The Ford Richmond Assembly Plant in Richmond, California, was the largest assembly plant to be built on the West Coast. It was first opened on August 1, 1931, replacing an older facility across the Bay in San Francisco. The Richmond location was chosen in part due to its direct deep water outlet for freighters in the Pacific trade, which included Seattle and Portland. Designed by architect Albert Kahn, it is an excellent example of 20th century industrial architecture. During the model changeover in the fall of 1938, the plant was set up for the production of the new Mercury, supplying the West Coast as well as the Hawaiian Islands. The 27-millionth Ford car, a 1939 Deluxe Ford Sedan, was built in Richmond on February 15, 1939.
Due to the U.S. entry into World War II, civilian vehicle production was discontinued and on March 15, 1942, the plant began producing army trucks and combat vehicles. Civilian vehicle assembly resumed in late 1945 and 25.838 passenger cars and 8.612 trucks were produced in 1946. The growth of the San Francisco Bay area demanded even more production and since there was no room at the Richmond site for expansion, the decision was made to construct a new facility 50 miles to the south, in San Jose. The site was 120 acres of ranch land owned by the Wrigley family, of chewing gum fame. On February 4, 1955, the Richmond plant was closed for good and all operations were transferred to the new Milpitas complex.
The plant is now part of the Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It currently houses the National Park Service visitor center, several private businesses and the Craneway Pavilion, an event venue.
SAN FRANCISCO BAY BROOKLIN CLUB
The Brooklin factory pulled out all stops in creating this very special model for the S.F.B.B.C. in 2003, modifying the 1948 Ford F1 Pick-up into a Light Fire vehicle that might have serviced the Richmond Assembly Plant. The entire vehicle is, of course, finished in a brilliant fire engine red, with white identifying lettering on the doors. Interior is done in dark grey with black steering wheel. Details used to modify the standard Pick-up include a chromed grille, front bumper, windshield wipers and rear view mirror. The cab sports a siren and two warning lights, as well as two plated grab handles. The bed is completely re-done and includes double hose reels (complete with plated nozzles) and folded lengths of hose over a large storage compartment. Smaller details include a red tool box and four hose connector tubes. The left side of the truck features a hose connector and gauge panel, a section of ladder and a fire extinguisher in chrome. The right side has a step panel on the fender, an axe and another fire extinguisher in brass. The front license plate is light blue and reads "CALIFORNIA S.F.B.B.C.". 200 of these beautiful fire trucks were produced.
You can find many other Brooklin stories on the fourth edition of the Brooklin Models Collectors Guide. Click here