Home » Here’s A Tour Of An Australian Junkyard Filled With Fords You Probably Know Nothing About

Here’s A Tour Of An Australian Junkyard Filled With Fords You Probably Know Nothing About

Junkyard Down Under Ts
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Touring new car dealerships will show you the current automotive state of play in a given area. Used car lots will give you a cross-section of the last couple of decades. Junkyards, though, will tell you stories stretching back decades. I recently headed out to one on a flying visit to my hometown, and decided to chronicle the stocks of old Fords for audiences both foreign and domestic.

I shot this with an eye to American and, to a lesser extent European audiences. I aim to educate on the magic of the Falcon, and what you can learn from what you do and don’t find in the junkyard. If you’re an Australian, much of what I pontificate on will not be news to you, unless you’re maybe less than 15 years old. Still, you may enjoy watching it and laughing at me for mixing up XD and XFs and misquoting generations of Laser.

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As you’ll see, Australian junkyards are full of Ford Falcons. Once upon a time, the four-door sedan ruled the roost, as did the inline-six engine. The Falcon primarily did battle against the Holden Commodore, and before that, the Kingswood. Later in its life, it would tangle with the Mitsubishi Magna and the globally-beloved Toyota Camry.

No matter where you landed on the timeline, the Ford Falcon typically offered good torque from a stout inline six. At times, it was available with a V8, but the vast majority of Australian families considered six cylinders to be enough. These were Aussie cars with Aussie engines, put together with Aussie blood, sweat, and tears. And, unlike the rival Holden Commodore, Falcons were designed here, too. They were built to roam the vast distances between our capital cities, haul the kids to school, and to pick us up from the airport. The Falcon, in particular, was an absolute darling of the taxi industry, particularly in the 1990s.

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Fuel economy was never really a strong point of the type, but in the halcyon days of cheap gas, nobody cared. Eventually the 2000s would see the beginning of a terminal decline for the model as Australians shifted to hipper SUVs and fuel-sipping hatchbacks. But in the 20th century? The Falcon ruled Ford’s Australian lineup.  20231219 093816 Result10

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I spent a lot of time in EB Falcons. I had an auto from 1992, and a five-speed manual from 1991. The first was sentenced to death after being defected by police, the second I sold because these things had all the steering feel of a bowl of buttered noodles.

In the video above, you’ll see that I found a selection of models from the early 1980s up to the mid-2000s. Newer Falcons are mostly still on the road, with production ending in 2016. Earlier models dating pre-1980 are typically worth too much money to be found in a junkyard like this; you’ll instead find them in personal paddock collections or at specialty classic yards. My visit chronicles the journey from the carbureted 3.3- and 4.1-liter sixes of the XD, XE, and XF, through to the fuel injected age that dawned in the late 1980s. First with the EA Falcon, with its beleaguered 3.9-liter donk with the single injector, and then on to the EB Falcon and beyond with their far more advanced multi-point injection engines.

The Barra

Our journey through time ends at the mighty Barra, seen here in a number of BA Falcon sedans and wagons. The engine has become Internet famous as a powerful turbocharged inline-six. In that guise, it was first delivered in the Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo in 2002, delivering 322 horsepower. However, the Barra wasn’t just a turbo hero engine. It also served as the base motor for the Falcon in its naturally-aspirated form. Even then, it still put out a healthy 244 horsepower from its 4.0-liter displacement. That was largely courtesy of double overhead cams and variable cam timing. This marked the first time these were standard on the Falcon lineup.

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The mighty Barra, seen here in its run-of-the-mill naturally aspirated form. The standard valve covers seem to turn pretty quickly after exposure to the elements.
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The Barra was developed from earlier Ford engines like the SOHC Intech six of the AU models, which itself was a development of the SOHC engine of the EB Falcon seen here. Indeed, some say each Falcon engine was derived in some way from the one before it, all the way back to the 2.4-liter Thriftpower Six that launched with the first Falcon in 1959. 

Indeed, the Barra even got a version designed from the factory to run on liquified petroleum gas, or LPG, which delivered 209 horsepower. Today, it’s known as the greentop engine, and is prized for its thicker rods, which allow it to handle more power when built up as a turbocharged gasoline engine.

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I also dive into some other curios at the yard. The AU Falcon, which served as one of the worst examples of Ford’s 90s “New Edge” styling. There’s also the Falcon XH ute – basically an ancient 1980s ute body with 1990s running gear up front. Yes, Ford got lazy, and when it built the E-series Falcons in the 1990s, it couldn’t be bothered styling a ute model. Instead, it just stuck the front end of the 1996 EL model on the 1980s XF model’s rear end and tray.

