Among the executives in Charles Smith's party when he settled on the Ford Falcon was manufacturing engineer Brian Inglis, later to be knighted for his work in the automotive industry and the first Australian-born managing director of Ford Australia.
Years later, he commented on the decision: "There was no doubt which was the better looking car. But the Falcon was not as robust as our restyled Zephyr and we had certain misgivings...Among the things that I believe influenced Mr. Smith deciding on the Falcon was the fact that it was lighter and easier to build, it would cost less than the Zephyr to manufacture, and therefore be more competitive with the Holden, and also that Ford Australia had far more experience in building American cars than British."
Broadmeadows was completed in August 1959, a year before the Falcon, known internally as the XK, was to appear in Australian showrooms. The first car off the new assembly line, ironically, was a Zephyr. Charles Smith retired at the end of 1959, succeeded by 38-year-old John Mclntyre recruited from Canada, where he had been assistant general manager for manufacturing. It was Mclntyre who would have the responsibility of introducing the Falcon to Australia.
The Falcon was launched to the media at a gala function in the Bamboo Room of the fashionable Chevron Hotel in Melbourne. Ford invited 37 journalists from around Australia for the event. As the Falcon song was being sung, the curtains were slowly lifted to reveal the new car amid loud cheers from the newsmen. What they saw, and what car buyers got, was an exact copy of the hugely successful U.S. Falcon compact introduced in the fall of 1959 -- it was a direct transplant, warts and all as it later transpired.
Ford Chairman Henry Ford II had this to say at the car's introduction: "I doubt there's been a new car more talked about, rumored about, and guessed about than the new Ford Falcon...the new-sized Ford. In describing the Falcon to you, it is perhaps easier to begin with what it is not.
"It is not just a small car. It is not just a smaller Ford. It is not just an economy car. It is not the kind of car that's dangerous to take out on a great modern highway in the midst of heavy truck-and-trailer traffic.
"It is a beautifully sophisticated new kind of Ford that combines low cost and great economy with beautiful styling, superb comfort, and complete resources of power and safety.
"In the Falcon we have summed up all this experience in producing an Australian-built economy car, specifically designed for Australian driving conditions."
Learn how the Ford Falcon matched up with the FB Holden on the next page.
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