The Wixom assembly plant was one of Ford Motor Company’s largest and oldest manufacturing sites. It opened April 15, 1957, and was ultimately expanded to encompass 4.7 million square feet. Over the plant’s 50 years of operation it produced 6,648,806 automobiles. The last car produced was a white chocolate Lincoln Town Car which rolled off the line at 12:55pm on May 31, 2007, pictured left. During its long history, the plant was mainly used for the manufacture of Lincolns and the Ford Thunderbird. The Lincoln Town Car and the Ford GT were also produced there. Production of the Lincoln LS ended in early April 2006 and production of the Ford GT stopped on September 21 2006, leaving the Town Car as the plant’s final product.
Wixom was the most profitable plant in the industry during the 1980s when Cadillac downsized its lineup and lost ground to Lincoln. Due to Lincoln’s falling sales, Ford announced on January 23, 2006 that the Wixom plant would be idled in 2007. Some analysts argued that the plant might not be closed and Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm, reportedly offered $115 million in tax cuts to keep the plant open. The plant was nonetheless idled in 2007, and by mid-June 2008, while Ford was able to find buyers for other idled plants, Wixom remained unsold.
Products made at the Wixom Assembly Plant:
- 1958–2002 Lincoln Continental
- 1958–2005 Ford Thunderbird
- 1980–1983 Lincoln Mark VI
- 1981–2007 Lincoln Town Car
- 1984–1992 Lincoln Mark VII
- 1993–1998 Lincoln Mark VIII
- 2000–2006 Lincoln LS
- 2005–2006 Ford GT
Below is a video showing the construction of a 1962 Lincoln and Thunderbird being built at the Wixom Assembly Plant.
It was announced in August 2009 that the former Ford Wixom plant would be converted to a green energy production plant, pictured right, with an initial investment of $725 million. The potential investment is expected to exceed $1 billion if the project develops. Two separate companies, Xtreme Power and Clairvoyant Energy seek to redevelop the factory and hire a combined 4,000-plus employees. The two companies plan on occupying half of the factory, with the goal that the other half will be occupied by other alternative energy companies. When the project is completed it will be the largest renewable energy park in the United States.
As of August, 2010 all parties, Xtreme Power, Clairvoyant Energy, Ford and the State of Michigan, were still on board with the Energy Park plan and as of July 2013, the assembly plant was completely torn down. General RV Center’s new headquarters and a Menards outlet will also be built on the new site.
On November 14, 1996 the Wixom assembly plant was the site of a deadly shooting. The lone gunman was Gerald Atkins, a 29 year old, and a former member of the National Guard. Atkins was not a Ford employee but had dated an employee at the Wixom plant. Dressed in camouflage, and armed with an AK-47, Atkins stole a truck from a nearby landscaping company and went to the Ford plant. He had told his boss at a glass company, where he worked, that he had been denied entrance at the assembly plant the previous weekend when he went there to propose to a woman and was angry about it. According to police, the shooter hid from authorities for several hours by remaining in a series of drain tunnels outside of the plant. The manager of the factory was shot and killed, while another Ford employee and two Oakland County sheriff deputies were also shot and wounded by the gunman. Atkins was charged with first-degree murder, 12 felony firearms violations, 11 counts of assault with intent to murder, auto theft, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.