Journal: Have You Ever Been To The Factory Where Your Car Was Made?

Have You Ever Been To The Factory Where Your Car Was Made?

By Ted Gushue
January 22, 2016
16 comments

I’m one of the lucky ones.

In 2015, I was invited by Audi to journey across the Atlantic to Ingolstadt, home of quattro and so much more. It was a chicken and the egg scenario however, as I didn’t yet own an Audi. The trip had been arranged on behalf of U.S.–based media who would be shown an early look at the 2016 S3 Sedan, and a chance to belt it out on the Autobahn before anyone else in America.

And belt it, I did.

Comfortably, on snow tires, I hit 153 mph. A feat that, in hindsight, was incredibly foolish…but at the time, a semi-lethal cocktail of jet lag and German-engineered caffeine made me feel rather invincible.

It was this seminal experience: my first trip on various Autobahnen, my first trip to a factory that made automobiles at that scale, and it was without question an influence on my decision to purchase an A3. It’s been three months into ownership as my second car in Los Angeles, and I haven’t looked back.

Jump into the comments below and share your stories of pilgrimages to automotive mecca—lord knows a few of you must have awesome tales.

Image sources: blogspot.com330gt.comautomotiveviewsquattroworld.com
inautonews.com

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Robert Hiermeier
Robert Hiermeier
6 years ago

I own a 2011 BMW 325I Coupe with the “M” package and a 6 speed manual. In November 2014 my son and I visited the BMW plant in Regansburg, Germany where they produce some 3 series, I was told that if my car was not produced here that it could have been made at the Munich plant. I have searched my car and can’t seem to find out what plant did it come out from.
The visit, however was very interesting and enjoyable.

Robert Hiermeier
Robert Hiermeier
6 years ago

Sorry it’s 328I NOT 325I (typo error)

Andrew Salt
Andrew Salt
6 years ago

Unfortunately I have to answer “no” to title question.

I have a TVR. It was made in the ‘kiss me quick’ UK seaside holiday town of Blackpool. The factory buildings are still there but the original company has long since gone. Several ex-employees started up their own small businesses looking after TVR cars – trim shop, paint shop, etc, and I believe they are doing well, so it is still possible to have a look around and get a feel for the place. The good news is that TVR has been reborn. A new supercar should hit the streets of Blighy soon. I don’t yet know where the factory will be, but I will do my best to get a tour in the fulness of time. At least I would be able to claim I have a TVR (although a 1st gen model) when I do.

Richard Harrold
Richard Harrold
6 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Salt

The Blackpool factory has been bulldozed. I also don’t believe a word Les Edgar says. TVR is history, and will remain so.

Pkrall
Pkrall
6 years ago

I made a trip to the Land Rover factory to see their commemoration of the Defender line. The staff were true enthusiasts and did everything possible to welcome us. We got to see the difference between production of modern Jaguar/Land Rover products and the Defender. The Defender production line used modern methods where it made sense but retained much hand work. You could really see how it had evolved from the Series trucks. The new models were assembled by robots and then zipped around the factory overhead.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay
6 years ago

I was fortunate to visit the Swift Engineering facilities back in the early ’90s when they were still designing and fabricating racing cars. They had just designed and built the most advanced wind tunnel in North America and were still dialing it in. Fun stuff for sure.

Samir Shirazi
Samir Shirazi
6 years ago

I have been in many small factories with hand built cars all around: GT40 or Cobra replica factory in Australia

Greg Horwitz
Greg Horwitz
6 years ago

I am lucky enough to work as a Joining Engineer for Ford Motor Company. I spend my work days in the Truck Body Shop at both Dearborn Truck Plant and Kansas City Truck Plant where every single, all aluminum, F-150 is built. It is absolutely amazing how these vehicles are assemble without welding.

