2001 marks the 10th anniversary of Tickford Vehicle Engineering (TVE) -- and the ongoing marriage of Ford and Tickford, one of the most successful performance car partnerships in Australian motoring history.
In 1990, Ford Australia started a worldwide search to find the best performance engineering firm to create a new performance arm for Ford.
The ideal partner was found in Tickford, a long-established UK company synonymous with high quality engineering for almost a century and with performance engineering for several decades.
The Australian operation was headed by Englishman David Flint, who quickly established a group of highly skilled engineers from Australia and Europe to form the nucleus of what soon became one of the country's most respected performance engineering companies, which opened its doors in August 1991.
Within a few months of moving into its Campbellfield premises, Tickford engineers transformed the EB range of Falcons and Fairlanes with upgraded handling packages. Next, they worked their magic on the Capri roadster and created the stunning Capri Clubsprint. The new assembly lines also added factory-fitted sunroof options and, later, LPG conversions for Ford product.
For the 25th anniversary of the famed Falcon GT in 1992, Tickford built 265 EB GT Falcons that quickly became collectors' items. The XR6 and XR8 Falcons soon followed, launched to universal acclaim from the motoring press as the best handling Falcons yet produced.
The XR series extended to include station wagons and utilities in 1993, a year that also saw the launch of a special XR8 Sprint model.
Ford racing star John Bowe joined TVE as a consultant in 1996. His considerable input was realised in the 1997 release of the famous 'Darth Vader' EL GT, with its in-your-face styling and superb handling and performance from a Tickford-tweaked V8 now producing 200 kW.
The burgeoning ranks of Tickford car clubs were recognised the same year, when David Flint instituted the first Tickford Open Day, enabling club members and enthusiasts to witness first hand the precision of the TVE manufacturing operation. Now annual, the open days have grown in popularity, with several thousand people going through the gates at the 2001 event.
Ford Tickford Racing was formed in 1999, taking over the race team of former touring car champion Glenn Seton to contest the Shell V8 Supercar Championship Series. This move complemented the launch of the Ford Tickford Engineering range of high-performance 220 kW T-Series Falcons and Fairlanes and the establishment of FTE dealer outlets.
In 2000, TVE added production lines for the re-engineering and right-hand drive conversion of the new Mustang Cobra range.
Continued customer demand for more power saw TVE up the power of the AU XR8 range to 220 kW. More than 20 of these engines roll off the line each day, each one individually built by one of 18 technicians. Each engine bears a nameplate signed with pride by the technician who built it.
In 2001, Tickford's UK parent was taken over by the Prodrive organisation ? the motorsport and automotive technology company responsible for Ford's championship-winning Mondeo touring cars ? to become an integral part of a $250 million worldwide performance engineering operation.
2001 is ending on a high for TVE with the launch of the T3 range of T-Series Falcons and Fairlanes, boasting 250 kW and 500 Nm from a 5.6-litre stroked version of the venerable 5.0-litre Windsor V8. The powerful new engine found a home in a bold new Series III Falcon XR8 with an aggressive bodykit unashamedly taking styling cues from the Falcon V8 Supercar.
From a modest beginning with a staff of just four, Tickford Vehicle Engineering has grown to become a highly respected company with 160 employees and carving a reputation for total commitment to the highest standards of performance engineering.
"The first 10 years have been great," says Managing Director David Flint who has remained in charge of the company since its inception.
"I'm really looking forward to the next 10 years though, with Prodrive as the majority shareholder and Ford's new direction under President Geoff Polites. I'm going to thoroughly enjoy seeing the partnership go from strength to strength.
"In fact, you could say the first 10 years were just for practice. The next 10 will be the real game ? and it will be an absolute sell out!"