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Earlier this summer, we posted a route for people who want to see as many Chrysler plants as they can, from the outside at least. It goes by the General Motors engineering center.
Christopher J. Carpenter and David Zatz took the tour just after the 2011 CEMA meet (Jim Choate was set to go as well, but was called home at the last minute). Our notes are in the blue boxes.
This is where we started our 2011 trip, meeting for breakfast at Robert’s Family Dining, on Van Dyke in Utica — it’s half a mile down Van Dyke after you get off Route 59.
It was Sunday, so we went into the SHAP public parking area, did a quick photo shoot of our loaner Chrysler 200 at its home plant, and took a photo or two of their own Chrysler 200 and the front entrance before moving on. The signs have been replaced, but they’re still quite small — Ford’s are immense, and we wonder why Chrysler doesn’t seem to want the free advertising.
We completely missed the Center Line parts facility, never did see Helen Street. So now we have more hints: start looking for Helen after you go under 696. Helen Street comes after Bernice and before Dale. It comes after Ed Rinke’s GM dealership. If you miss it and find yourself around Voerner, Gronow, etc, just make a right onto any of those streets, and another right up Lawrence Street.
Wise people who are somewhat less than completely dedicated to this adventure should now make a right turn onto 8 Mile Road, then the fourth right onto Mound Road, to go past Warren Truck / Dodge City (pick up directions below to also hit Conner Avenue). Fools and fans like us, however, may... at their own risk, since the neighborhoods get risky...
This is where we got lost, partly because the original directions were not especially clear. So instead...
This is a rather nice area, with a divided avenue. We stopped across from Mt. Elliott Tool & Die, got out of the car, took some photos, and left again. Actually we parked on a side street opposite the plant and then made a second U-turn to get back on the road.
There were a large number of vehicles around the plant, mainly Rams, indicating that perhaps delivery services are still running behind schedule.
Keeping going north up Mound Road to —
This is a long route that takes you through some very bad neighborhoods and you probably shouldn’t do it. You may wish to visit Trenton Engine and skip Plymouth Road, though it’s a long drive to get to Trenton, too.
Chris decided to go via navigation system, given the issues we’d had earlier. I understand his reasoning but for whatever reason, we went through some pretty desolate neighborhoods, past burned-out row houses that had not been recovered or boarded up, — albeit uneventfully. As we went down the main road into Dearborn, the neighborhood gradually improved to the point where we stopped for lunch at a chain restaurant.
Probably the most attractive of any currently visible Chrysler site is the Plymouth Road Office Complex, six miles away. It was the Kelvinator factory, then a Nash factory, and ended up as the Jeep-Truck engineering center before Cerberus put it up for sale, moving the engineers there into the CTC (which DBAG and Cerberus had emptied out).
We spent a lot of time in Trenton trying to find Trenton North, which of course is in the same lot as Trenton South. It’s a nice little city and refreshing after some of the areas we drove through during the day.
Other area attractions: Meadowbrook, home of one of the Dodge Brothers’ widows (near Auburn Hills); the Henry Ford historical village in Dearborn, which has Edison’s very well reconstructed laboratory; the National Automotive Historical Collection; and far, far more.
Techs and Workers
Chrysler 1904-2018 •
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