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Ford Shuts Down Historic Plant

Ford Motor Co.'s oldest manufacturing plant, an 86-year-old factory built under the guidance of founder Henry Ford and later the birthplace of the iconic Mustang, made its final car Monday.

With the Wilson Pickett hit "Mustang Sally" blaring over a loudspeaker, hundreds of employees and retirees cheered and hugged as they watched the final car — a crimson red Mustang convertible — roll off the line.

"The Mustang has been with us for so long," said Rosa Smith, a 26-year Ford employee. "It is the car, the toy for the older generation and the sports car for the younger folks."

Ford is moving production of the Mustang from Dearborn, home to the company's headquarters, to a factory in Flat Rock, southwest of Detroit. It is part of a companywide effort to switch to lean and flexible manufacturing systems, allowing Ford to cut costs by $1.5 billion to $2 billion over the next decade.

Ford has built roughly 6.7 million Mustangs in Dearborn since the car's introduction in 1964. The Mustang is one of the most popular cars ever made, offering a combination of sporty looks and raw horsepower that has been enjoyed by generations of Americans.

Sitting next to the assembly line Monday was a cream-colored 1964 Mustang — the first one to come off the line 40 years ago.

The closing comes just days after General Motors stopped production of the venerable Oldsmobile at its Lansing Car Assembly plant, which had produced them for nearly a century.

The Dearborn Assembly Plant simply outlived its usefulness, the company said. It has played a vital role in Ford's business since it opened in 1918, 15 years after Henry Ford founded the company.

For all its history of making some of America's most popular cars, the factory actually got its start producing submarine chasers, known as Eagle boats, for the U.S. government during World War I.

Over the next two decades, the plant was used to make the Model A, Fordson tractors and wooden body parts for the Model T.

The factory has produced Mercury models such as the Cougar and Capri and other Ford models including the Galaxie, Fairlane and Thunderbird.