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by Randy Knox
These photos were sent by Randy Knox; they were taken and issued by
the Hughes Aircraft Company media services, and show the conversion of the El Segundo, California, Nash factory built in 1948 to a Hughes missile assembly and testing facility.
Unlike Studebaker and Ford, whose plants in Long Beach and Pico Rivera were both titled “Los Angeles,” Nash actually called their plant “El Segundo” (not that it was near Los Angeles) for the city it was in [Chrysler also had a plant called “Los Angeles,” in this case in City of Commerce.] The factory started taking applications for jobs on October 16, 1948, with a newspaper ad in the Long Beach Independent advertising for “spot welders, metal finishers, torch solderers, welding equipment operators, trimmers, spray painters.”
The Administration building was at the end of the manufacturing
building (the aerial photo shows it at the bottom right). It's still
in use but is now physically connected to the big building which is
where Boeing now builds satellites.
Years ago I was in a conference
room on the second floor of that old Admin building looking for a projector and opened a door. Behind the door was a stairway I took that led down into the cafeteria kitchen. That conference room was the AMC executive lunch room.
This exit end of the building - where the finished cars came out - is named Nash Avenue.
According to Boeing’s Web site, “in 1955, Hughes purchased the 500,000-square-foot facility for $3
million and methodically began its evolution from an automobile
manufacturing plant to today's Boeing Integration and Test Complex.”
1985 the Hughes Aircraft Company, then wholly owned by the Howard
Hughes Medical Foundation, was purchased by General Motors for $5.2
billion and renamed GM Hughes Electronics with Delco being folded
into the new company. The defense business (airborne radar,
missiles, etc.) was later spun off and merged into an new company formed
with Raytheon, Texas Instruments Defense Systems and E-Systems and
called Raytheon (GM refused to release the Hughes name which was the
preferred new corporate name). This spin-off netted GM about $10
billion. The remaining businesses in GM Hughes were the Hughes
Communications satellite operations and DirecTV. In 1990, GM sold the satellite business to Boeing who
renamed the company Boeing Space Systems and a few years later sold
DirecTV to News Corp. who recently sold it to Liberty Mutual Communications.
The old Nash building is producing both commercial satellites and
classified satellites and is owned by Boeing Space Systems.
Some interesting tidbits: The Ford Pico Rivera plant was bought by
Northrup and that is where the B2 Bomber was developed. They had a
full-sized mock-up of the plane in a high-bay area to show
Congressmen and other people with the appropriate security
clearances. I got to see it while on negotiations there because
Hughes built the radar system for that vehicle.
My father was a body painter at the Long Beach Studebaker plant in
1948-49 and he told me there was a lot of rework on the cars before
they left the plant as the steel was too hard for the draw (the heavy
round bend of the metal) on the front fenders and many of them
cracked requiring metal finishing and repainting. I still have my father's
Perry wrote, “I remember walking on the catwalks in the big building, which must have been where the assembly line was. There used to be this ramp on one of the buildings that had old photos of the cars coming off the line. I also recall hearing stories of people finding car parts long after Nash had sold the place (who knows how true that is). At least the street is still called Nash.”
Here are some photos of the plant after the conversion:
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