Customs & Classics
From towing his two-tonne boat to lugging around 190-kilogram arc welders, Lou McCauley's dark green 1971 Ford Falcon XY ute has never missed a beat.
"It drives like a dream," the 68-year-old former Taupo fireman says.
So he is disappointed by yesterday's news that Ford Australia is to close its Melbourne production plants and and retire the Falcon nameplate in 2016, at the cost of at least 1200 jobs.
Mr McCauley cut his teeth on Ford engines as an apprentice mechanic in Taupo. He bought the ute from a friend for $7000 in 1988 and has used it since to tow his boat to Whakatane.
He turned down a recent offer of $20,000 for it.
"I said no. Where would you get something to replace it at that price?"
The ute now has 139,000 miles (223,700 kilometres) on the clock.
"I've had it for 25 years and it still goes like a bomb."
He used it not long ago to shift a 190kg arc welder.
"I dropped it in the deck with no trouble."
He has replaced the manual transmission, changed the cylinder head, added bucket seats and replaced the wheel rims with chrome-plated "12 slotters".
Ford Australia president and chief executive Bob Graziano announced yesterday that the company would stop making the Falcon and the Territory in late 2016 when it closes its Broadmeadows and Geelong plants.
Manufacturing was "no longer viable ... in the long term", he said, citing a A$600 million loss over the past five years.
The announcement is unlikely to have much direct effect on New Zealand, where Ford closed its last assembly plants in 1997. Spare parts for Falcons and Territories will continue to be available after 2016.
Dealers here already sell cars produced in three European factories, in Thailand and, from next year, India.
Falcons used to be assembled at Seaview, Lower Hutt, and Mr McCauley can remember driving down from Taupo to pick up new vehicles for his employer, Johnstone Motors.
"When we got there they would give us a bag with the cigarette lighter, wing mirrors, hubcaps and wiper blades for us to put on before we left.
"It was to stop the parts getting pilfered at the Seaview plant. We always had a bit of a chuckle about it."
- © Fairfax NZ News