MrEarl

GENERAL MOTORS ASSEMBLY PLANT Signage/Letters

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First a bit of history and pictures to tell the story.

The year was 1947, the sleek new Oldsmobile, with its shiny black body, sparkling chrome bumpers and striking whitewall tires rolled off the assembly line at the Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac Assembly Plant in Doraville, Georgia. The Oldsmobile was the first automobile built at the plant. The General Motors Doraville Assembly Plant, located on Atlanta Georgia’s I-285 Perimeter was originally built as part of the Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac (B.O.P.) Assembly Division. Ground was broken on the over 980 thousand square foot building in November 1945 and by the 1947 completion, its cost including the land, was over 9 million dollars. In 1950, 66,000 square feet of floor space was added, and expansions continued every decade.

 

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Prior to the birth of the B.O.P. Assembly Division, Fisher Body built, painted, and trimmed the body shell from the firewall back, and shipped it to the “Car Plant”. When that “Car Plant” received it, they “paid” Fisher Body for it. All of the front end sheet metal (hoods, fenders, radiator supports, inner fenders, etc) was designed, stamped, and fabricated by that Car Division in their own stamping plants, and was shipped to the using assembly plant, where it was painted and installed on the Car Division plant's Final Assembly Line. So if you have ever wondered why the color of the front clip of your old Buick is a little bit off from the rest of the car, now you know. 

The B.O.P. Assembly Division was born after GM converted from war production back to car production after WWII. The new division made no distinction between "Fisher Body" and "Car Divisions" - they built everyone's cars (except Cadillac) under contract. They were supplied tooling from Fisher and the Car Divisions, and built the cars in an efficient, sensible sequence regardless of whether the parts came from Fisher or a Car Division. This was now accomplished without the cost and redundancies of two separate plants (sometimes on the same site), dual management structures, dual Paint Shops etc. They built multiple Division's car lines mixed together on the same line at the same time.

 

 

 

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Big changes, including the Division's name change from B.O.P. Assembly Division to the General Motors Assembly Division (GMAD) came in the early 60's when they began building Chevrolets in addition to the B.O.P car lines. The efficiency of this arrangement vs. the traditional costly and inefficient Fisher/Car Division arrangement finally became apparent to GM Management, and GMAD was given all of the previous Fisher Body/Chevrolet assembly plants between 1967 and 1971. It became the biggest Division in GM, with 26 assembly plants and over 100,000 employees.

In 1976, 275,000 cars were produced at the Doraville plant and the plant had a payroll of 87 million dollars for 4,700 employees. But with the economic downturn of the early years of the new millenium, big banks and lenders collapsing under a load of bad debt and gas hovering at $4 (when the Doraville plant opened in 1947, gas cost about 15 cents), General Motors began a downward spiral. Between 2005 and 2008, GM eliminated more than 30,000 jobs and closed nine North American assembly, stamping and powertrain plants as part of an effort to get production in line with demand and the company making money again. Hence Doraville, the third-oldest GM plant in North America situated on 165 acres of a one-time dairy farm in Doraville, Georgia was slated for closure. At that time the minivan plant employed about 3,100 and paid out salaries of more than $221 million. It made the crossover sport vans Buick Terraza, Pontiac Montana SV6, Chevy Uplander and Saturn Relay.

 

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On September 25, 2008, in bleak contrast to the shiny black Oldsmobile 60 years earlier, a tan Chevrolet Uplander minivan rolled off the assembly line, the last vehicle to be produced at the plant. The following day the employees packed their belongings and toolboxes and left the building for the last time.

 

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An Atlanta-Houston based developer purchased the property from GM for $50 million. Demolition of the facilities began in 2014.

 

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Here is the site now. The Nalley Automotive Group purchased and developed a corner of the property and their are plans by the purchaser to develop a community complete with streets, parks and such which was approved by the City of Doraville.

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The above text and most pictures were taken from an article I wrote which ran in the July, 2015 Buick Bugle magazine.

 

 

Sales pitch to come.  :D

 

 

 

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and now for the sales pitch...

 

While I am an ardent and passionate lover of all things Buick, I have always had an interest in the Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs of the post war period also. So when I learned of the upcoming auction to be held at the Doraville Stamping and Assembly Plant consisting of cranes, welders, cabinets, toolboxes and all other types of cool shop stuff I had to wonder just how old some of this stuff could be and perhaps some of it could be from the B.O.P. era. It would be a 3 day affair. First day – inspection, second day – auction, third day - pickup of purchases. Needless to say, I went. Among the things I scored were an old drill press, an Art Deco style tool box and anvils, all with old brass BOP-Atlanta tool tags from pre 1950 on them. But the biggest thing scored was the letters that had glowed from atop the building and had been seen by millions of travelers on I 285 over the years.

 

Sadly I have decided to sell the GENERAL MOTORS ASSEMBLY PLANT letters in order to help fund the completion of my Buick Sales and Service Garage. http://forums.aaca.org/topic/303001-my-buick-sales-and-service-garage/

 

This is my first offering of the letters and I wanted the AACA forum members to have first shot.

 

The letters are stainless steel frames with fluorescent illuminated acrylic fronts. Each letter is 24 inches tall and will require approximately 28 linear feet of space to install as they were originally were installed on the building. Some of the florescent tubes are broken and six of the white acrylic letters are cracked, some worse than others,  so some repairs and restoration will be required for a perfect display. Had I kept the lights I had planned to replace the florescent tubes with simple LED lights. The acrylic letters can be obtained at any sign company. 

