The mood was assuredly grim at GM’s Lansing Car Assembly plant as the sense of foreboding engulfed the workers when the last Oldsmobile Alero rolled off the line. Not only was it the last Alero, it was the last Oldsmobile made. Ever. It was the end of an era for the longest running American car manufacturer/brand, and the 4tholdest in the world. An era that spanned an astonishing 107 years and 35 million vehicles.
Shockingly swift – but not surprising to the auto workers employed there – only a year later the same Lansing plant rolled the last Pontiac Grand Am off the line. Not only was it the last Grand Am, it was the last vehicle to be assembled in that plant. Ever. History repeated.
If the mood had been grim the prior year as Oldsmobile gasped it’s last breath, the event celebrating the last car to roll of the line on May 5, 2005 would have made a state funeral seem downright festive at what was recognized as the most productive assembly plant in North America.
Plant Manager Amy Farmer cheerfully presented the final vehicle produced at the plant beneath a sign that said “Lansing Car Assembly Employees…Always the Best!” She enthusiastically noted all of the smiles, and hugs and handshakes that were going on, as the video cut away to the motionless, expressionless, and dumbstruck workers standing in a group, collectively considering what lay before them.
At the 8 minute mark of the event in the youtube video below, there’s a cutaway to one particularly burly worker who, after listening to the UAW representative thanking everyone at the plant for helping him get where he is in life, looks as though he’s trying to figure out exactly how much pressure he’d have to apply to that reps head in order to fit it in the can of diet Coke he’s holding.
I’d like to add that it was only 5 years later that Pontiac was likewise relegated to the dustbin of history.
While pointing out the somewhat tragic end to two major auto marques doesn’t seem like the best approach to helping someone sell their car, it’s my belief that the human story behind the machine is what makes these machines come alive. So it’s with this ending that we are pointed back to the beginning, to the man who in my opinion had possibly the best and most unique name in the whole car industry.
Founded in 1897, the Olds Motor Vehicle Co. shortly thereafter became the first company to mass-produce gasoline powered cars in what then was high volume, producing 635 cars in 1902. In order to accomplish such a feat Olds developed the first assembly line, which Henry Ford later capitalized on by putting assembly lines into motion.
In 1904, our old buddy Olds was off on another adventure, leaving Olds Motor Vehicle Co. and in 1905 started REO Motor Car Company (after Ransom E. Olds) which made cars and trucks until it was finally sold and merged out of existence in 1967. As an interesting side-note, the band REO Speedwagon was named after the light truck of the same name produced by REO. Even the logo of the truck was adopted by the band.
That Ransom Olds sure left a mark, and a marque. Or two.
The legacy he left behind includes this fabulous 1964 Cutlass F-85 resto-mod. This attractive maroon over white interior sporty coupe has a gorgeous big block 455, a turbo 400 auto trans, Foose wheels, A/C, Power front disk/rear drum brakes, Power steering and stereo system.
The asking price for this beautiful example of a fantastic piece of history is $30,000 and the seller is interested in taking specific trades. You can see the original listing HERE on craigslist to find out more information. The folks at the Lansing Car Assembly plant would be proud.
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