Journal: You Have A Time Machine, Which Vintage Assembly Line Do You Visit?

You Have A Time Machine, Which Vintage Assembly Line Do You Visit?

Alex Sobran By Alex Sobran
March 2, 2018

To be a fly on the wall—or a bolt on the ground—at a modern automotive assembly line is the kind of experience that prompts some heady thinking about our general progress; the silent precision and the cold acrobatics of robotic arms can be a bit disturbing in their lack of imperfection, and in between the rhythms of efficient work being done one would be forgiven for making Terminator jokes. Automating certain tasks once done with human hands or brains is inevitable, but as we move further into the future, some of the good things are jettisoned off on the way. One such “good thing” is the romanticism of old car factories and these tableaus we’ll never see again.

The clinical perfection of today’s manufacturing plants is something we marvel at in a sort of trance-state aligned to the beats of spot welds and bursts of compressed air, but the rudimentary steps we made toward these places make up the haphazardly beautiful photos in the collection gathered here. The great swinging cranes and rollercoaster-esque facilities in the VW Hannover plant, a Countach on the jig, a Skittles palette of 105-Series Alfas, a row of 512s ready for homologation inspection—these are the kinds of production line tours I wish were plausible. So then, if you could go back and linger in one of these scenes, which would it be? Want to tell Günther he messed up the panel gaps on your 901? Prefer a walk amongst a row of half-Miuras patiently waiting for their V12s assembled nearby? What’s your persuasion?

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Mike FiscusKasper NielsenPaul IpolitoHarv FalkenstinePDXBryan Recent comment authors
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Mike Fiscus
Mike Fiscus

May 14, 1969 @ Chevrolet’s Willow Run Plant while the last Corvairs were coming off the assembly line.

Paul Ipolito
Paul Ipolito

GM Lordstown Assembly Plant 1972 when the air was thick with the smell of marijuana and revolution.

Harv Falkenstine
Harv Falkenstine

Miura production line. 2nd choice, WWII Jeep production.

lambo production.JPG
Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

I’d want to visit the VW factory immediately following WWII as described in the book ‘Small Wonder’. It took amazing resiliency to persevere through unbelievable hardships like bombed out roofs and French troops trying to confiscate crucial production equipment.


That picture of a 911 and a guy with a torch, is he leading?

Rubens Florentino

I would like to see the production of the 429 Boss Mustang at Kar Kraft.
Wich picture above shows the largest number of people trying to fix a single car? Perhaps they would call me to give them a little help.

Paul Ipolito
Paul Ipolito

They were trying to get to the last spark plug on the driver’s side.

Kasper Nielsen

I can’t help but to think of the old joke about how many mechanics is needed to change a lightbulb…
I guess we now can conclude, that changing spark plugs require 7 mechanics + 2 managers to oversee the work.