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January 31, 1942 – Civilian auto production wraps up – WWII efforts begin

Under the Lend-Lease Act, the US auto industry was to transition from building personal and commercial cars and trucks to war vehicles, machinery and weapons by early 1942. It was on this day in 1942 that the last pre-war Chryslers, Plymouths and Studebakers would roll off of their respective assembly lines. The last civilian car produced in America prior to a full switch into war production was a Ford sedan, which would leave the factory two days later. 

Men and women worked along side each other in factories that produced essential tools of war. COVER: Boeing bombers took the place of sedans and coupes in production facilities across America as automakers supported the war efforts.

Due to a government ration on automobile sales, as of February 22 there was a stockpile of approximately 520,000 new cars were available for purchase by those the government deemed “essential drivers,” such as doctors and police officers. Following the end of civilian production nearly all automotive factories were retooled to build tanks, trucks, planes, bombs, boats, guns, ammunition, helmets and all other materials necessary for battle.