Otto Von Bismarck is famously quoted as saying that laws and sausage are the two things it’s best not to be seen being made. Fortunately Otto passed away before his vision for an industrialized Germany extended to the making of automobiles so he didn’t include cars in his dictum. Still, I bet Otto Von would have loved to drive on the Autobahn. German auto manufacturers have for decades felt the opposite of Bismarck, offering not only factory pick-up of their products, but also the opportunity to watch the machines being built. Volkswagen even famously designed their Phaeton factory (try saying that five times fast) as a customer-friendly boutique, offering buyers the opportunity to become one with their impossibly expensive VW even before its existence.
Other factories aren’t so visitor-friendly, but would make for an amazing experience to see. I heard once of a Nissan factory that was so heavily automated that they saved money by keeping the lights turned off and the temperature at a level that machines like, but people don’t. That would be amazing to see in full swing, albeit likely requiring a set of night vision goggles to do so. The Saturn plant in Tennessee would have also been an interesting factory to visit, as according to the PR videos, all the workers there were as happy as clams. They’re probably not that happy now that the brand is defunct.
Sadly for me, the factory tour that I’d most like to take is no longer possible. I would have loved to have toured Ford’s Rouge River plant during its heyday in the 1920s. Oh sure the factory still exists, now covered in a vedant living roof, but back in the day it was the most impressive industrial complex in the world, where raw materials would enter on one side, exiting as completed cars on the other. It must have been amazing. I guess I’ll just have to make do with visiting that era vicariously:
That’s my dream factory tour, and one that sits atop a list of others, each almost as desirable a destination. What factory would you most like to visit?
Image: [Motor Trend]