Windsor Assembly Plant: 1975 Cordobas and Chargers

Retired Chrysler Canada photographer Larry Monkhouse provided us with these photos, taken in 1975, showing Chrysler Cordobas and Dodge Chargers being built. Thanks to the guys at autoworker.net for identifying many of these photos, to Rick and Randy for the caption on the first photo, to Gerard Drouillard for getting more information about how the factory worked from his father, and to the Cordoba Club USA’s Dave Todd for further details and corrections.

Mike Walker pointed out that the car above is actually a Charger; the Cordoba Club’s Dave Todd pointed out that the Charger SE was distinguished by its vertical bar grille, hood ornament, body side trim, and quarter window louvers.  

Body shell turning a corner

Gerard Drouillard’s father wrote:

The successive series of assembly were as follows:

Stub frame assembly and front wheel brake and drum, axle drop and drive shaft, then the engine line married to the stub frame mainline and the engine was dropped into the stub frame. One person on each side would slide the rear axle and align the drive shaft into the tail stock of the trany that was already attached to the engine on the engine line.

Then came the body drop that sometimes got expensive. If you got a scheduling mismatch such as a manual transmission going under a body that called for an automatic, you had a shifter stub sticking up on the trany and no receiver hole in the body floor pan. Supervisor would stop the line, grab a torsion bar a whack the trany cast iron mount off, leaving a big hole in the trany. In heavy repair you replaced the trany and if required, you cut the appropriate hole in the floor pan.

If you had a stub frame or a body missing you had a real ball game. The best scenario was to have a body missing, I would have the stock deptartment move a couple of pallets away from the line and have the millwrights with their heavy long forks pick the stub with the engine off the buck at the appropriate spot that married the missing body from the highline. In that case I would not have to write a letter and attended a meeting after the shift as supervisor in (9301 and 02) stub frame.

9303 was Engine Line, 9304 Body Drop, 9305 was Flat Line up to Tire Drop. I also had the Tire Room upstairs to schedule the right tires and wheel to the vehicle.

putting fenders on

Stewbox wrote: “This is the stub frame line, just before the body drop... this area is where the motors were dropped, and exhausts, leaf springs, axles, etc. were put on. I always called it the sub-frame, but it could have easily been called the axle line or something else. I would compare it to the kukka now.”

Joe Gallant wrote: “I think the guy on the left is Larry Quinn; last time I saw him, he worked in the BIW. I think he’s retired now.”

subframe

Stewbox wrote: “This is the body drop where the body was dropped on to the stub frame. The car that just passed looks to me like a Plymouth Valiant, which we built as well.”

Gerard Drouillard’s father wrote:

Some of the auxiliary incidentals to all this scheduling stuff was engine dress up to have certain equipment on the right or left side as we also built right hand drive vehicles for Europe, (also fun at the body drop) and how what distance the downshift rod was adjusted to for overdrive if the driver floored it, (what style of trany). You could really make her roar on a six pack or a Holley quad.

body drop

Stewbox wrote: “Looks like hanging doors and bolting them, rough job.” “Retired02” wrote, “Guy with the fancy striped pance is Roland from Body-in-White.” (d)

hanging doors

Dave Todd believes the following photo is from a later time, as it uses the square-headlamp 1978-1979 body.

windsor factory

Operating from above and below: the worker on top has fluid fill among his responsibilities (Dave Todd noted the metal-tipped rubber fill hose hanging shoulder-level in the background.)

Spot welding. Dave Todd wrote, “ You’d have to check with one of the folks who worked assembly at the time, but this appears to be an off-line station for the sub-assembly of the quarter panel skin (see parts in left side of background) and the rear wheel inner (see stack of parts in the foreground).”

“Midliner” wrote: “Looks like the old soldering booth. Notice the lack of face masks.”

soldering booth

The metal finishing area, where the metal was checked for defects before going to the dip tanks. (Thanks, Randy H.)

Spot welding the front cowls — thanks, Randy H.

Rudy Skyers’ father spot welding the front cowls — thanks, Randy H. and “Retired02.”

spot welding the front cowls

Spray painting — thanks, Randy H.

spray painting

A member of autoworker.net wrote: “The ‘Tram’ is still used today. Headlights are aimed up top, and alignment is set under the car (note the stairwell going underground to the right of the worker). I believe TRAM stands for Tie Rod Alignment Machine.” (24)

final check

Rick wrote: “This picture shows two cars on the rolls test at end of final. That operation is still there but has been expanded to five rolls with booths.”

final cordoba assembly

Making minivans in 2016 and other Windsor photos

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