Wheeling in the years series - Ford Falcon flew high in the 80s

It took Ford 22 years to knock Holden off the perch as Australia’s top selling car, but in 1982 the Falcon edged out the Commodore and retained top spot for the next seven years.

Between them the Falcon and the Commodore shared a quarter of the market for new cars in 1982. That may sound impressive, but it was a huge drop from the early 1960s where six-out-of-10 Australian cars were either Holdens or Fords.

Ford and Holden executives today, however, would probably kill for the sort of market share they enjoyed in the 80s. In 2014 Holden sold just one-in-10 new cars in Australia and Ford had a modest 7.7 per cent of a vastly more fragmented market.

Toyota rising

The 80s were good for Ford. In 1984 not only was the Falcon Australia’s top selling car, but the Laser was clearly the king of small car sales, and the third best seller overall, with its Telstar holding down fifth spot. But in a sign of things to come, Toyota nudged Holden into third place, with almost one-in-five of us buying new Toyotas.

Hyundai “poses very little threat”

In 1986 another player entered the game when entrepreneur Alan Bond introduced Hyundai to Australia. Most motoring writers were initially underwhelmed by the cheap and cheerful Korean. One, John Mellor, labelled it “a sort of Skoda of the Orient” and went so far as to make the rash prediction that “… the Bond-Hyundai operation poses very little threat to any existing cars because, at this early stage, there is very little incentive to buy except, perhaps, curiosity value.”

To give Mellor his due, however, in less than a year he had a dramatic change of mind in the face of modest but rapidly growing sales figures for Hyundai.

“My suspicion is that you are currently seeing the Korean equivalent of the Toyota Tiara of 20 years ago. Stand by for the Korean invasion,” Mellor wrote in Car Australia. They were prescient words – Hyundai had sold a million cars in Australia by 2012 and by June 2015 the Hyundai i30 was Australia’s top selling car.

In fact as early as 1987 Hyundai had entered tenth position, though Ford dominated the sales charts, with the Falcon at an all time high, with 15.3 per cent of a greatly subdued market for new cars. It wasn’t just the Falcon flying the flag for Ford, which held a remarkable 31 per cent of the passenger car market for the year. The Ford Laser was also Australia’s most popular small car, even outselling the Toyota Corolla.

Ford was to hold that market leadership through to the end of the decade, though in 1989 the Holden Commodore had wrested back the top selling model spot with its recently released VN model.

The Series 2 VN released in September 1989 boasted an improved V6 engine with a recalibrated automatic transmission reducing noise and vibration. Holden entered the 90s poised to continue the sales battle with its great rival, Ford, but that Japanese giant, Toyota, was waiting to pounce on both of them.

Year in Focus, 1982 – Australia Full Year Brands:

 
Model
1982
%
1
Ford Falcon
84,184
13.7%
2
Holden Commodore
78,429
12.7%
3
Mitsubishi Sigma
42,210
6.8%
4
Ford Laser
40,069
6.5%
5
Nissan Skyline
34,048
5.5%
6
Holden Gemini
27,501
4.5%
7
Toyota Corolla
22,916
3.7%
8
Holden Camira
20,843
3.4%
9
Toyota Corona
19,000
3.1%
10
Nissan Stanza/Sunny/Pulsar
14,662
2.4%

Year in Focus, 1989 vs 1988 - Australia Full Year Brands:

 
Brand
1989
%
/88
1988
%
Pos
1
Ford
147,076
24.2%
10%
134,160
25.7%
1
2
Toyota
113,967
18.8%
13%
100,830
19.3%
2
3
Holden
106,252
17.5%
16%
91,819
17.6%
3
4
Mitsubishi
72,414
11.9%
15%
62,791
12.0%
4
5
Nissan
67,432
11.1%
19%
56,870
10.9%
5
6
Mazda
20,047
3.3%
34%
14,956
2.9%
6
7
Honda
15,795
2.6%
16%
13,616
2.6%
7
8
Daihatsu
9,477
1.6%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
9
Subaru
9,295
1.5%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
10
Hyundai
6,925
1.1%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
11
Suzuki
6,379
1.1%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
12
BMW
4,860
0.8%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
13
Volvo
4,799
0.8%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
14
Mercedes
3,949
0.7%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
15
JRA
3,766
0.6%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
16
Lada
3,098
0.5%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
17
Saab
2,491
0.4%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
18
Alfa Romeo
790
0.1%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
 
1
Brand
Ford
1989
147,076
%
24.2%
/88
10%
1988
134,160
%
25.7%
Pos
1
 
2
Brand
Toyota
1989
113,967
%
18.8%
/88
13%
1988
100,830
%
19.3%
Pos
2
 
3
Brand
Holden
1989
106,252
%
17.5%
/88
16%
1988
91,819
%
17.6%
Pos
3
 
4
Brand
Mitsubishi
1989
72,414
%
11.9%
/88
15%
1988
62,791
%
12.0%
Pos
4
 
5
Brand
Nissan
1989
67,432
%
11.1%
/88
19%
1988
56,870
%
10.9%
Pos
5
 
6
Brand
Mazda
1989
20,047
%
3.3%
/88
34%
1988
14,956
%
2.9%
Pos
6
 
7
Brand
Honda
1989
15,795
%
2.6%
/88
16%
1988
13,616
%
2.6%
Pos
7
 
8
Brand
Daihatsu
1989
9,477
%
1.6%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
9
Brand
Subaru
1989
9,295
%
1.5%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
10
Brand
Hyundai
1989
6,925
%
1.1%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
11
Brand
Suzuki
1989
6,379
%
1.1%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
12
Brand
BMW
1989
4,860
%
0.8%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
13
Brand
Volvo
1989
4,799
%
0.8%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
14
Brand
Mercedes
1989
3,949
%
0.7%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
15
Brand
JRA
1989
3,766
%
0.6%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
16
Brand
Lada
1989
3,098
%
0.5%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
17
Brand
Saab
1989
2,491
%
0.4%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
18
Brand
Alfa Romeo
1989
790
%
0.1%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a

