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History of the Ford Plant

The first car built at the Wayne Assembly Plant coming off the production line on October 1, 1952. Photos courtesy of the Wayne Historical Museum.

It was announced in August 1950 that Ford would build a new plant just west of Wayne in what was then Nankin Township. The new plant would be built on the Stellwagen farm, on the south side of Michigan Avenue. The Stellwagen’s had come from Germany in the 1850s and settled there, the farm remaining in the family for about 100 years. The corn crops growing in the fields had to hurriedly be harvested because bulldozers were on the way.
In 1952 Wayne Assembly opened, with 33 acres under one roof and employing 4,300 people. They built Lincoln and Mercury cars, with the first Mercury Montclair rolling out on October 1, 1952. Capacity was 640 cars per day, as this was still the era of hand welding, grinding and painting cars.
In 1957 the Lincoln line moved to Novi, and in 1958 it was announced the Edsel would be made at Wayne Assembly. Going back a bit to 1955 it was announced a second plant would be built west of the current one, to accommodate the huge rise in station wagon sales. In 1957 the station wagon plant opened, making the Mercury Colony Park, and employing 700 people.
In 1959 station wagon sales slumped, so the plant was shut down until 1964. In that year the Station Wagon plant was added onto and became the F-100 series plant making pickup trucks.
In the meantime, in 1960 Wayne became a city and annexed the western part of the city from the Railroad viaduct to Hannan Road. Ford tried to fight this, preferring the lower taxes of the township, but ultimately lost. In 1964 the first F-100 truck rolled off the line, and in 1965 the 100,000th truck, and the first Bronco.
In the 1970s the car plant was retooled for smaller compact cars due to the energy crisis, producing the Comet and the Maverick.
In 1987 a new large stamping plant was built on Van Born Road and connected to the plant via overhead tunnels. In 1989 the Wayne Drive-in was bought and closed to allow for expansion all the way to Hix Road.

The Ford Plant in the early days from the viewpoint of Newburgh and Michigan Avenue.

In 1996 Bronco production ended, and in 1997 pickup truck production ceased, to switch to Lincoln Navigators and Ford Expedition SUV’s.
In 2008 all production ceased, both plants were combined, and the Focus was made there beginning in 2011.
In 2018 it was announced that the plant would be overhauled again to go back to truck and bronco production. The Ranger and Bronco are currently made there.
Wayne Michigan Assembly is the 2nd largest Ford plant in the US, only behind the Rouge Plant in Dearborn, with 369 acres, 15 miles of assembly lines and over 5 million square feet.

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