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Mound Road Engine Plant

Chrysler acquired the Mound Road Engine Plant as part of the Briggs Manufacturing Company in 1953; from 1955, when it was known as “Plymouth Engine,” it produced engines for Chrysler Corporation, including numerous V8s, a truck V6, and the Viper and truck V10s. The building was close to the Dodge City complex, and next to Mount Elliott Tool and Die.

machining V8 engines

After Chrysler refitted the plant, it was the most advanced engine manufacturing plant in the country. Legendary engineer Willem Weertman recalled:

It was in 1954 when a new engine plant was being planned for Plymouth where Plymouth would produce its own V-8 engine. The chief engineer of the Plymouth resident engineering staff, I'm pretty sure it was Bob Anderson at the time, asked me if I would consider becoming the resident engineer of this new plant that was going to be erected and was just in the planning stage. I said “yes,” I said I don’t know that much about details about engines, we had engine work during our Chrysler Institute classes but I said I would be very glad to do it. And so I transferred and I became the first resident engineer of what would be the Plymouth Mound Road Engine Plant. ... It was like a brand new plant although we were using space that had been used to do war work.

A 1956 article noted that the state of the art machinery of the plant cut physical effort and scrap, while increasing quality and safety. The factory employed 2,949 people at that time, all making V8s; Plymouth engine production as a whole employed 6,533 people in January 1956.

mound road engine plant

Mound Road labelThe Plymouth V8 A-engine started production at the Mound Road Engine Plant in July 1955. The new engines shared little with the Hemi-based Poly-head V8; since Plymouth’s sales were far larger than Dodge or Chrysler, and pricing was lower, the A-type V8 engines needed to be made far more quickly at the new Mound Road engine plant. The Dodge and Chrysler engines, with smaller volumes, were not necessarily engineered with high-speed production in mind. However, Dodge was soon using its own A-engines from Mound Road, as well.

A few years later, a lightweight version with numerous improvements, the LA V8, started production; it would continue at Mound Road until the end, and would spawn V-10 and V-6 variants.

In 1977, Mound Road modernized their 318 line, added new machining lines, and increased floor space by 97,200 square feet.

In 1986, the 3.9 liter overhead-valve V6 engine, based on the LA V8 engine family, started production at Mound Road for the 1987 Dodge Dakota. In 1990, there were just 1,400 employees; the plant had, since its opening, built 15,904,041 engines and 3.8 million rear wheel drive propshafts.

pistonsThe factory, which by 1997 encompassed 956,000 square feet, was at 20300 Mound Road, Detroit, in Michigan; it covered nearly 40 acres and employed over 2,000 people, with 34,000 training hours scheduled for 1998 and a $133 million payroll. Annual taxes were $700,000. Just three robots were used.

The Mound Road plant was closed in 2002, its production moved to Mack Avenue (V-10s had moved to Conner Avenue in 2001); it was torn down in 2003, paved over, and used as a storage lot for Warren Truck.

It was memorialized by the naming of a local hardcore/metal rock band, which calls itself “Mound Road engine” (as of 2010).


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