How did the Falcon and Commodore get their names?

The Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore are undoubtedly the two cars that will be remembered most fondly in the hearts of Australians as the years pass. But just how did the Falcon and Commodore get their names? In most cases, the names of modern cars are the result of hundreds of hours spent by marketers in boardrooms trying to conjure up a name that they believe resonates with the target audience. But in the case of the Falcon and the Commodore, there is a little bit more to the story! Read on to find out about the origins of the names of these two great cars.

The Ford Falcon

Unbeknownst to some, the Falcon has a history long before it ever hit the shores of Australia with some experts believing the name goes as far back as 1935 when Edsel Ford used the name plate on an early luxurious motor vehicle. It didn’t hang around long though, and by 1938 the Falcon had been rebranded as Mercury, which of course went on to become the long-lived ‘luxury’ division of the Ford Motor Company.

The Falcon then reappeared in 1955 as a Chrysler concept vehicle, which was built with the intention of going head to head with the Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet’s Corvette. After only 2 or 3 were built, the idea was shelved once the costings of developing a low volume, high priced vehicle didn’t quite stack up. Now from here is where the story goes one of two directions depending on which side you believe. The first story goes that in 1958, both Chrysler and Ford had internally named their new small car the ‘Falcon’. In the auto industry all names need to be registered with the Automotive Manufacturers Association, and in a case of true coincidence Ford managed to register their ‘Falcon’ a matter of only 20 minutes ahead Chrysler, ensuring the name was Ford’s. Controversy ensued and Chrysler was left searching for a new name.

On the contrary, the other much less exciting story is that Henry Ford II called up Chrysler boss Tex Colbert and asked for permission to use the Falcon name. Colbert was happy to allow the name be used as Chrysler had their eye on another name… The Valiant.

Two years the later the Falcon made its way to Australian shores and after a few early hiccups became one half of Australia’s much publicised Holden v Ford rivalry.

The Holden Commodore

As some of you may know, the Holden Commodore didn’t actually start its life on Australian shores. Some 60 years ago, Opel were building a car called the ‘Rekord’. In 1967 a slightly upspec-ed Rekord was rebranded as the Opel Commodore and marketed as a faster and better looking alternative to the dating Rekord. While the naming process isn’t as interesting or long winded as the Falcon, the Commodore was named after the naval officer rank.

After 10 years of Commodore production the name was brought to Australia and utilised under the Holden banner. The original model, the VB Commodore shared its likeness with both the Opel Commodore C and the Rekord Series E. Right through until 2007 the Holden Commodore drew on a design used by the Opel Omega and Opel Senator before being replaced by the first truly Australian designed Commodore – the VE. So while in 2018 the Commodore will be replace by an Opel, remember it’s not the first time that Australia has been graced with a European designed Holden.

What other car makes and models should we look at the origins of? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Ford V8 Supercar No More?

2. February 2015 16:47 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

After Ford Australia announced in May 2013 that it would be closing its manufacturing operations in Australia by 2016, naturally questions started to be asked about Ford’s continuing involvement in V8 Supercars and its financial support of the factory team Ford Performance Racing.

The signs weren't promising and on 1st December 2013, Ford President Bob Graziano officially confirmed that Ford would be withdrawing financial support from V8 Supercars at the end of 2015, with a total withdrawal from the category at the end of 2016.  

Ford fans were on the whole extremely saddened, as the brand they have cheered for, shed tears with and owned themselves would no long have support of the manufacturer. Fords continued participation in the series moving forward was also now under a cloud.

Tim Edwards who is Team Principal of Prodrive Racing Australia (PRA), commonly known as Ford Performance Racing (FPR), also confirmed the decision and made the following statement.

“Ford Australia’s decision to not extend its commercial relationship with our team beyond the end of next season is extremely disappointing for our large and loyal fan base, but as a business this decision now allows us to concentrate on our long-term future,” Edwards said.

“We have enjoyed a highly-successful relationship with Ford Australia with just shy of 50 race wins, 150 podiums and the last two Bathurst 1000 crowns together.”

It is expected both PRA and Dick Johnson Racing Team Penske (DJRTP) will continue to campaign the new Ford Falcon FG X being debuted this year through 2015 and 2016, however the future of both the Falcon and Ford in V8 Supercars is now the new question on everyone’s lips.

In 2017 V8 Supercars will reinvigorate the category with the new ‘Gen2’ rules package. This new technical framework opens up engine and body shape regulations which will allow turbo charged four and six cylinder engines to run alongside the existing V8 engines.

The other large change will be to free up the body shape eligibility, and combined with the new engine allowances, has been designed to entice more manufacturers to the sport.

Whether this means a Ford Mustang could potentially be competing in V8 Supercars from 2017 onwards is purely speculation, but it would be a welcome inclusion to the die-hard Ford fans, who have been cheering on the Blue Oval since the company first started its involvement in Australian motor racing in the 1960’s.

The ‘Ford Works Team (Australia)’ was the first Australian motor racing team to be supported by Ford Australia after its formation in 1962 and at that years Armstrong 500 held at Phillip Island, Harry Firth and Bob Jane drove their Ford Falcon XL to victory.

This began an incredible journey of Ford in motor racing in Australia with many unforgettable moments, including of course the unforgettable moment that Alan Moffat and Colin Bond completed a 1 -2 finish in perfect formation at Bathurst in 1977.

Ford currently holds twenty three Australian Touring Car Championship titles, versus Holden’s nineteen titles and Ford has proudly won Bathurst a total of twenty times over the events history.

For most Ford fans, the passion for the Blue Oval will remain irrespective of Ford’s involvement in V8 Supercars moving forward, however Australian motorsport would be all the better if the iconic and truly aussie Ford vs Holden rivalry could remain for years to come.