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The AU Falcon was reviled for its droopy New Edge styling. I was told a family friend had bought one because he thought it looked like a Porsche. We didn’t see them much after that.20231219 093708 Result1

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There was also a Falcon Longreach van – basically the XH ute, but with a metal canopy on top. It’s not unlike the body style of the famous Holden Sandman. The Sandman became a symbol of sexual liberation for the youth culture of the 1970s and 1980s. However, by the 90s, it was no longer cool or in vogue to build a modified van with a bed in the back, and the Longreach was mostly just used as a vehicle for tradies.

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Aussies loved weird body styles and liquified petroleum gas. Not so anymore.

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There’s more to Ford than Falcons, of course. I also hit on classics like the Ford Laser, which was a hugely popular small car in the 1980s and 1990s. It used Mazda B-series engines, also seen in cars like the Mazda 121 and Mazda Miata. We also got a couple of generations of Festiva, the second of which was sold in North America as the Ford Aspire. It wasn’t a vehicle to aspire to here, and I doubt it was for Americans, either. We also got a smattering of examples of the Ford Focus, a few of which show up in our wrecking yards. Ideally though, any with the Powershift transmission would be thrown straight in the crusher to wipe the scourge from the Earth for good.

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Australia also got a ton of Ford’s small cars over the years, primarily imported from overseas. Many 1980s and 1990s models used Mazda’s B-series engines, relatives of which are seen in the Miata. 

There’s one thing you will struggle to find in this wrecking yard, though. It’s a V8 engine. Now, don’t get me wrong. Aussies love their V8s, they really do. Or… they say they do. But really, Australian culture is often about saying one thing, but doing another. After all, we’re the laidback country of lovable larrikins that will fine you for drinking a beer on the beach. We say we love our V8s, but we didn’t actually buy that many.

Sure; if you go to an American junkyard, you’ll be tripping over trucks and old Malaise era junk left right and center. You’ll find all kinds of V8s of high and low tune, iron heads and alloy heads, the lot. You can score yourself a junkyard LS for a thousand bucks or two, slap on an eBay turbo, and you’ll be a YouTube hero in no time. Not so Down Under.

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It’s all sixes baby. This later E-series Falcon engine rocked a single-overhead cam, multipoint fuel injection, and that snail-like intake manifold.

In Australia, we pretty much only got V8 engines in out and out performance models from Holden and Ford. Sure, they could be had for a fair price when new, but the vast majority of customers stuck to the base engines. Hell, Ford Australia even stopped making and selling V8s entirely in 1982, eventually bringing them back in 1991 with imported 5.0-liter Windsor engines from the US.

Thus, the V8 models that remain are highly valued compared to garden-variety models. An old rusty Falcon might have only been worth a few hundred bucks, and so it was easy enough to send it to the junkyard. V8 models never really got that cheap, even used, and typically get parted out by owners or end up at higher-end specialty wreckers. Low-buck junkyards have few to no V8s; I didn’t spot a single one in my adventures today.

I hope this has given you a little glimpse at Australian car culture, and I hope to do it again some day. Even better, I’d love to do it with a better camera set up and a decent microphone. Share your tales of junkyard adventures below, or tell me what you love or hate about Australian cars. You know I love the banter!

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Image credits: Lewin Day

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Ricardo
Ricardo
3 months ago

Great article.

Australians have always talked V8s, raced V8s, …and mostly driven 6 cylinders. Through the 70s and 80s the Ford 6s were effortless engines for the popular full sized Falcons. Borg Warner 35 3 speed autos where the go with the whiney planetary gear set. Petrol was $0.60-$0.80 cents per litre in the cities until the early 2000s so no-one really cared too much about their poor fuel economy.

Through the 70s and 80s we also had significant import tariffs on imported cars to protect our local car manufacturing industry which made something like a Honda Accord more expensive than a mid spec Falcon or Commodore.

Later model Falcons were unique in having a dedicated LPG engine option (Green Top engines) where the engine used only LPG, and not a petrol/lpg mix (that is a whole other thread). These were popular with taxi and fleet operators because despite the fuel economy being 15 % worse than petrol LPG was 1/2 the costs of petrol. Australia has massive LPG reserves so there was a significant push by the Gas Industry to develop use of this fuel further as an automotive fuel but ultimately it failed to get wide spread acceptance.

Fun Fact – there was a 4 cylinder Falcon introduced in the final model series to move with the times using a 2.3 litre Ecoboost engine from the Mondeo. It got good reviews, but was not significantly better on fuel and so was not enough to bring back buyers who had now switched to SUVs in their droves.

