Willow Run Assembly

Willow Run Business Center (the former Willow Run Assembly), 2011

This article covers the GM assembly plant built in 1959; for the general history of the Willow Run complex, see the main article.

Willow Run Assembly was a General Motors automobile factory near Ypsilanti, Michigan, located at 2625 Tyler Road, in the Willow Run manufacturing complex. Willow Run Assembly consisted of an assembly plant of 2.1 million square feet, another building that was known in later years as Willow Run Company Vehicle Operations, covering 23,000 square feet on 22 acres of land, and perhaps other parcels. Willow Run Assembly was to the south of the former Willow Run Transmission, the site of the bomber plant built by Ford in 1941.[1]

Production of automobiles began at Willow Run in 1959 with the Chevrolet Corvair; Willow Run also built the Chevrolet Nova (1962-1979) and X-bodies (1980-1985). Corvairs were assembled at Willow Run during the car's entire 10-year production run. On May 14, 1969, the media was invited to Willow Run as the last Corvair came down the line; a departure from GM's policy of not permitting reporters to visit their manufacturing facilities.

In 1968, General Motors began reorganizing its body and assembly operations into the GM Assembly Division (GMAD). GMAD required 16 years to completely absorb Fisher Body's operations, and Fisher would manufacture bodies at Willow Run until the 1970s. Assembly operations at Willow Run ended in 1992 after a reduction in demand for the full-size B-bodies of the time. Operations were transferred to the new Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly and Orion Assembly.

What was the main plant at Willow Run Assembly had by 2010 become a giant warehouse, the Willow Run Business Center, part of which was leased to GM for use as a parts distribution facility.[2] Willow Run Company Vehicle Operations became part of the abandoned GM properties managed by the RACER Trust in March 2011; in April 2013, RACER sold the Company Vehicle Operations facility to International Turbine Industries, an engine maintenance and repair company headquartered across Tyler Road from the former assembly plant.[1]

Chevrolet Assembly (pre-General Motors Assembly Division circa 1965)

Plants operated under Chevrolet Assembly management prior to General Motors Assembly Division management (most established pre-1945). Additional Chevrolet Assembly plants were located at Buffalo, New York and Oakland, California. Framingham, Massachusetts is unusual in that it changed from Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac Assembly management to Chevy management prior to becoming GMAD.

The terminology is confusing because most plants assembled more than just Chevrolet or B-O-P, and refers to the management structure only. The five brands originated vehicles from their respective "home" plants, where vehicles were assembled locally for their respective regions. Vehicles were also produced in "knock-down" kits and sent to the branch assembly locations. The "home" branches were Flint, Michigan for both Buick and Chevrolet; Oldsmobile at Lansing, Michigan; Pontiac at Pontiac, Michigan; and Cadillac at Detroit, Michigan.[3]

See also


  1. 1 2 Stafford, Katrease (April 2, 2013). "GM Willow Run plant redevelopment: Aircraft maintenance firm buys 1 building". AnnArbor.com. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  2. "InSite Signs 568,000 SF Lease". press release. InSite Real Estate. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  3. http://vcca.org/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/99892/Re_Fisher_Body_Company

External links

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