Ford ends 91 years of Australian production, while the last locally-built small Holden rolls out of the factory.

Australian automaking has reach the end of an era as production of the legendary Ford Falcon ends and Holden completes its last locally-built small car.

With the passing of the Falcon, Ford ends 91 years of Australian production. The Broadmeadows factory opened its doors in August 1959 and started building the Falcon when it went on sale the following September. In its 57-year history, the plant has turned out some 4,356,628 vehicles, most of them Falcons. It also built the Falcon Ute and Territory SUV, production of which had already ceased.

The Falcon is a victim of Ford’s “world car” policy. Australia is a relatively small market and Ford decided it couldn’t justify the expense of developing a direct replacement for a car that shares little with other models in its portfolio and is sold almost exclusively in a single country. The smaller, Spanish-built Mondeo (known as Fusion in the United States), provides an indirect replacement for mainstream Falcon models, while the Mustang deputizes for the hot V8 versions.

General Motors subsidiary Holden, meanwhile, ended small car production in Australia when the last Holden (neé Chevrolet) Cruze rolled off the Elizabeth production line. Some 126,255 examples of the Cruze have been built in Australia since production started in 2011; it is being replaced by a Holden-badged version of the Opel Astra, which is built in the United Kingdom.

Some 270 Holden workers are leaving the company voluntarily as a result. That’s actually lower than forecast as many are moving over to the Commodore line, though production of that model will itself end next year.

600 Ford employees have lost their jobs, as well, though 160 have been moved to the company’s local design and development operations. Indeed, both Ford and GM have large design and engineering centers in Australia as the country’s uniquely demanding terrain and climate make it a particularly tough proving ground for new models.

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