The U.S. auto industry may have climbed back from the Carpocalypse, but it's still liquidating much of its old pieces, from forklifts to entire factories. David Traver Adolphus of Hemmings Blog shows what's on the block.
I never thought about it, but it makes sense that Chrysler, GM and to a lesser extent, Ford, would be unloading major assets as they slim down and scratch around for cash. Taking expensive facilities off the books is a classic way to look more profitable than you actually are.
But since I hadn't been paying attention, I had no idea of the scale of the liquidation. It's not just pieces, but entire plants being offered – engines, transmissions, bodies – everything. In fact, with a little ingenuity and several billion dollars of working capital (surely there's a way to extract what those dolts at Cerberus stripped from Chrysler?), you could be in business.
Let's start with the basics: Iron and steel. For that, you want GM supplier Fort
Waylon Weezer Wayne Foundry? Conveniently located just off I-69 outside of Fort Wayne, I'm not 100% clear on what an eight-station Geneva drive dial machine with 80-inch Allen Bradley PanelView 1000 controls does, but they've got a bunch of them. And robots. Lots and lots of robots, and we do know that you can never have too many of those.
People get all the attention, but has anyone considered how many of these things have been laid off? If there's one thing we've learned, it's that an army of unemployed robots is trouble.
For power, may I suggest the 3.5-liter Chrysler V6? Kenosha Engine includes the complete, turnkey line, with production rights, along with full tooling for the 2.7 and - hold your breath, AMC nuts - 4.0. I think Dan has already left with a flatbed. There are engines on the line, and it'd be fun to poke around in the corners and see what's left over from the Kaiser days, and earlier.
Alternately, you could go with 4.6-liter V8 Northstar power, from GM Livonia Powertrain, which includes most of the Gen IV engine line. The advantage to that setup is it can be configured for front or rear-wheel drive. Livonia was only employing 120 people when it got the axe, though, so you might want to pick up a couple of loads of Chrysler robots to fill in. Alternately: Robot gladiators.
If you're really looking for high performance, one of the few Ford offerings is the 5.4 and 6.2-liter Triton line at Essex Engine in Windsor, Ontario. The on-again, off-again facility produces the 3.5-liter V6 – and 5.0, too, so getting in now might give you a leg up on those when the whole thing gets the axe in 2014.
You'll make your transmissions at the Willow Run powertrain plant in Ypsilanti. It's set up for 480TE Hydramatic four-speeds, but with about 4,000 recently unemployed, skilled laborers available, the six-speed they never built there should be possible.
For the rear end, you can't go wrong with a Dana 44, or perhaps the Chrysler 8-1/4 for lighter applications, although you'll want to strengthen the 27-spline output if you use the latter. Pick up the tooling for those, and others, at Detroit Axle.
You'll have your choice of bodies, and you don't even have to worry about hiring a designer, because GM's PCC West (Pontiac, Mich.) prototyping facility includes a lovely selection of scale Cadillac concepts, like Evoq and Sixteen. You'll be set up to build your own there, too. Heck, it even includes the DJ equipment for your Detroit show debut.
To produce bodies, you could pick up one of the many domestic stamping plants. But I suggest also outsourcing to Europe, so you can sell cars there, too. You'll want the Opel and Vauxhall press lines in Russelsheim, Germany; Ellesmere Port, England, and Zaragoza, Spain.
Putting it all together calls for a versatile, state-of-the-art facility, and that means NUMMI, the former joint GM/Toyota New United Motors plant in Fremont, Calif. The completely equipped 5.2-million square foot factory can produce about 400,000 cars and trucks a year, although I'm not sure if you get Tesla as a tenant as well, as they were talking about manufacturing there. I'm thinking they're SOL on this one.
You don't have to follow my suggestions, of course. It's à la carte, and there are at least 15 plants currently for sale, along with literally hundreds of smaller properties and many more to come over the next five years.
GM's Buick City in Flint. How much do you want this bad boy?
And then there are all the Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, to make your pistons, interior fabrics, wiring harnesses and lamps. A sale like this won't come again, so act now and take this limited time opportunity to own a genuine piece of American heritage: Our automobile manufacturing capability! Because when it's gone, it's gone.
This story originally appeared in Hemmings Blog on Aug. 9. Want to see your work here? Email us with the subject line "Submissions"