AMC Body Plant Stories
From an ex-AMC body plant employee, Tim Pella, through Bob Wilson, 29 July 1999.
Great stuff on your [Bob's] website!! Brings back memories of my youth in S.E. Wisconsin as well as my years as an AMC employee(1974-1976). I worked on the body shop line the day they made the last Javelin as well as the prototype pacers. I owned a 1970 Mark Donohue Javelin(green) while employed there. Never should have traded it in!!!
Don't know if you've heard this one or not, but did you ever wonder why AMC cars often have top fender rust?
As I mentioned, I worked in the body section where all bare metal parts were put together with the uni-body. If any irregularities in the construction was found by the inspectors, the cars were sent to the "repair hole". Much of this was done at the Lakefront Plant in Kenosha. The Lakefront Plant was a part of the Simmons mattress factory in the early 1900's, before AMC bought it. As a result of its age and sometimes lack of repair, the roof leaked. The "repair hole" happened to be two floors below one of those leaks, but the water still got down there onto the unpainted metal of the cars. The real problem was that many of the cars went on to the paint area without the parts with obvious water-related problems being fixed. It was not uncommon to see rust beginning on bare metal fenders or the v-channel of the unibody if the fenders were not on yet. I never could figure out why they didn't just fix the roof.
I mentioned working on the early Pacers. I worked in the "lead booth", where the leaded roof seams were ground, smoothed, and sanded. You can imagine the exitement when, after seeing Gremlins and Hornets for days on end there was this odd, turtle-shaped car on the hooks coming down the line.
If you recall, one of the marketing issues at the time was passenger safety. I knew a Pacer owner who hit a deer dead flush in the front end of his car and the Pacer only had an extremely small dent in the hood with no paint damage.
I mentioned my Donahue Javelin, but I also owned a 73 Gremlin X (304, 3-speed), 67 and 68 Ambassadors, a 68 Rebel SST (343, 2dr HT, auto), and now my son is driving a 79 Spirit AMX (304, 4sp).
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