THE last of the Aussie-built Ford Territory SUVs has left the brand’s showrooms.
The former local car maker recorded no sales for the Ford Territory in February, with a source confirming to Wheels that the last of the ground-breaking family cars had been sold.
In contrast, it’s believed that only a very small number of Falcon sedans remain on the company’s books.
The last of the Ford Territory sales closes the door on almost 14 years of history for what would eventually become the replacement for the Falcon wagon.
Billed as an Aussie version of a BMW X5, the Territory launched in April 2004 to pretty much universal acclaim.
Work started on the idea of a locally brewed SUV back in 1998. After early development work including four scale models, then Ford Australia boss Geoff Polites pitched the idea to Detroit, and came back with a $500 million budget.
The company also needed to sell some of the land it owned at Broadmeadows to help fund the project.
We had our first look with the Territory, known as the E265, at the 2002 Melbourne Motor Show. Bearing a strong resemblance to the car that would soon roll off production lines, Ford already knew it was on a winner. By the next year, it will have unveiled a production version, again at Melbourne, as well as giving it the now iconic name: Territory. In late 2003, the interior – one of the most versatile and family-friendly ever developed in a vehicle – was revealed at the Sydney motor show.
When it arrived, the Ford Territory introduced an Australian first: the AWD version, which came with electronic chassis stability as standard.
Controversially, Ford chose to launch the Territory in New Zealand, drawing huge criticism. Ford’s explanation was that it needed the right terrain to show off the SUV’s all-wheel-drive system.
The Territory launched in Australia with a base price of $38,990 – when the last one was built in October 2016, it was $500 cheaper but significantly improved.
Despite their family resemblance, the Territory was a very different beast to the Falcon. It only shared 76 of its 227 stampings, and the final drive was geared lower. It used a unique double ball joint lower arm, and the steering rack was mounted ahead of the wheels. The bigger kerb weight demanded beefier, larger diameter brakes.
The biggest accolade for the Territory came in 2004 when the Ford Territory became the first-ever SUV to win the coveted Wheels Car of the Year Award. In the years since, only two other SUVs – the Mazda CX-9 and Volvo XC60 – have joined it on the podium.