Honouring the glory days of Australian made cars at Henty

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Paul Biti will celebrate the family’s association with the Ford Falcon across four decades at the Henty Machinery Field Days.

Australia’s love affair with the Ford Falcon will be celebrated by Culcairn’s Biti Motors at the Henty Machinery Field Days.

Motoring history will be depicted with the first Ford Falcon XC sold by the Culcairn dealership when it opened in 1978.

Production of the Australian designed and manufactured Falcon will cease on October 7, with Ford shutting down the Broadmeadows factory and Geelong engine plant.

Biti Motors dealer principal Paul Biti said the Falcon’s demise spelt the end of an era, and brought to a close the 40-year association between the flagship model and Biti Motors.

He said imported vehicles had been progressively introduced over the past decade, resulting in little change at dealership level.

“We have the first XC Ford we ever sold in 1978 – it was traded in at 12 years of age and we kept it,’’ Mr Biti said,

“During the 1980s the Falcon was the most popular family car – the XD model arrived in 1979 and even after all these years, it was the biggest highlight in the history of this business as a Ford dealer.

“The first vehicle arrived and we had to hide it until a certain date – every dealership got one only.

“We had special paper to blank out the windows of the showroom and the car was brought into the showroom at the last minute.

“We sent invitations out to the community and press, and we put on a presentation of the new Falcon and community event for about 200 people.’’

Mr Biti said the Falcon’s popularity was due to its Australian design and engineering.

“They were a universal car able to do family things and towing, but unfortunately people’s wants and lives have changed with that style of car now being close to irrelevant,’’ he said.

Mr Biti has observed people’s tastes in vehicles change during an association with the Henty Machinery Field Days of close to 40 years.

“We take about 16 cars to give a complete range, and try ordering field-day type cars in advance, such as cab-chassis with steel trays,’’ he said.

“The popular models are always the four wheel drives – each year we take a tally of what people are interested in and new model releases rate highly.’’

In some years, the fuel efficient Focus and Fiesta have grabbed the attention of field day patrons.

“In the 1970s and 1980s, we used to have field day specials and sold them off the site,’’ Mr Biti said.

“During the 1990s and 2000s, we rarely sold a car at the field days but in the last six years we have sold cars directly at the event.

“They are sold to people who live within a 100-150km radius and haven’t got a dealership on their doorstep.

“Henty is the most powerful form of advertising we have got for our local community – it’s where we get the most presence or exposure, it reminds people we exist and are not just a building on the corner of Balfour street.’’

Paul serves in a volunteer capacity on the HMFD advisory board.

“It’s good to be able to express an opinion on how the site can grow and change,’’ he said.

“I don’t think the community quite fully appreciates it but I can see huge advantages in having the extra four wheel drive expo as a starting point.

“There is half a dozen organisations who share the profits from catering at the field days, and that money is handy for Culcairn.’’

The family’s involvement with the field days extends back to the early 1960s when dealership founder, Bruno Biti, began working as a mechanic for Four Way Motors, and demonstrated New Holland balers.

Bruno went on to devote his life to the Culcairn community, serving on almost every committee in the town and being awarded the Citizen of the Year and an OAM.

He and wife Lois founded Biti Motors in 1971 as a mechanical workshop in premises behind the Culcairn Hotel before opening as a Ford dealer in 1978.