Year in focus, 1989 – Australia Full Year Models:

 
Model
1989
%
/88
1988
%
Pos
1
Holden Commodore
70,831
11.7%
23%
57,648
11.0%
2
2
Ford Falcon
64,281
10.6%
-7%
69,382
13.3%
1
3
Mitsubishi Magna
36,423
6.0%
-10%
40,518
7.8%
3
4
Ford Laser
32,355
5.3%
15%
28,031
5.4%
5
5
Toyota Camry
32,308
5.3%
7%
30,273
5.8%
4
6
Toyota Corolla
22,130
3.6%
-6%
23,586
4.5%
6
7
Nissan Pulsar
17,698
2.9%
10%
16,039
3.1%
7
8
Ford Telstar
12,173
2.0%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
9
Nissan Skyline
12,031
2.0%
12%
10,778
2.1%
10
10
Nissan Pintara
11,504
1.9%
-1%
11,615
2.2%
9
11
Holden Astra (e)
9,550
1.6%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
12
Ford Fairlane
8,355
1.4%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
13
Mazda 626
7,010
1.2%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
14
Hyundai Excel
6,820
1.1%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
15
Mitsubishi Colt (e)
6,622
1.1%
n/a
n/a
n/a
12
16
Daihatsu Charade
5,959
1.0%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
17
Subaru
5,290
0.9%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
18
Honda Civic (e)
5,175
0.9%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
19
Honda Prelude (e)
4,530
0.7%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
20
Holden Barina
4,419
0.7%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
Mazda 323
4,043
0.7%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
Mitsubishi Lancer
3,747
0.6%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
Holden Apollo
3,256
0.5%
new
0
0.0%
-
n/a
Toyota Lexcen
2,984
0.5%
new
0
0.0%
-
n/a
Toyota Seca
2,104
0.3%
new
0
0.0%
-
n/a
Ford Capri
643
0.1%
new
0
0.0%
-
 
1
Model
Holden Commodore
1989
70,831
%
11.7%
/88
23%
1988
57,648
%
11.0%
Pos
2
 
2
Model
Ford Falcon
1989
64,281
%
10.6%
/88
-7%
1988
69,382
%
13.3%
Pos
1
 
3
Model
Mitsubishi Magna
1989
36,423
%
6.0%
/88
-10%
1988
40,518
%
7.8%
Pos
3
 
4
Model
Ford Laser
1989
32,355
%
5.3%
/88
15%
1988
28,031
%
5.4%
Pos
5
 
5
Model
Toyota Camry
1989
32,308
%
5.3%
/88
7%
1988
30,273
%
5.8%
Pos
4
 
6
Model
Toyota Corolla
1989
22,130
%
3.6%
/88
-6%
1988
23,586
%
4.5%
Pos
6
 
7
Model
Nissan Pulsar
1989
17,698
%
2.9%
/88
10%
1988
16,039
%
3.1%
Pos
7
 
8
Model
Ford Telstar
1989
12,173
%
2.0%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
9
Model
Nissan Skyline
1989
12,173
%
2.0%
/88
12%
1988
10,778
%
2.1%
Pos
10
 
10
Model
Nissan Pintara
1989
11,504
%
1.9%
/88
-1%
1988
11,615
%
2.2%
Pos
9
 
11
Model
Holden Astra (e)
1989
9,550
%
1.6%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
12
Model
Ford Fairlane
1989
8,355
%
1.4%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
13
Model
Mazda 626
1989
7,010
%
1.2%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
14
Model
Hyundai Excel
1989
6,820
%
1.1%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
15
Model
Mitsubishi Colt (e)
1989
6,622
%
1.1%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
12
 
16
Model
Daihatsu Charade
1989
5,959
%
1.0%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
17
Model
Subaru
1989
5,290
%
0.9%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
18
Model
Honda Civic (e)
1989
5,175
%
0.9%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
19
Model
Honda Prelude (e)
1989
4,530
%
0.7%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
20
Model
Holden Barina
1989
4,419
%
0.7%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
n/a
Model
Mazda 323
1989
4,043
%
0.7%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
n/a
Model
Mitsubishi Lancer
1989
3,747
%
0.6%
/88
n/a
1988
n/a
%
n/a
Pos
n/a
 
n/a
Model
Holden Apollo
1989
3,256
%
0.5%
/88
new
1988
0
%
0.0%
Pos
-
 
n/a
Model
Toyota Lexcen
1989
2,984
%
0.5%
/88
new
1988
0
%
0.0%
Pos
-
 
n/a
Model
Toyota Seca
1989
2,104
%
0.3%
/88
new
1988
0
%
0.0%
Pos
-
 
n/a
Model
Ford Capri
1989
643
%
0.1%
/88
new
1988
0
%
0.0%
Pos
-

Blog image: 1982 Ford Falcon (XE) GL sedan (2014-11-23), Author: Sicnag, Date: 23 November 2014

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