Car factories are not easy to setup, run or even manage. They're also known to churn out some of the best (and sometimes worst) of engineering and automotive designs that the world has seen, and still use to date. However, maintaining a car factory requires a lot of time, effort, patience, manpower, and especially money to keep it going. There are many car factories that have over the years faded away owing to a myriad of reasons, some of which collapsed leaving thousands of workers without pay or a way of life.
Today, all we have left of such factories are either shells of the cars, some left on conveyor belts, or the run down buildings whose photos emerge online so we can see their dilapidated state. What were once home to thousands of workers, are today time capsules of company struggles and closures of car factories across the world. They've been frozen in time, so to speak. Some with personal items or old magazines and newspapers lying abandoned in the old offices. Car bodies are also sitting on the production lines, some rusty, with door handles packed in boxes.
For photographers, however, some of these places are a privilege to go and see inside the factories, albeit their sad states, especially for those that were massive employers back in their hay days. What follows are images of some 17 abandoned car factories, most of which are a sharp contrast to their bustling pictures from when they were in operation.
17 Bugatti Automobili: Campogalliano, Italy
Long before Bugatti started making the Veyron in Moslheim, they had put a plant in Italy which today is destitute. When you get a chance to visit the place today, you would see a floor marking for a car that doesn’t really exist. What remains of the factory is the cruel reality of today. Everything that was within the factory was auctioned off in a sealed bid auction.
The plant has been emptied out and until today it has not been put into use.
The cars and parts were taken to someone else where 5 new EB110s were built from the remaining parts. Artioli kept the Bugatti name which was later purchased by Volkswagen. Today, the Veyron are manufactured in German. The old plant was situated in Modena.
16 Longbridge Plant: Birmingham, England
Before the British car industry collapsed, everything was made in Birmingham. That was the place where cars such as Austins, Nash, Metropolitans, Morris cars, British Leyland products and MG Rovers were produced. What is fascinating about this factory is how it was seriously outdated when it was shut down. The assembly line was dated from the fifties but it still used a drop in for the union of body and engine. When compared to the Mercedes plant in Vance, Alabama they are seriously not close at all. When the modernization and investment into the factory was antithetical to the government ownership, it was tasked with keeping up employment and not building a product that could be effectively manufactured. By the time this plant was shut down many incomplete cars were left inside it.
15 Packard Plant: Detroit, Michigan
This is another plant that had been abandoned by the automotive industry and now serves as a home from a certain person who claims to have lived there for over seven years. This company was opened in 1903 and was designed by famed architect Albert Kahn. The luxury car factory was one of the largest and most modern plants in the world at that time. The firm was shut down in 1956 and today it stands as a reminder of Detroit’s industrial demise.
There have been talks about the demolition of the plant for over 15 years.
The current owner of the iconic plant has however made some promises to demolish it but no action has been taken yet.
14 TVR Factory: Blackpool, England
If there was one automotive company that was the best kept secret then it was TVR. It was definitely a truly iconic independent sport Car Company that began in 1947. TVR designed its own engines before it was bellied-up in the mid-2000s. Today, spotting a TVR Cerbera, Tuscan or Sabari’s on TV screens is surely an evocative experience due to the limited nature of the car's production. TVR will be remembered for its appearance on the Top Gear episode where the three hosts took a visit to the TVR plant that was later left tongue tied at the abandoned car shells and the state of disrepair in the abandoned shop.
13 Daewoo Factory: Surajpur, India
What Daewoo will amuse us with is the fact it was the first real threat to Maruti and also the first actual choice for the Indian market since Maruti. Anyone would favour the Matiz over the super-ugly Hyundai Santro of the time since it was a class act and the Cielo actually offered the feel of an international car when compared to the Maruti 1000/Esteem during that time. The sad part of everything was that Daewoo India's operations was not part of GM’s takeover of Daewoo which later led to the closure of the shop in India. The factory was later abandoned, derelict, demolished and doesn’t exist today.
12 Fiat Factory: Lingotto, Italy
The Fiat factory in Lingotto situated outside Turin was put in place in 1923 and from then it became well known as the largest automotive factory in Europe during that time. The plant was a masterpiece given the usual design flair and became the pride of Turin. The factory was a five-story integrated building fitted with an incredible banked test track on its roof.
The raw materials in the plant would be moved up the line as they moved into each floor above and came out as a complete car ready to be tested at the roof-top track.
Fiats produced in this magnificent factory were the Fiat Topolino, Spider and 124, the forefathers to the many replicas that were produced under different names. This factory was declared obsolete and was closed in 1982. Today what was a car factory has become a shopping mall.
11 Fordlandia: Santarem, Brazil
If you think of one of the coolest ghost towns you would wish to visit in the Amazon rainforest then Fordlandia would be a great choice. The place was not just a plant but a whole city that had everything a regular city had. It came into being after Ford decided to make tires from latex in Brazil where the government gave them countless square kilometres to venture in. At its peak the company began constructing other things within the area that benefitted its workers and the surrounding community which later led to the formation of a city. Due to continuous problems in the area such as low production of latex, friction with the locals and harsh climactic conditions the plant was abandoned by Ford.
10 Highland Park Ford Plant: Detroit, Michigan
Ford has been one of the most wealthy car companies over the years and to expand its territory it placed its firms in almost every city. The Highland Park Plant was originally a Ford Motor Company factory that was situated at 91 Manchester Avenue in Highland Park, Michigan.
