Erected in 1953, the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant was never really designed to build cars. The original purpose of the facility, now sitting north of Detroit, was to manufacture jet engines and missiles for the United States Army. In fact, it was once named the Michigan Ordinance Missile Plant and subsequently owned and occupied by Volkswagen until 1983.
Chrysler took over the rocket-making plant after it was converted into an automobile manufacturing hub and immediately started churning out the Chrysler LeBaron GTS and the Dodge Lancer a year later.
Chrysler began to zero in on the mid-size automobile market in the 1980′s. In less than 10 years, the American car maker had built over a million vehicles.
But that very same year, the then-56-year-old automobile plant was scheduled to be closed down due to a bankruptcy plan of action.
After a successful purchase agreement with the Italian automotive giant Fiat, the northern Detroit production facility survived preserving thousands of jobs and working to bring forth the new line of Chrysler 200s in 2010.
Chrysler received a major brand makeover when the company invested $850 million dollars to overhaul the plant’s assembly line and create a new paint and body shop. The company’s new digs were recently unveiled at this year’s Chrysler 200 event.
According to Fiat Chrysler Automaker CEO Sergio Marchionne, the auto maker’s choice to invest in a facility that was once slated to be on the chopping block, is simply a reflection of the kind of dedication Chrysler’s workers continue to show on a daily basis.
In many ways, the production of the 2015 Chrysler 200 is a shout out to the grit and determination embodied by the American spirit. It’s a nod to dealerships worldwide like the one here at Mancari, as well as a banner of appreciation for the loyalty of each and everyone of the brand’s customers.
It’s this same concept that birthed the ideal of a “born maker.”
Being a born maker is about digging deeper and working harder. It’s about creativity and ingenuity. A “maker” gives no excuses and makes no apologies.
Chrysler, along with the all-new 200, was constructed right here on American soil. In 2013, the mid-size sedan was named one of the most American Made Cars by the Kogood American Auto Index.
Olivier Francios, Chrysler’s chief marketing officer describes the merger of the characteristics of a born maker with the story of the Chrysler 200 as “… an homage to American innovation, serving as a reminder that you don’t have to cross an ocean for a car you’re proud to have in your driveway.”
More than six decades later, The Sterling Heights Assembly Plant has become as important to the fabric of America as apple pie. At least, that’s how we see it at Mancari’s in Oak Lawn.