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HarleyEarl

Fleetwood Body Works

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History Up in Smoke

Fleetwood body works buildings destroyed

By TERRY SCOTT REED

AutoWeek | Published 01/23/06, 2:54 pm et

A factory referred to as the birthplace of car body building, the Fleetwood Metal Body Works in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, was destroyed by fire Dec. 24.

In its heyday Fleetwood installed up to 80 percent of its bodies on Packard chassis, with only 10 percent for Cadillacs, but it is Cadillac with which Fleetwood is perhaps most strongly associated.

General Motors obtained the Fleetwood name when it acquired the company as part of the purchase of Fisher Body Co. Fleetwood had achieved worldwide fame as a coachbuilder before Fisher acquired it. Fleetwood maintained a sales office at 2 Columbus Circle in New York, and dealt directly with the rich and famous as well as manufacturers worldwide.

Fleetwood bodies rode chassis from Duesenberg, Hispano-Suiza, Isotta-Fraschini, Lancia, Lincoln, Locomobile, Mercedes-Benz, Pierce-Arrow, Rolls-Royce and others. Fleetwood clients included Hollywood stars, captains of industry and political leaders from around the world.

A bidding war for order slots erupted in 1919 when the company stopped accepting new orders because it was booked well into 1921. The company disclosed it had refused more than $2 million (equivalent to about $21.8 million today) in orders in the previous four months.

Fleetwood Metal Body Works began business in 1909. When the company was sold to Fisher in 1925 its officers were characterized in a newspaper account as “glad to sell.” It was explained that they felt the future of the hand-hammered aluminum bodies they had pioneered was threatened by mass-produced stamped-steel bodies, which were improving in quality.

Fisher invested in the plant, replacing worn equipment and increasing the workforce from 400 to 700. Production was boosted from 80 bodies per month to more than 400. A big gain came from the introduction of DuPont’s Duco lacquer, which reduced drying time from more than two weeks to about 12 hours.

When Fisher Body bought Fleetwood, General Motors had a 60 percent stake in Fisher and bought the remaining 40 percent in 1926, consolidating Fleetwood production into Fisher’s Detroit operations in 1931.

The Fleetwood buildings were last used by GST Auto Leather (formerly Garden State Tannery), but in 2003 that company moved its U.S. operations to Mexico. Recently the buildings had been vacant and for sale, and demolition was being planned if a buyer was not found by Jan. 1.

The fire was attributed to a window air condition-er that had been set on “heat” and was running to prevent water pipes from freezing up. Just one building, originally used for final assembly, finishing and rail shipping, survived the fire.

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but in 2003 that company moved its U.S. operations to Mexico

proud

to be

an

American

anyhow interesting story Harley, till it got toward the end, then it became just another typical story we have read over and over and over.

Wonder what the insurance payout is going to be for the poor impoverished owners that shipped our futures over the borders ?

behold.......the head of a traitor !

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A terrible shame!......automotive history and it's buildings have been much underated and underappreciated. It is as important as any other cultural element of our lives.

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An associate of mine wrote the history of the Fleetwood Body Company. After reading about this in the newspaper a month ago, I called him. He said that he didn't think it was the main Fleetwood building. The main building, according to him, is concrete and the building that was destroyed was wood.

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A terrible shame!......automotive history and it's buildings have been much underated and underappreciated. It is as important as any other cultural element of our lives.

Naturally! It's the domestic cars industry... America is trying to rid itself of this 'disgrace', not celebrate it.

(Much sarcasm intended--naturally)

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Wow, it burned down on my birthday. So what's the big deal if it was just gonna be torn down a week later anyways?

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Wow... sad. Depressing and disturbing in the most horrible way. :(

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