At the time of its opening in 1910, the plant was sitting on about 102 acres of land was the largest manufacturing facility in the world.
It was the second production site for the Model T automobile and it will also be remembered to be the first plant in history to assemble cars on a moving assembly line. In 1978 the car factory became a National Historic Landmark, but sits abandoned.
9 Studebaker Building: New York City
New York City is the country's centre for media, fashion and banking. But history seems to have forgotten that it was also a home to some of the first auto factories. Back in 1923, Studebaker put in place a finishing plant and distribution centre smack dab at the centre of the Manhattan neighbourhood. In the ‘20s the building contained workers that produced some of the expensive luxury vehicles. The factory produced Studebaker's Big Six, Special Six and Light Six that became popular under different names after the year 1928. When the stock market crashed in 1929, Studebaker saw sales plummet and it was compelled to make cuts. Subsequently the factory ceased production and the plant was later sold to the Borden Milk Company.
8 Fisher Body Plant: Detroit, Michigan, USA
The Fisher Body plant was integrated completely as an in-house coach building division of the General Motor back in the 1926. A series of long strikes broke out at GM and the other plants in USA making production being stopped. After the Second World War Fisher Body left the production on military produced and anti-aircraft guns and started assembling buses, ambulances and limousines. The company’s last production was in 1984. After the closure, the plant found new life when Carter Colour Coat Company bought it in 1990 for use in industrial painting that was later short-lived.
7 Ford Factory: Villa de Reyes, Mexico
Though the construction of the plant wasn’t complete, Ford had to leave it the way it was due to red tape.
Ford said that it took them about $200 million to cover the cost of abandoning the small-car factory that would have been used to build the Focus compact.
However the company would still move Ford compacts to an existing Mexico factory. The turn of events came after the US had sharply criticized their plans. The abandonment of the plant contributed to a quarterly net loss for the company and it was its first since 2009.
6 Ford Chassis Plant: Melbourne Road, North Geelong
The factory was shut down and decommissioned in 2004 with the site lying empty until local carpet manufacture Godfrey Hirst came to it purchase in 2011. Geelong is known for a manufacturing and Ford factory has been its large part since 1925. Ford was protected by tariffs on imported cars making it to grow their local operations after the Second World War. The increasing prosperity allowed most Australians to own cars but changes started to occur in the early 1980s when the Motor Development Plan brought into light the local manufactures to compete in the world stage which led to widespread job losses at car industries in Australia especially at Ford factory.
5 American Motors: Kenosha, Wisconsin
Kenosha was an automobile and engine factory based in Kenosha Wisconsin. It first opened its production back in 1902 by Thomas Jeffery Company but it was later operated by American Motors. The engine plant saw all operation halted by Chrysler. The plant was permanently closed in 2010 before being demolished between 2012 and 2013. This plant last produced cars back in 1988. The cars it produced included the subcompact Dodge Omni, Plymouth Horizon models and M-body RWD sedans, however the plant was downsized and it continued to manufacture engines.
4 Alfa Romeo Factory: Arese, Italy
Another car plant that was abandoned is the Italy based Alfa Romeo factory. That should be an adequate explanation itself.
The plant was established in 1963 and become Alfa Romeo's main production facility until Fiat’s acquisition in 2005.
During the four decades of the firm's operations, the factory produced many of the Alfa’s production range that included the Giulia GT, GTV and Spider. After the closure the plant serves many purposes to Alfa. It is used as a home to the Alfa Romeo museum since its closure.
3 Buick City: Flint, Michigan
If you thought it was only Detroit’s plant in Packard mentioned above that abandoned its 35 acre spread then you thought wrong. You should take a look at the more enormous GM factory known as Buick City that spread across 235 acres in Flint, Michigan. The factory was built by GM back in 1904 as a response to Toyota City in Japan before it was completely closed in 2010. During its peak, the plant employed up to around 28000 employees and it became the first American car to feature in and win a JD Power ranking that was the 1989 Buick LeSabre. The plant also won a Platinum Award during its final year of operation and it holds the record of being the only GM factory to have won the award.
2 General Motors Plant: Oakland, California
Oakland Assembly was former Chevrolet manufacturing plant that was later owned by General Motors. The plant was the first factory to be established in the Northern California that built Chevrolet vehicles. Chevrolet opened its first auto industry in West Coast assembly plant in Oakland in 1916 and the production of Chevrolet series began in September that year. In 1918 Fageol Truck and Bus Company opened a plant to the north until 1927. This plant remained in production until the summer of 1963 when it was taken over by Fremont Assembly. The plant is now a shopping center.
1 The DeLorean Plant: Dunmurry, Ireland
When the name “DeLorean” is mentioned you will be definitely feel juiced up since it is a favourite car for many people. But what is heart-breaking about the car’s history is that where it was born is now a massive building with broken windows, according to Jalopnik. What can be seen in there today is DeLorean own test track. It does not receive more haunted that the tarmac covered in broken dreams in the land of fairies. The DeLorean factory was a famous one-horse stable. The only car that was ever made by the firm was the DMC- 12 that was shot to international fame for playing the time machine car in the well-known movies.
Sources: Jalopnik.com, TeamBHP.com, Dallasnews.com