 

Price:  On the day of the auction, because I doubted I would have the funds myself to purchase the letters, my friend that was with me and I made a pact that we would combine funds and bid up to a certain amount on them. We won!  As I am sure you can imagine, considering the uniqueness and one off characteristic of them, determining the value and coming up with a price has not been easy. Considering what I have seen some antique dealership signage and other gas and oil signs sell for in the recent past and considering the great historical significance of them, we are asking $5,000 for the letters. Offers considered. Pick up in Athens Georgia or I will bring to Hershey in October.

Please message me if interested. I would also appreciate your forwarding this to anyone else you think may be interested.

Thanks, and I hope if nothing else you enjoyed the story that goes with them.

 

The letters when I first spied them in bins in the corner of the dock area

 

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Yours truly amongst the letters the day after the auction when we came back to pick them up.

 

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Note the shadowed areas where the letters were once attached to the facade of the old building

 

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I also managed to grab a brick from the original building built in the late 40's

 

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That's an interesting pictorial history,Mr.Earl. My 1978 GMC Caballero was built there in June '78.Nice to see where it came from. Good luck finding a buyer for the letters.

 

Jim

1978 GMC Caballero.jpg

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My 1947 Roadmaster was built there.  Original, unrestored, BCA Archival Award and AACA HPOF.  64,000 mile car.

He111 and 47 RM AdjX.jpg

Edited by 61polara
Additional info on car. (see edit history)
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Used to drive by that plant often. Was so sorry to see it torn down. Same thing with the Ford plant by Hartsfield Jackson AP. Wish I had a place for the letters. 

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my first job after high school was at the wilmington delaware plant. it looked very much like your photos, was built around the same time as a BOP location. when i worked there from 1964 thru 1967 we built full size chevies, buick le sabres and wild cats. would be cool to see aerial photos of both plants side by side the wilmington plant is still standing. was supposed to be sold to tesla but that deal fell thru. i think they found another buyer, but won't reveal who that is. good luck with selling your treasures.

.

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My 69 Lesabre was built in the Atlanta plant. Sold new in Cornelia Ga sold in Cleveland Ga and now resides in Tennessee. I tried to get it back to no avail. 

 

The letters are nice and you shouldn't have issue selling them.

 

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Edited by 56buickinga (see edit history)
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You dropped by the house in that car years ago right. 

 

No nibbles on the letters yet. Was hoping to find a good home for them here so I could sort of keep track of them. Open to suggestions on how to market them elsewhere. 

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That damn construction guy at Nalley....(for those that don't know it's me)... couldn't even find one Buick part on 20 acres....What he did find was lots and lots of General Motors' unmentionables....looks like Lamar got the best the site had to offer...

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On January 11, 2018 at 8:21 PM, MrEarl said:

You dropped by the house in that car years ago right. 

 

 

 

 

I did stop by not long after I bought it. You thanked me for "saving" you from going to look at it. 

 

 

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Keep telling myself "Glenn you are now living on retirement money and you should leave the 401K alone for a little while" but lord have mercy I would love to have those.

 

I don't own a Doraville car myself, but a Pontiac bud's 64 GP was assembled there. We always knew that car was a little "off", but its PHS documentation showed it was EXTENSIVELY changed coming down the assembly line. It's a fully loaded car to begin with- has stuff even most Cadillacs of the time didn't have- but it was pulled off the line and had its standard 4-barrel setup changed to date-coded Tri-Power, complete with correct heads and factory cast-iron headers.  It was also invoiced to the Doraville assembly plant. We surmise it was a high-level executive's car and possibly the Doraville plant manager's car.

 

Lamar, sell those quick and to someone who understands their significance- so I won't get stupid and buy them!

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36 minutes ago, rocketraider said:

Lamar, sell those quick and to someone who understands their significance- so I won't get stupid and buy them!

 

 

Come on, get stupid, make me a stupid (but not too stupid mind ya) offer I can't turn down.  :D  Such history, such one off pieces of General Motors history. Comes with all this provenance including the auction bill of sale. You know that 401 has grown over the last year more than enuf to pay for them. Why heck,  I'll meet ya half way tween Gawja and Vajenya.     Or... let me talk to your buddy.  :D

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Ben, there were two plants in Atlanta. The earlier of the two was the Lakewood Assembly plant. It too assembled BOP's and Chevrolet. Most of my Buick's have been Atlanta born but I can't tell you which plant.

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Several years back me and the GP owner were at Charlotte AutoFair and ran up on a nice 67 Pontiac Ventura 2DHT- a 428 car no less- for reasonable money. When he called the wife I could hear her on the cellphone "You bring another one home you better be prepared to sleep with it!"

 

With two kids still in high school and playing travel sports lord help him if he went after those letters. He's pushing me to get them using that same 401k logic. I said YOU have the significant Doraville car!  Plus he knows if I go first they'd go to him by default... 

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2 hours ago, rocketraider said:

 When he called the wife I could hear her on the cellphone "You bring another one home you better be prepared to sleep with it.

 

 

  He asked his wife? I don't comprehend !:D

 

  Ben

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Last bump before going to either a local auction or that dreaded e word.  Priced here at $5,000. Any auction house will charge either you or me at least 10%. So take that into consideration and Make us an offer. Will also pay a purchaser finders fee.

Edited by MrEarl
edit out finders fee (see edit history)

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