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January 31, 1942 – The last pre-war Chryslers, Plymouths and Studebakers

Under the Lend-Lease act the US auto industry transitioned 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 was a Ford sedan, which would leave the factory just two days later. Due to a government ration on automobile sales, as of February 22 there was a stockpile of approximately 520,000 new cars that would be 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 in order to build tanks, trucks, planes, bombs, boats, guns, ammunition, helmets and all other materials necessary for battle. 1942 Chrysler Town and Country 9 Passenger, produced in 1941 prior to restrictions on necessary war materials, such as chromium, being placed. By Jack Snell, CC2.0. The auto industry went to war building, tanks, Jeeps, weapons, planes and so much more. While this image shows the Boeing Plant producing B-17Es in December 1942, it provides great detail into the large scale of manufacturing that occurred.
At Ford’s Willow Run, a manufacturing plant built by Ford in early 1942 strictly to build aircraft, men and women worked side by side to produce parts for the bomber planes. On average, one B-24 bomber would leave the factory every hour.

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