In a couple of months, Australian travellers in the UK will see the familiar shape of the Falcon ute wearing police and roadworks livery. What they will not recognise is the badge – the two-door workhorse will be called the Verte Tempest.
The first of a range of Falcons to be sold there will appear in dealerships in April or May. All will be LPG vehicles, imported under a clever arrangement that, thanks to their green credentials, has the nod from the Sir Humphreys of Whitehall.
Ford Australia, which builds LPG vehicles as a factory option, has added its blessing to the deal between Melbourne distributor James Smith and AC Cars of the UK.
Six-cylinder and V8 versions of the gas-powered Verte Tempests will be sold through a network established by AC Cars boss Alan Lubinsky.
Sporty XR6 and XR8 models are also on the program. This is particularly good news for British enthusiasts, as it will spell the return of the XR badge to the market; it last appeared on the Fiesta XR2i in 1995.
Smith told Drive that sedans would follow in June or July, and there had been encouraging interest from police, local government and business fleet operators.
''We're taking it carefully to ensure everything is done right, and to make sure we have the warranty and other back-up for the dealers,'' he said. ''But we've already completed our cold-weather testing, and we're being conservative in estimating we will sell about 300 vehicles in the next 10 months. You have to be practical; we have to get the buyers' confidence.''
Smith is keen to export an LPG six-cylinder Fairlane to appeal to limousine firms.
Smith and Lubinsky have done a parts deal which, like the Falcon deal, was foreshadowed in Drive last year. A new model AC sports car will use the Falcon six and other components.
The base XL ute will sell for the equivalent of $44,000 and the XLS for $50,000. Sedan prices will be announced closer to their launch.