IN a 45-year career with Ford Australia, Giorgio Torcia remembers every version of the locally built Falcon.
Mr Torcia began work at Ford's Broadmeadows plant in July 1960, a month after the first Falcon was produced.
And as the car that carries the longest-running nameplate in Australian motoring celebrated its 45th birthday yesterday, he expressed his amazement at the changes in production methods over more than four decades of local manufacturing.
``When I started there, it was all manual labour and we lifted every part of the car to put it together,'' he said.
``There were no robots, all the welding was done by hand.
``The way we build cars today is 300 per cent better than how we did it then.''
Fellow 45-year Ford worker Allan Jones began his career about the same time at Geelong, working in production control before moving into product engineering.
``Back then we didn't have computers, it was all manual labour,'' he said.
``Everything we do now is just so far advanced from the way we did things then.''
Since the first XK model rolled off the Broadmeadows production line on June 28, 1960, more than 3 million Falcons have been sold, making it the biggest-selling car in Australian automotive history.
``Over the years, the Falcon has established itself as a brand name synonymous with Australian innovation in design and engineering,'' Ford Australia president Tom Gorman said yesterday.
``It has spearheaded the charge by the Australian motoring industry to become a world-class player with a car featuring the latest in engineering technology.''
Mr Gorman said the Falcon had changed in tandem with the changing tastes of Australian consumers over more than four decades.
``In the 60s, the Falcon was all chrome and white-wall tyres, while in the 70s we had burnt-orange soft-top Falcon coupes to go with our flares and platform shoes,'' he said.
``Today, the BA Mark II Falcon reflects Australia's growing sophistication in the world of the 21st century.''
At 45, the Falcon is older than the jumbo jet, colour television in Australia and the Sydney Opera House.
The car has continued through the passing of 10 prime ministers, five popes and 10 Olympic Games.
In recent years the Falcon has enjoyed a sales revival, the current and 21st BA model proving to be a hit with local buyers after the disappointing performance by the preceding AU version. To the end of last month, Falcon sales had reached 21,894 units.
The decision to launch an Australian-built Ford was taken in 1955, with the car initially intended to be a version of the Zephyr, which at that stage was assembled from kits that arrived from Britain.
But by 1958, Ford Australia managing director Charles Smith had decided the Zephyr was not right for the local market, and he opted instead for the Falcon, a car being designed at the time for the US and Canadian markets.
The first XK model and its successor, the XL, were based on the US car and modified for Australian conditions.
But by 1964 the XM Falcon was much more a car engineered and designed by Australians for local buyers.
I would say that' s the young journalist's interpretation of what we Know to be a vinyl roof.
Funnily enough my mrs calls Vinyl roofs "hard tops- coz it looks like hard plastic"
confused the heck out of me tho when she was describignthsi Fairlane hardtop she saw. i started to explain Landau,
"but no it had four doors really big..like your dad used to have..."
had a hard black plastic roof..... (was a ZH with vinyl)
ahh ya gotta love them
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