Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Some details from the Lordstown Assembly plant changeover from Vega to Monza in 1977 to 1980

 That would be Vega and Astre,  to  Monza, Sunbird, Skyhawk, and Starfire.
I'll use "Monza+" to indicate all four of these models.

Thats going from 2 different models to 4 different models.
Only a high capacity, state of the art plant could tackle this.

In this blog installment, I'm searching out information about the Lordstown Assembly  plant, as it changed over from the last 1977 Vega built,  to the 1977 Monza and Sunbird coupe, and then onto the full line-up of 1978's. Coupes and Hatchbacks.  It's a work in progress. Check back from time to time!

Here's my finding's on the Chevy Vega /Pontiac Astre to Monza+ change-over at the Lordstown Ohio plant in 1977.
In early January of 1977, the Plant shut down for five week's. This was due to in part to an oversupply of Vega and Astre model's, and to change over some area's of the plant to accommodate the Monza and Sunbird.

 The Lordstown Assembly plant would start back up making '77 Monza town coupes, and Sunbird coupes (notchbacks). Along with the final 1977 Vega's. 

The V8 Engine installation was new this year for this plant. It had already been accomplished in the St.Therese Quebec, Canada Plant for the past 3 years.
The Engine line had to be adjusted to install engines from the top. The new V6 and V8's couldn't be installed from below like the Vega 140 4cyl. So new conveyors had to be built and installed.

The paint department got an upgrade to be able to paint and prep the new urethane parts on the Monza and Sunbird. 

This was done during a 4+ week shutdown from @ Jan, 10th 1977 to 6:30 am Monday morning Feb 14th of 1977.

3,000 Workers were called back to show up by 6:30AM Monday Morning February 14, 1977.. 
The Vega and Astre would keep on being assembled but the new lines would be in place and operational allowing the Monza and Sunbird to slip into the mix.
The first Lordstown Monza and Sunbird were done and rolling out on Wednesday February 16th, 1977.(Another report said Friday the 18th)  8,500 worker's helped in assembling them.  The first one is in a picture here..

Thru the first part of 1977, the Plant operated one shift, and the line ran at 85 per hour, but only 14 an hour were 1977 Monza's and or Sunbird's.

The line for 1977's at Lordstown was totally stopped on July 22nd, 1977. 
It would be restarted again, running the full 1978 line-up on August 22nd, 1978.
This later 4+ week shut down allowed for the final changes to be made to accommodate the Coupe and Hatchback versions in all 4 different makes. Chevy, Pontiac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. 

On Restart, 6:30 AM Monday August 22nd, 1977 The plant ran one eight hour shift. 
The line ran at 70 car's an hour but within the first few days, there was a shortage of parts (alternator's) due to a strike at a Delco Remy plant in Anderson Ind.
The line had been moving slowly for a few days to compensate. The previous Thursday it was reported that the line was crawling at only 43 unit's per hour. The line was Halted on Tuesday the 30th of August.
I'm not sure when the line got moving again, I would think it was the next day or shortly thereafter. 

On October 4th 1977..a second eight hour shift was added, and the line speed was up to 70 cars an hour, a slightly slower pace than the Vega.

With the line running at 70 cars per hour that equaled 1,120 cars per 16 hour production day. 

The H body Model year, like most other cars.. started in August of the previous year. So to begin at the 1978 Model Year means to start at the date of Monday, Aug 22nd 1977... The plant ran right on to August 18th of 1978. 242 days of assemblies. 267,531 assembled vehicles. That actual total equals the above totals. That's @ 1096 cars per day.. 69 Car's an hour.. Over one per minute. Leaving the plant under it's own power and into the shipping yard. The math holds true.

As sales remained strong some overtime Saturdays were involved. 2 in April are documented in archived data. Trim tag data has revealed some saturdays in other months as well..It had been the first time the plant had assembled in overtime hours since 1973!

The First Oldsmobile Starfire off the line was a Prize giveway...
"" December 1, 1977: Paula Nolfie of Marmion Ave. is given the keys to a new 1978 Oldsmobile Starfire, the first off the line at the General Motors Assembly Plant at Lordstown. She won the car in a contest conducted by the Youngstown district's four Oldsmobile dealers. ""

On May 19th of 1978 the Olds Starfire added the "Firenza" to it's model line.  This was the Friday before my red spyder was assembled.

Aside from a few part shortages. The line ran steady right through to the 1979 models.  1978's and 79 were record sales years, and thus the line was sped up another notch on July 30th 1979 to 80 Cars an hour. Workers were now putting in 10 hour shifts.

GM's 100 millionth car was a 1979 Chevy Monza. A 1979 Beige Town Coupe, sold to a Dr. Jane B Dunlap, of Akron, Ohio. As a present to herself for just completing her Doctorate program. It was produced Wednesday, February 28th.. Driven off the line at 10:42 am EST, by Robert Lund. Chevrolet General Manager.

The Buick Skyhawk and Oldsmobile Starfire models were produced thru December 21st 1979. (1980 Models) 
Cavalier, Cobalt, z24, Supercharged, Subcompact, Fastest
Here's an '79 Oldsmobile Starfire Firenza getting the finishing touches on the line in 1979. 

After they were gone, it was only Monza and Sunbird. On March 24th of 1980 the line speed was increased to 90 units an hour.

Production extended passed the usual August change-over. The Monza and Sunbird were selling well and the J-body replacement wasn't quite ready yet.

                    --The Official end date of the H-body model line---  

 The extended 1980 Production model run came to an end on:

 Thanksgiving break, November, 26th 1980. As the last monza drove away under it's own power.. The line was immediately shut down and dismantled. To make way for the new J-body conveyors and set-up.   
From a Plant Manager..[the line ended]"With the 1,576,758th car, 'give or take a hundred'" 

It's rumored that GM owns the very last Monza off the line, a plain looking Grey coupe.
Vin #203,934
 That would equate to 34,516 Monza's being built in the extended production run. 
Lordstown Ohio. assembly
Very Last Chevrolet Monza off the Production Line..

No comments:

Post a Comment