from the gun” to that list Karlos….
          Both starring wicked XY GTHOs….just awesome! 😛

  12. “As the traditional bogan morphed into the modern bogan over the past two decades, its aspirations started to extend beyond the humble v6 and v8s being produced in Geelong. The bogan could acquire finance and purchase a European car, and celebrities probably drive European cars.”

    Probably by using the equity in their McMansion!

    BTW, The Age today has a nice little diversion today – What are the worst Holdens?
    http://theage.drive.com.au/motor-news/what-are-the-worst-holdens-20110616-1g4e3.html

  13. Just a little nitpick first off, Ford has had an inline six in the Falcon for over 20 years not a V6.

    As a car buff who does love the current crop of Falcons (the G6E Turbo is faster than any Euro car under $135k), the blame for the failure of the Falcon should be placed squarely at Ford Australia’s marketing department.

    While the Commodore has remained a good seller in spite of the onslaught of Euro cars and the four wheel drive craze the Falcon has suffered. To me this is because the Commodore is identified as “Astrayan” while the Falcon is viewed by the majority of bogans as something that the Americans sell here.

    The average bogan does make the distinction that Holden is actually just the Australian arm of an American company and not a solely Astrayan owned and operated company.

    Ford has not managed to set themselves apart from their American owners like Holden mostly because Ford is a universal brand unlike Holden which is more or less only sold in Australian.

    Ford has had to rely on making good cars like the BA Falcon in order to make money while Holden can rely on the masses of bogans continuing to buy the Commodore because in the bogans mind its the only truly Astrayan car.

    From an economic perspective the situation of the Commodore and Falcon perfectly illustrates how if you can integrate a car or any given product into the culture of a nation then it will continue to sell irrespective of how bad the product actually is.

    While the Commodore will survive as both a car and a part of bogan culture, the Falcon will die a sad lonely death because Ford was unable to succeed where Holden did in making the Falcon a key part of bogan culture.

    • I’m going to nitpick your nitpick, and remind you that the straight 6 has been in the Falcon since the beginning – 1960.

  14. Wrote my first Pop song in 1966, titled ‘Off to see my bird in my ’34 Fird, my ’34 Fird’. I penned it in Shaw’s shorthand that I had discovered while studying his play, Adrocles & the Lion. Unfortunately my class mates also knew the shorthand & a promising career was nipped in the bud by maxxsteeme embarrassment.
    Still can’t understand why GMH did not milk Simply Red’s ‘Holden back the years’. Still in my shower song repertoire, lyrics vary according to mood!

  15. Tall poppy syndrome alive and well..

    Just another chance for the media to stick the boot in “when the man is down”..

    FG owns VE -especialy with the 5.0 supercharged coyote.. just a tune and near on 400RWKW’s.. high 11’s..
    Lets see the euro snobs/downsizers beat that!..
    Marketing is all that is letting ford down.. and discontinuing models..

    • The Hundredth Idiot

      nothwithstanding that the FG is plug ugly sitting next to a VE.
      let’s be honest, you’d be lucky to find 100 drivers in this country who could wring the best out of the trickest of Falcons or Commodores, let alone something above the lease limit…
      This is more about how it looks on the driveway of the McMansion or throbbing thru the carpark at Westfield trying to find a space closer to the doors than any actual performance. kW numbers are just for shiny badges and spruiking in pissing contests to this market.

  16. ….Yes, because so many bogans can afford to buy new cars. Most bogans drive around in second hand cars that are at least 10 years old, they contributute 0% to any new car sales. Families & fleets make up the bigger part of sedan and wagon sales.
    If anyone here actually did some form of research they would understand the Falcon lineup lacks a number options that did exisit when sales were good, there is no wagon, no XR8, waiting for the new LPG, No Falcon V8 model (only FPV), and an ecoboost 4 cylinder on the way not until next year.
    If you also understood a few other facts, the Ford Falcon & Holden Commodore sedans sell almost the same figures, and the Falcon sedan has actually sold more than the Commodore a few months.
    In summary, new car sales DO NOT = BOGANS!!!

    • Incorrect. My car is five years old. Every bogan I know bags me for having a vintage vehicle.

      Cashed up bogans are keeping the car sales in Oz afloat. Nobody else would be that stupid to spend big dollars on a new ride when tough times are coming.

    • The Falcon has not outsold the Commodore in quite a while. In May this year the Commodore sold 3,504 cars, while the Falcon sold a paltry 1,331.

      The really telling thing about the sales figures is how badly the still relatively new “Holden Cruze” is thumping the much better Ford Focus in sales. Once again its how well Holden’s marketing machine works in comparison to Ford’s. Holden just goes on about being Australian while Ford talks about how good its cars are.

      But I digress, you are correct that killing off the wagon and the XR8 was a horrible mistake. In that alone they have probably killed at least 10,000 sales a year and those customers have now gone elsewhere. The Commodore will have a massive influx of fleet buyers when their current Falcon wagons need to be replaced and they will now be forced to buy Holden if they want a big relatively cheap wagon.

      If one looks at the current sales figures one will notice that the “bogan” is still by far the driving force behind new car sales. For example the Holden Cruze beloved by bogans for its Holden badge and fuel effeciency (finally a fuel effecient Holden the bogan says) is winning the battle for the small car sector.

      Car sales figure http://www.caradvice.com.au/121809/new-vehicle-sales-figures-may-2011/