When I am not digging around swap meets for ‘55 and ‘62 Cadillac parts, I’m usually looking for old photos to use for stories in Old Cars Weekly or simply for my own collection. By coincidence, we’re working on the Carlisle and Hershey issues, and I finally had the chance to use some photos I found at Fall Carlisle a couple years ago.
While pouring through a vendor’s photographs at Carlisle, I came across a small photo album filled with snapshots of a fire. From the aged description penciled on the album cover, and with the help of a vendor, I learned I was looking at photographs of the dramatic blaze that razed General Motors’ new-in-’53 Livonia plant built expressly to build the Hydra-Matic transmission. I bought the album for a future story in Old Cars Weekly.
In the 2010 Hershey issue, “Motor City Milestones” columnist Byron Olsen beats me to the punch by describing the short story of the plant, a sort of “Titanic” of automotive factories. The giant factory was built with many fireproof features, but shortly after it was built, it was destroyed by fire, taking several lives and causing GM to install Buick Dynaflows in Cadillacs and Oldsmobiles for part of the 1953 model year.
Below is a picture from that album that will appear with Olsen’s story. It and others will be published in the Oct. 14 Hershey issue, which will be available for free at our booths in the Hershey flea market.
1954 GM Motorama art print