The Ford River Rouge Complex (commonly known as the Rouge Complex or just The Rouge) is a Ford Motor Company automobile factory complex located in Dearborn, Michigan, along the Rouge River, upstream from its confluence with the Detroit River at Zug Island. Construction began in 1917, and when it was completed in 1928 it had become the largest integrated factory in the world. The Rouge measures 1.5 miles (2.4 km) wide by 1 mile (1.6 km) long, including 93 buildings with nearly 16 million square feet (1.5 km²) of factory floor space. With its own docks in the dredged Rouge River, 100 miles (160 km) of interior railroad track, its own electricity plant, and integrated steel mill, the titanic Rouge was able to turn raw materials into running vehicles within this single complex, a prime example of vertical-integration production.
Over 100,000 workers were employed there in the 1930s. Some of the Rouge buildings were designed by Albert Kahn. His Rouge glass plant was regarded at the time as an exemplary and humane factory building, with its ample natural light coming through windows in the ceiling. More recently, several buildings have been converted to “green” structures with a number of environmentally friendly features. In the summer of 1932, through Edsel Ford’s support, Diego Rivera studied the facilities at the Rouge; these studies became a major part of his set of murals Detroit Industry, on continuous display at the Detroit Institute of Arts since their completion in 1933.
The Rouge’s first products were Eagle Boats, World War I anti-submarine warfare boats produced in Building B. The original Building B, a three-story structure, is part of the legendary Dearborn Assembly Plant, which started producing Model A’s in the late 1920s and continued production through 2004. After the war, production turned to Fordson tractors. Although the Rouge’s coke ovens and foundry produced nearly all the parts of the Model T, assembly of that vehicle remained at Highland Park. It was not until 1927 that automobile production began there, with the introduction of the Ford Model A.
Later Rouge products included the 1932 Model B, the original Mercury, the Ford Thunderbird, and four decades of Ford Mustangs. The old assembly plant was idled with the construction and launch of a new assembly facility on the Miller Road side of the complex, currently producing Ford F-150 pickup trucks. On May 26, 1937, a group of workers attempting to organize a union at the Rouge were severely beaten, an event later called the Battle of the Overpass. Peter E. Martin’s respect for labor led to Walter Reuther, a UAW leader, allowing Martin to be the only Ford manager to retrieve his papers or gain access to the plant.
After the 1960s, Ford began to decentralize manufacturing, building many factories across the country. The Rouge, too, was downsized, with many units (including the famous furnaces and docks) sold off to independent companies. By 1992, only Mustang production remained at the Dearborn Assembly Plant (DAP). In 1987 Ford planned to replace that car with the front wheel drive Ford Probe, but public outcry quickly turned to surging sales. With the fourth-generation Mustang a success, the Rouge was saved as well. Ford decided to modernize its operations. A gas explosion on February 1, 1999, killed six employees and injured two dozen more, resulting in the idling of the power plant.
Michigan Utility CMS Energy built a state-of-the-art Power Plant across Miller Road to replace the electricity and steam production, as well as the Blast-Furnace waste gas consumption of the original power plant. As it ended production, Dearborn Assembly Plant (DAP) was one of six plants within the Ford Rouge Center. The plant was open from 1918 to May 10, 2004, with a red convertible 2004 Ford Mustang GT being the last vehicle built at the historic site. Demolition of the historic DAP facility was completed in 2008. All that remains is a 3000 place parking lot to hold light truck production from the new Dearborn Assembly Plant. S451
Pierce-Arrow was one of the greatest luxury brands from its start in 1901 until its demise in 1938, building a succession of advanced automobiles of all kinds, as well as trucks, buses, boats and motorcycles of the highest order.
The Buffalo, New York, automaker was in its heyday when it produced the Pick of the Day, a 1928 Pierce-Arrow Series 80 rumble-seat roadster. This sporty number would have been the cat’s pajamas while touring speakeasies, impressing the sheiks and flappers alike.
Al Capone had a big ego and an equally big car. He never lost the ego; the car, on the other hand, was sold four years after he bought it. There are many places where a bulletproof 1928 Cadillac Town Sedan would be useful, but federal prison is not one of them.
Capone—the Chicago mobster and bootlegger known as Public Enemy #1—was convicted of tax evasion in 1931 and sentenced to 11 years in federal prison. He was released eight years later, debilitated and suffering from neurosyphilis. On January 25, 1947, the 48-year-old Capone died of cardiac arrest after suffering a stroke.
Capone’s armor-plated Caddy was long gone by then, purchased first by a couple who hoped to capitalize on his fame. It later ended up in a string of museums for the same reason.
Now it could be yours. The Capone Cadillac is being offered for $1 million by Celebrity Cars Las Vegas. The car (VIN #306449) was once owned by legendary collector John O’Quinn, and it was sold by his estate for $341,000 at RM Sotheby’s St. John’s sale in 2012.
“The history is certainly fascinating, but Al Capone is a controversial figure, and the market spoke in 2012 with its last auction appearance,” says Hagerty valuation editor Andrew Newton. “The car doesn’t appear to have had major work since then, so it’s hard to argue it’s worth a lot more than it sold for eight years ago.”
If you believe it’s worth every bit of that $1M, however, a quick glance at the website reveals that financing is available. With $1000 down and an interest rate of 5 percent for 5 years, your estimated monthly payment would be $18,852.36. Quite a hefty sum, to be sure, but the car’s story is priceless.
Shot by an unknown Detroit film maker in 1928 showing Detroit police escorting new Ford cars thru the streets of Detroit to an unidentifiable location. It appears the escort went from perhaps a Ford building in Dearborn thru the streets of Detroit. Please feel free to comment if you can identify any of the streets and or buildings. historicusjoe.
Related – 1928-’31 Ford Model A ”The Start of a New Line” remains one of the most popular collector cars of all time
As the holiday season nears at a rapid pace, let’s launch Season Four of This or Thatwith a couple of haulers – ideally suited for volume shoppers – from the early days of the self-propelled industry: a 1915 Buick C-4 Express and a 1928 International SF36, both of which we spotted on the show field during the 2019 edition of the annual AACA Hershey meet.
[Editor’s comment: Please note that the This or That column is not a comparison report between two or more vehicles (in the original spirit of the Hemmings Special Interest Autos/Hemmings Classic Car/Hemmings Muscle Machines articles), but rather a feature that enables us, in an idyllic world, to add a collectible vehicle into our dream garage on a regular basis — with a catch: We can only pick one vehicle from this group, and it has to be for enjoyment purposes rather than as an investment. So let’s climb into the ultimate automotive fantasy time machine and have a little fun.]
A ship that sank in the 1920s in the Great Lakes has been found with a 91-year-old Chevrolet coupe in the hold.
The Manasoo sank on September 15, 1928, in Georgian Bay in Lake Huron, mlive.com reported. It is thought that either the 116 cattle on board shifted to one side of the ship during a storm, causing it to tilt and take on water, or a stern door was open during the storm.