Some Assembly Required
Have you visited an automotive assembly plant?
I have been to several, but sadly, we’re in the age of robotics and just-in-time delivery for everything, and even when a line is running at full tilt there doesn’t seem to be much going on. Not what you may expect from a factory, at least.
My childhood idea of an assembly line is a dark-ish, industrial building that features sparks everywhere, hot vats of things that will kill, salty language, and gigantic steel presses that could flatten anything into abstract art. On the floor? Grease, old rags, metal shavings, and what’s-that-green-fluid.
The closest factory to what I describe must be the AM General plant in South Bend, Indiana. Not the one nearby where Hummer H2s were made (that one was boring), but the full-fat HMMWV and, for a time, the Hummer H1. Burly workers had to actually carry its lightweight aluminum body at times, there were sparks, and there was even grease on the floor!
From Ford’s revolutionary River Rouge complex to the “Transparent Factory” that Volkswagen built in downtown Dresden, Germany, automotive assembly plants have gone through a huge amount of transformation, transformation in step with the vehicles produced.
Modern cars may be born in spotless factories, but it wasn’t always that way. This Friday, take a moment to appreciate the sweat and (possibly) blood that went into making your classic car…