The T-bird visits its birthplace: Back to Lorain Assembly


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Sep 12, 2023
North Ridgeville, OH
Vehicle Details
1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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Originally posted on May 1, 2013!

I called up the manager of the former Lorain plant after work today and got his permission to drive around the grounds to take some pictures. :biggrin:

I'll start with a panoramic photo of the front of the plant taken from in front of the main entrance. Click the thumbnail for a larger resolution... not for the faint at heart; the plant's over 1/2 mile long!
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The rest of these are scaled to 800 wide. Click for 1024 wide... or if you've got your heart set on full res, PM me. :wink:
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I don't know for certain, of course, but it looked like this door may have been the "end of the line" where freshly assembled vehicles would emerge from.
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Here we have the loading ramps where cars to be shipped via rail were loaded onto boxcars. Chances are your car drove up one of these ramps and departed on these rails...
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At the back of the plant we have lots of loading docks where countless parts and sub-assemblies would have been unloaded.

The main entrance.
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One of the pump houses.

All that's left of 1,500,000 square feet of the plant's center section, which was demolished because it had fallen into such a state of disrepair it was deemed beyond renovation.

After nearly ten years of neglect, this is what the parking lots mostly look like now. Hard to believe this lot was once full of cars waiting to be sent around the country - or world.
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Here would have been a pair of completed vehicles for the then current production model year on display for the passers-by on Baumhart Road to admire. Now just an advertisement.


Meaningless signs reminiscent of a bygone era...
This photo was tacked up inside the guard house, and the guy I spoke to let me in to take a picture of it. :smile:


Trunk Monkey said:
I was thinking the same thing. I bet there's some souvenirs to be had around there somewhere.

Very possibly there's something inside one of the buildings that got overlooked when the place was emptied and sold. There are a few warehousing companies that have taken residence in the buildings now; there were lots and lots of semi trailers arranged throughout the grounds. Unfortunately I don't think there'd be any way to get permission to go inside and snoop around - when I was there I was expressly forbidden from entering any of the structures (be it for concerns of privacy, theft, or saftey).

Trunk Monkey said:
How is it you happen to know the manager of the old plant well enough to just call him up and ask permission to poke around?

I don't know if the guy I talked to used to manage the old plant or not, but I don't know him personally. When I went up there this past Saturday hoping to get photos, I stopped at the gate and talked to the guard on duty that day and asked for permission to take pictures. He wasn't authorized to answer me so he gave me the contact information for "the plant manager" while at the same time let me take a picture of the photo of the last T-bird on the line. At the time I believed "plant manager" simply to mean the guy in charge of the place who was appointed by the new owners of the complex. I don't know if he worked in any management capacity for Ford at the plant or even if he used to work on the lines at all. But it is possible; the security guard did say that a lot of the old line workers went on to work for the warehousing company that moved into the old plant.

I am however good friends with one of the former line workers who used to do work in the body shop and later exhaust work at the plant. After his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps he began working for Ford at the plant and took a company buyout before the plant shut down. I also am good friends with a current employee of the Avon Lake plant as well. I don't know exactly what his position is, but he works the night shift and monitors the welding robots.

XR7-4.6 said:
I would have been sooooooo tempted to drive onto one of those ramps. :tongue:

Those concrete ramps at the front? Yeah, I thought about it too, but they looked a lot steeper in real life than they do in that picture. Plus with that big sign in the way... It would have been awesome to have a photo of my car up there though. "The last MN12 showcased at Lorain Assembly"

Thanks everyone for the positive feedback!
@MadMikeyL is in town this weekend for the eclipse, and we decided to pay the plant a visit this afternoon.

It's changed a bit since the last time I was there; the rest of the plant has been sold to more distribution companies and the facility is a lot less "fenced off" to prevent uncontrolled access. The ramps to show off cars was removed and the demolition and renovation of the area that used to be the center of the plant has long been complete - no more open walls inside the building, or piles of rubble!

We pulled our cars in front of the (still vacant and unrenovated) office building and posed for a photo. :)

That's really emotional. Thank you for doing this. It'd be great if we could get as many as we could into that lot and see what happens, but what a cost that would be

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