Dont be fooled, these all aluminum trucks are extremely strong and built to last. Everyone takes pride in the product we build. Every day is an adventure to produce more than 70 trucks per hour!

emmanuel pont
emmanuel pont
6 years ago

In 1996, I went to England and visited Malvern Link, more a “workshop” than a “factory” where Morgans were built. At this time I was a student, and had only dreams about this car, because of a big lack of money !!
I had to wait nearly 20 years and I bought my Mog’ just last year, a 1964 4/4 “Competition”.
It is at this time the only factory I visited, but as the dream came true, I wish I did not visit the Bugatti’s Molsheim plant !

Martin Philippo
Martin Philippo
6 years ago

It is very quiet in the factory.
I drive Saab.

Jason Cayde
Jason Cayde
6 years ago

Yeah, but at least the museum is still alive and well there. I wanna see if they saved any clones of my 9-5.

Karmann in Rheine is also defunct if I recall, so I won’t be seeing my VW Cabriolet’s home either. That leaves Ford Chicago for my Explorer, which could be fun. I guess.

Jim Rzegocki
Jim Rzegocki
6 years ago

In late 1999, I got really lucky in the stock market and found myself with $110K in cash as a result. What did I do? Why I bought 2 cars with it! Being happily married for 22 years at the time, I bought my wife a car first (an Audi A6 2.7T) and then bought myself a sports car.
I got an Oxford Green 2000 BMW M Roadster which I purchased from BMW Seattle, but arranged to pick up at the factory where it was made in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It was a great trip. My then 21-year-old son and I flew down to SC and were picked up at the airport by the BMW folks who whisked us off to the hotel for dinner and a sleep.
After breakfast the next morning they picked us up for our day’s adventure which included three stops; a tour of the factory where they were making all the Z3s in the world (at the time, though they have since switched over to the X series) and the Zentrum attached to it, a chance to beat on their M Roadsters at their track, and then delivery of my new baby in the mid-afternoon. The factory was pretty cool and it was interesting to see all of those Z3s in various stages of assembly. It gave me a new appreciation for the complexity involved in building cars on that scale. Soon enough we were out of the factory and museum and off to the track where we got put in a bright yellow M Roadster and got the chance to put it through a series of driver training maneuvers (quick lane change, wet skidpad, ABS ‘stab and steer’ practice, etc). After lunch in their cafeteria we ambled on down to a delivery bag where my dark green metallic beauty rested. It seemed to take forever for the guy to explain all the stuff to me, but eventually he handed me the keys and I backed it out of the bay and we took off.
The best part?
We were all the way across the country and now had to drive it home to Seattle! Because we had relatives spread fairly conveniently across the southern tier of the US, I had made plans for overnight stays with four of them. Also, I had decided that we would, inspired by William Least Heat Moon, travel the Blue Highways, the two lane wonders of America rather than the Interstates.
So, for next 11 days and 5,500 miles Francis and I drove some of the most amazing two lane roads in America. On my first full day of ownership, after breakfast and saying goodbye to my cousin in Gastonia, NC, we headed for Deal’s Gap and the Tail of the Dragon. Perfect break-in road for a new car; mostly 2nd and 3rd gear corners, no need for WOT, and constantly varying engine speeds. I think we drove that road 4 times, twice for each of us, before we decided to push on.
Other highlights of the trip? Route 89A leading down into Sedona, Arizona from Flagstaff, the Angeles Crest Highway heading up out of the LA basin, most of the Oregon Coast. We had a great time and it all started with a visit to the factory.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay
6 years ago

I’m making my car in my garage. Does that count?

Tom DesRochers
Tom DesRochers
6 years ago

I have not been there yet, but the VIN indicates Kansas City is the plant I need to visit.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
6 years ago

I visited Maranello during the 1997 50th Anniversary celebrations. The factory was opened up for the participants in the event one evening after work had finished for the day, and we were largely free to wander around. Most fascinating site was at the back of the factory where all the crash test cars and presumably preproduction cars where piled up waiting to be scrapped. it is quite a site to see 550s, 355, 456 bodies all piled on top of one another. Unfortunately (if not surprisingly) no cameras were allowed in.