Rod Millington
Rod Millington
3 months ago

How dare you besmirch the name of our lord and saviour, the AU Falcon, with such vile language.

Regorlas
Regorlas
3 months ago

When an Australian car is written off due to kangaroo collision, does it leave a distinctive enough pattern for you recognize in the junkyard?

I recall walking through some wrecked cars in the US and someone in the group pointed at a car and declared: “That was a deer.” I don’t have enough experience to tell. Picture of deer damage on Torch’s Pao didn’t look particularly distinctive to my eyes.

Ricardo
Ricardo
3 months ago
Reply to  Regorlas

Not really. The amount of damage car vary depending on if the ‘Roo was at the top or bottom of its bounce when you hit it. If it was at the top of the bounce they can go over the bonnet, smash your screen and can end up going over your roof. If its at the bottom of the bounce then its like hitting a sack of potatoes and can really mess up your front end.

Sometime its a glancing blow and the ‘Roo bounces off and leaves you with drivable damage, sometimes its a square on hit that can split your radiator and bend ever panels. Rare that it would bend a chassis but certainly can set off airbags.

Its not an automatic write off, really depends on the value of your vehicle.

Hitting a Wombat is also usually catastrophic to car and animal. These animals live in burrows underground, and are shaped like a keg with stumpy legs. Hitting one of these can rip a corner of suspension off a car but seeing one in the bush, let alone hitting one, is exceptionally rare.

The fitting of bullbars to cars in regional australia is very common, and seen as a way of minimising the damage in hitting wildflife.

Regorlas
Regorlas
3 months ago
Reply to  Ricardo

Thanks for the overview! I’ve seen those bars referenced in Project Cactus, and the Falcon Longreach van in this article has been fitted as well. This one has a dent right in the middle, though by your description it’s too small to be from a kangaroo.

Loudsx .
Loudsx .
3 months ago

Got my BA ute running after sitting for 15 months this week, new battery and started first time, great for bathurst/bunnings runs.

the big question is did I manage to kill all the spiders in it!

Sean Ellery
Sean Ellery
2 months ago
Reply to  Loudsx .

No. No you did not. There will always be another spider in the car.

Better to just burn it.

Ford_Timelord
Ford_Timelord
3 months ago

Love this content thanks Lewin. Also see the AU falcon story on Garbage Time Here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1jqvXK-Q4Q&t=1s

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
3 months ago

“We say we love our V8s, but we didn’t actually buy that many.”

Well that solves the mystery of what happened to the V8 interceptors.

Guillaume Maurice
Guillaume Maurice
3 months ago

Just pick up the bits and pieces needed to sole some of the quirks of Project Cactus

Laurence Rogers
Laurence Rogers
3 months ago

Nyet, Cactus is fine.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
3 months ago

Is it just me or are those MX6 headlights on the Falcon Longreach van? I saw it. I can’t um-see it.

Space
Space
3 months ago

What is that whitish thing on front of the red one with the bumper on the ground? Some kind of crash protection?

Ron888
Ron888
3 months ago
Reply to  Space

Yes almost certainly.It’ll be designed to absorb energy at a certain rate

Ricardo
Ricardo
3 months ago
Reply to  Ron888

Its impact absorbing plastic that sits behind the stock bumper.

Stephen Walter Gossin
Stephen Walter Gossin
3 months ago

Love me some junkyard content – bravo my man! Great piece; awesome video.

Danger Ranger
Danger Ranger
3 months ago

We need more Gossin’s junkyard gold content!

Stephen Walter Gossin
Stephen Walter Gossin
3 months ago
Reply to  Danger Ranger

The last one didn’t do so hot – going to try and bring it back with a vengeance!

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
3 months ago

Great work on an interesting article…I just thought of an idea for an article- just about the history of the Australian car industry, background on Utes, etc.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
3 months ago

A Falcon wagon with a straight six and a stick…that’s the dream right there.

