Monday, September 2, 2013

Flint Postcards: Chevy in the Hole at Night

1 comment:

  1. This comment kind of dove tails with the Chevette discussion below.

    Although Gerry Godin and others may not believe it, Chevrolet Motor Division Plant 4 Master Mechanics continued to be a major engineering think tank of GM well into the 1970s. Ernest Vahala, a GMI grad who had worked with Werner Von Braun after world War II, and who LOVED cars since childhood, was a central figure in the "think tank". Lloyd Reuss and other executives would meet in his unassuming office and discuss the challenges facing GM and how to meet them. Vahala had always been a fan of the 6 cylinder engine, and had fought hard to keep it alive even when gas was cheap and people demanded powerful, though gas guzzling, 8 cylinder engines. When the energy crisis occurred and gas prices soared in the 1970s, these "Big Bang Theory" types discussed the SFC, or Small Family Car, and the engines to be used to get better gas mileage. The 6 cylinder became a dominant, though less powerful engine, and 4 cylinder and even a FIVE (5) cylinder engine were discussed. An $80,000,000 addition was made to the south side of Plant 4, to implement a modern computer aided assembly line. Though it employed relatively few workers, there was enough payroll that when the Roger Smith accounting types took over, it was disassembled and moved to Mexico. Well, it's all gone now, and the story can be told of another historic plant that was abandoned and torn down. From what I have heard, the plant in Mexico has been abandoned now also.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at