By Ford, I don’t mean Ford Australia, I mean Dearborn in Detroit: Ford headquarters. The missed opportunity may have happened for a potentially good reason, but shows that corporations are now more risk averse than ever and the sort of cars that some enthusiasts are clamouring for are just not going to come down the assembly line.
What’s the missed opportunity you ask? A globally used rear wheel drive passenger vehicle platform with a variety of drivetrains. The idea has been dismissed as too expensive and too niche. But is it really? Since the Falcon has the 2.0L Ecoboost engine as an option, it’s a no brainer in terms of how potentially flexible the platform could be. In the Ford stable, there are four remaining rear wheel drive capable nameplates: Mustang, the F-series and Ranger trucks and Falcon. All originated in America, one was then adopted as a favourite son with modern components but subsequently became a forgotten uncle and of the others, Mustang is a global automotive icon, but refreshed based on a classic cues with comparatively ancient technology while the trucks are all tough and ready to rumble workhorses. Logically, you could combine the two passenger vehicle platforms and meld their requirements into one single platform to build cars off.
Admittedly, General Motors tried this with the Commodore and Camaro platform, and though a moderate success, the bankruptcy GM went through during the Global Financial Crisis really killed off any further development of cars the from their platform. In reality though, it is still a viable base for GM and Ford into the future as long as the vehicles coming out of the platform are engineered to be left and right hand drive and available globally.
The numbers aren’t dire. Sure, you’d never set a target to build two million off the same basic design per year, but since you’d use the platform for bigger, more luxurious vehicles with much higher than normal profit margins, you could get away with lower volumes. But in truth, the platform would be designed for more than just Falcon and Mustang. The Territory is a derivative of the Falcon and has made buckets of money in Australia and deservedly so. Unless you had BMW X5 cash, you couldn’t get as good an all-round vehicle as the Territory in Australia. The Ford Taurus could also be rebuilt as a big, rear drive sedan, economical if you’re a penny pincher, or thunderously loud if you wanted to be a bogan.
Even the worldwide SUVs would get a new platform. The big, boofy and polarising Flex could adopt the platform, as well as the new
Exploder Explorer, since they’re based on the Taurus. But the biggest beneficiary would most likely be to Lincoln. Ford’s version of Lexus – though North American only – Lincoln has a long history and its chief claim to fame is the Lincoln Aircraft Carrier Continental of the 1960s. Since then it’s struggled for legitimacy with lacklustre, rebadged versions of Ford vehicles. If Lincoln could get its hands on a fast, luxurious hero car, then it would spark enough interest for people to actually go and buy the damned things.
To me, this is the one ingredient that’s missing from the future of the Blue Oval. I don’t much care whether the cars are built in Australia, but if they are, all the better. The issue is that us horsepower enthusiasts probably won’t see properly affordable supercar power in Australia unless we all dive in to a HSV. If only somebody in the company could make it happen!