Morgan Thomas
Morgan Thomas
3 months ago

I think the 3.9 single-point injection motors had 2 injectors in the throttle body – I’ve got one of the throttle bodies in the shed somewhere complete with factory LPG hat that I grabbed from a wrecker years ago in case I could use it for an EFI setup on a Valiant Slant Six.
Another thing to note is that the Falcon wagon eventually ended production in 2010 due to the shift to SUVs making the Ford Territory (an SUV style car based on the Falcon platform) more popular for large families. Similarly, the Fairlane and LTD (long wheelbase luxury versions of the Falcon) died out by 2007 due to low sales – my 2003 BA Fairlane Ghia (with Barra 6) was one of only 2389 sold that year, and numbers dropped rapidly after that. During the same period, the V8-only LTD never even reached 200 sales a year.
In the early 2000s when I worked at Crow Cams, we had a contract with Tickford/FPV to supply performance camshafts for the Modular V8s – eventually this production was expanded, with us having to set up a second factory purely to grind these cams, when Ford decided to use different cam profiles in their XP8 models than the cams the Modular V8s came with from the USA, and we started supplying them directly.
And when the Barra Turbo engines appeared, and people realised how much easier it was to extract more power cheaply, they took over as ‘the’ motor to play with, and the XR8s and other ‘collectible’ V8 Falcons ended up being bought as toys or investments by ‘cashed-up bogans’.

Last edited 3 months ago by Morgan Thomas
David Escargot
David Escargot
3 months ago

Well well well… a lot to discuss here…
XFs are possibly one of the greatest cars of all time, I spent a lot of time in an XF wagon as a kid, it had a tickled 4.1 efi, t5 manual and the diff from an auto, giving it what seemed like at the time, the world’s longest legs…it would hit over 200kph… theoretically of course… darned thing was retired to a performance engine builer with 510,000kms on it….but I always confuse the XD,E,F and the EA,B,D.

The AU Falcon was a horror when it was introduced with the ‘baleen whale’ grille, but series 2 and 3 SR models with the horizontal 3 bar grille and the rear spoiler were a decent looking car for their era… admittedly the T series are polarising….

As for the straight six love, I think its partially to do with what seems like every aussie dads obsession with value for money, and partly because of Australia’s perpetual love for an underdog.

Fun Fact: the barra block used the same machining jigs as the earlier 250 sixes sold in older falcons… most engine swaps are a mount swap to get the block in there…

Bonus Fun Fact: the barra uses its cast sump as a ‘girdle’ holding the main caps square and level. Allegedly this design was tested to the point where the engine made 1000nm of torque before it was signed off

Bonus bonus Fun Fact: when the turbo barra was in development the name Gull was suggested for it due to the fact its designers knew it would shit on everything that currently existed here.

In closing… long live the EcoLPI gas barra, and no other LPG injection system

Last edited 3 months ago by David Escargot
David Escargot
David Escargot
3 months ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

There’s a lot of tall tales around the barra on the internet, some founded, some unfounded, I only try to repeat ones I have confirmation on from various trustworthy sources…

I personally am a big fan of the snail shell intake also because of it being an engineering feat… for those uneducated, I’m guessing you knew this Lewin, it has butterflies in the runners to shorten the intake runner length and let the air run directly into the ports on the side of the head… making more torque down low and more power higher in the rev range… it changes at about
4k rpm on a barra… LeMans tech on a 90s taxi…

Also pointing to Ford Australia reusing designs from earlier generations is the fact that the cylinder head on the barra is massively offset to one side… apparently this is because the design is basically the same as the earlier ‘intech’ engine on the exhaust side and ‘new and improved’ on the intake side…

I think the AU Falcon also lives on as people have finally worked out that is strikes the perfect balance of being fast enough to get done at triple digits over the speed limit (in kph), being able to rip massive skids, big enough to take 4 large adults comfortably, and have pretty good handling for their size

You may or may not have started me talking about my favourite automotive topic

Last edited 3 months ago by David Escargot
Chewcudda
Chewcudda
3 months ago

I can’t be the only US owner of an inline-250CID Ford on here. I was hoping for pictures of the superior cylinder head with detachable 2BBL intake developed by Ford Australia.

David Escargot
David Escargot
3 months ago
Reply to  Chewcudda

Those are mostly on what is now regarded as an ‘expensive’ falcon due to their age…

Morgan Thomas
Morgan Thomas
3 months ago
Reply to  Chewcudda

That would be the 2V head – years ago a friend found one to fit to his TC Cortina (6 cylinder engines in ‘British’ Cortinas is another Australian story) and it ended up with a Mr Gasket ‘bugcatcher’ style hood scoop, offset to the left side of the bonnet.

Morgan Thomas
Morgan Thomas
3 months ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

That would be a Crossflow head in an XF Falcon – these appeared in 1976 with the XC model as part of a redesign to meet the new ADR 27A pollution regs, which also saw locally produced Clevelands. That XF would have been the last model fitted with that Crossflow engine. Earlier motors had intake and exhaust both on the right side of the head. The single barrel carb equipped ones had the inlet manifold cast as an integral part of the head, and modifying one required machining off the manifold and welding on a flange to take an aftermarket manifold. The 2V versions got an actual separate 2 barrel carb manifold that bolted to a new head casting.

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