By Andrew Ganz
Thursday, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 4:35 am
 
Ford Motor Company's - and, perhaps, the industry's - most venerable design will cease production later today in St. Thomas, Ontario, when the last vehicle to ride on the automaker's Panther platform rolls off the line.

Ford will officially close the plant, located just outside of St. Thomas in the tiny burg of Talbotville, this afternoon. Opened in 1967, the facility has built Panther platform vehicles - the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car - since the early 1980s.

It was the platform's age that cemented Ford's decision to cease production, even though sales remain strong primarily to fleet buyers. Earlier this year, Ford closed out its Mercury line when it ended production of the Grand Marquis and now Lincoln is losing its largest sedan, the Town Car.

Not only will the closure mark the end for the body-on-frame sedans that have been a part of the American landscape since the dawn of the motor vehicle, the plant's closure will affect about 15,000 jobs in Southwestern Ontario.

Ford says that it has no plans to reduce production at any of its other Ontario assembly plants, but the Canadian Auto Workers plant estimates the job loss damage at about 15,000 between the 1,100 assembly line workers at the Talbotville plant and its various suppliers.