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Last Fiero Rolls Off Line In Pontiac

August 17, 1988

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ The last Pontiac produced in Pontiac by General Motors Corp. has rolled of the assembly line, ending more than 60 years of auto production in this city which lent its name to the automobile.

The last two sporty Fieros produced at the plant Tuesday were turned over to two workers who won raffles. They were among the 1,400 Group employees placed on indefinite layoff with the plant closing.

As the last Fieros moved off the line, workers were hoping transfer slips would be awaiting them when they got home.

″It’ll be there,″ said utility worker Otto Hardwig, 38, of Oxford. ″If not, I’ll do dishes or sweep floors.″

″I’d gladly return the car to get my job back,″ said Mike Kelley, a truck driver at the plant who won the two-seat vehicle that was discontinued due to slow sales.

More than 370,000 cars had been built since they were introduced in the 1984 model year. The last vehicles came off the production line about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

″My father had seven sons who have over 100 years in this place,″ said Daniel Lemaster, 51. ″All that service ... now this.″

Though some GM trucks and engines still are built in Pontiac, cars named for the city will be built in factories in eight other cities, including Lansing and Ypsilanti.

The shutdown is the latest in a series of plant closings and cutbacks at the complex. A rear-wheel-drive assembly line and a foundry were closed last year.

In an effort to comply with terms of its 1987 labor pact with the United Auto Workers prohibiting plant closings, GM listed the shutdown as an ″idling,″ implying the plant might reopen.

The automaker, however, has made no plans at this point that would pump new life into the old factory, which dates back to 1925 when the old Fisher Body Co. originally erected the building.

The Fiero initially was a hit with consumers, but by mid-1985 sales went into a long, slow decline that never reversed. The slide was intensified by a shift in consumer preferences away from two-seaters.

Workers at the plant were praised by the company for their efforts in refining the team concept and creativity in improving productivity.

″General Motors is pretty pleased with the contributions the Fiero team and Fiero plant made to GM. It will have a lasting impact on GM,″ said GM spokeswoman Kathy Tanner.

Layoffs at the Fiero plant began last week and will be completed by Sept. 15, GM officials said.

Once the shutdown is complete, about 50 hourly workers will remain at the Fiero plant to tend the idled machinery and take care of other jobs related to the plant’s idling, the automaker said.

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