Chris Vick has been a super contributor to our web site and we are very indebted to him for all of his restoration articles but on this series he has gone far and above over anything I ever expected. This is the first of a multi part story about people he talked with that worked at the Lorain Ohio plant in 1969. That is were our 1969 Spoiler and Spoiler II cars were built!
Chris started with a Google search for “Lorain Ohio newspaper” and found the the Morning Journal. Then, in their search box he typed in “Mercury Mystery”. The led Chris, The Archaeologist, to working with the newspaper to print an article asking for Lorain plant workers from that era to contact Chris to help answer some of his questions. Here is a link to that article.
How and Why Did He Do It?
Chris says he wanted to learn more about these cars so he took a chance on somebody at the paper might be willing to do a story in the local section about somebody who restores the Spoiler II’s and is looking for people who worked on these cars back in 1969/1970. He was looking for someone to talk to him about their job. A certain “doubting Thomas” didn’t think much would happen but I have talked to 4 people so far that worked at the plant in 1969.
One drove the cars off the assembly line, one worked on making the fenders, one worked in the paint department and one did the final front fender assembly.
I have more but will start with this story.
If you want to learn more about something you would usually go to the source but in this case I wanted to learn more about Cyclone Spoiler II’s and the plant is closed. It has been 48 years since the cars were built. Now what? Well, I am not afraid of a challenge so I thought I would contact a newspaper in Lorain Ohio and see if somebody there would do a story about a guy who restores Spoiler II’s and is looking for people who live in Lorain and worked at the plant in 1969 and are willing to talk about what they did on these cars. Obviously this is a TALL order. At best I calculated they might be in their late sixties/early seventies and I wanted to know what they did 48 years ago! Not asking much was I? Well, I got 5 phone calls, one was a relative and 4 were people who worked at the plant.
This first story is about a guy who worked for Ford his entire career. At that time he drove the cars off the assembly line and into the parking lot. This guy was a riot, he had more stories than there is time.
The first cool part was that the cars had NO front clip when they were driven off the line! The cars where driven to a different building for final assembly, that is another story. (Editor’s note: Remember this is different that what we know about the Talladega assembly line. Ford used Pilot Cars to test the line and then totally assembled the Talladega on the regular production line.)
When a Spoiler/Spoiler II was shipped, in the trunk were boxes with the center caps, trim rings, and the spoiler. The antennae was in a long paper bag. These items were easy to steal so they were put in the trunk to make it more difficult fir them to disappear. Most readers probably already know that the seat belts had plastic bags on them to keep them clean. The driver side sun visor had the starting instruction sleeve and on the driver side windshield was a sticker that had the car’s line number and the build date. These numbers were in different colors but he was unsure what the colors meant. After 48 years I believe we can forgive him for not remembering this small detail!
The final comment on these cars before I wander off on some funny stories is the Final Spoiler II was repaired twice before it was shipped. It seems the car had received some damage during the build process but it was repaired. The supervisor said he would drive the car so no one else could screw it up. You guessed it; on the way out to the parking lot he drove between two cars and got hit on the way through.
My car is at the end of the run but I was told it was not the last one, glad it wasn’t.
Theft was a major problem at the plant. Some workers were known to steal stuff from the cars as they were being built. The 1965 Comet Cyclones could have an optional tach and/or gauge pack on the dash. He said only one car with the option made it out to the parking lot with the tach still in it! Entire transmissions and engines would go home. It appears that too many of the workers at Lorain took the old Johnny Cash song “One Part at a Time” to heart!
The plant had a rail yard so Mustangs and Cougars were transported to the Lorain plant for shipping. This included the Shelbys. Well, it is reported that there were more than a few races in that parking lot.
I will have more stories in the future but this will give you an idea of the information I have been able to gather.
By: Chris Vick