“To come in and see everything being empty … it was really emotional — a very emotional time for everybody, even management,” Allen said. “You could see it in the general foreman’s eyes. It was a real (tough) day for a lot of people. It’s been a real emotional week.”
The last of the 3.8-liter, V-6 engines came off the line at Plant 36 during first shift Friday morning and about 280 hourly, skilled trades and management employees came face-to-face with their work futures: retirements, buyouts, layoffs or new job assignments.
• Still used to power the Buick Lucerne and the Buick LaCrosse.
• Built since 1988, the engine is one of the oldest domestically-produced car engines. Its production ended Friday in Flint.
• More than 30 million of the engines have been built here.
• The 3.8-liter V6 engine was built by members of UAW Local 599 in Plant 36 at GM Powertrain Flint North.
Source: General Motors
Workers here have known for years that the engine was being phased out by GM, but only found out recently that the line would run for the last time Friday.
Joe White, former superintendent at the plant, called the 3800 “one of the better ones,” a “lifesaver for the Buick cars (and) for GM as a whole.
“It’s been a heck of a good engine. It really has,” White said.
The engine shutdown won’t close the entire Flint North complex. Allen is among those who will transfer to one of three other buildings on the site that produce a variety of parts, including vehicle door hinges and transmission components.
GM planned a celebration Friday of the powerful engine as well as the plant’s workers. Company and UAW officials told employees, their families and retirees that they helped give Flint its reputation for building great vehicle engines.
“People actually buy vehicles because of this motor,” said UAW Region 1-C Assistant Director Norwood Jewel. “Be very proud (and) never forget that.”
GM recently announced plans to build a new plant in Flint that could produce engines for the Chevrolet Volt as well as for other passenger cars like the Chevrolet Cruze.
Jewel said Local 599 members “helped secure a new engine plant” for the area because of their track record.
“You really did build one heck of an engine,” he said.
The 3800 achieved excellent gas mileage — more than 30 miles per gallon was not uncommon for drivers, according to White. And several vehicles powered by the engine at Friday’s celebration had well over 100,000 miles on the odometers and are still running strong.
“We built a great engine — right down to the last one that came off the line,” said Kathleen Dilworth, plant manager of Flint North.
The last engine to be built at the Flint Michigan plant came off the end of the line in factory #36 at 9:55 am August 22, 2008. A rough total of 36 million Buick engines have been built since 1903. The 3800 series has been built since 1988 with over ten million built. The 3800 was based on the V6 developed during the early 60’s and reintroduced during the 70’s.