Ford's Oakville Assembly Plant: 50 Years And Counting
The first Ford vehicle – a four-door "Custom" sedan – rolled off the assembly line at Ontario's Oakville Assembly Plant (OAP) fifty years ago yesterday, on May 11, 1953.
A year earlier, construction of the $65 million plant had begun in a farm field in what was then Trafalgar Township. The project would boast about 1.3 million ft2 of manufacturing facilities on a 420-acre site, making it the largest plant under one roof in Canada. Today, OAP sits on 487 acres and its buildings themselves total 3.8 million ft2.
To build the original assembly plant in 1953, it took more than 8,000 tons of steel, 50,000 cubic yards of concrete, 250,000 ft2 of aluminum siding, thousands of panes of window glass, more than one million bricks and over two million man-hours of work.
During the first year of production, OAP built 122,581 cars and trucks and employed more than 3,000 people. At the time, Ford of Canada's vehicle assembly operation had moved to Oakville from Windsor, the latter eventually growing as an engine-producing powerhouse for the corporation.
Since May 11, 1953, OAP has built 9,765,000 vehicles. Current plant employment is 3,400 people.
At the time the site for the assembly plant was chosen because of its proximity to the heart of the Canadian automotive market. Sixty-five per cent of all cars and trucks sold in Canada were purchased within a 560-km radius of Oakville.
The plant was considered a highly advanced multi-functional facility, capable of producing several different vehicles on one assembly line. Here is a decade-by-decade summary of the past 50 years:
Ford Mainline, Customline, Meteor Niagara, Rideau, Monarch Custom, Lucerne Mercury Custom, Monterey, Ford/Mercury 100 – 900 – Truck Series, Victoria, Crown Victoria, Fairlane, Monarch Richelieu, Mercury Montclair, Ranchero, Edsel Ranger, Pacer, Corsair, Citation, Ford/Mercury truck lines up to 1100
Meteor, Falcon, Frontenac, Mercury Lines, Comet, Galaxie, Mercury Park Lane, Falcon Futura, Galaxie 500, Mercury, Fairlane
Ford Custom, Custom 500, Galaxie 500, LTD, Meteor Rideau, Meteor Rideau 500, Meteor Montcalm, Meteor Marquis, Meteor Marquis, Meteor Marquis Brougham, Ford Torino, Gran Torino (Brougham, Sport) Mercury Marquis, Marquis Brougham, LTD, LTD Landau and Brougham, Gran Marquis, LTD Landau
LTD 'S', Tempo, Topaz, Escort, Lynx, Windstar, Freestar