Tuesday, August 29, 2006

First Chevrolet S-10 part of GM celebration at Moraine plant

First Chevrolet S-10 part of GM celebration at Moraine plant
It has been a quarter of a century since the automaker began producing road vehicles in the Dayton area.
By John Nolan
Staff Writer

MORAINE Displayed for visitors near several eye-catching cars from the early 20th century, the orange-red Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck housed in a Carillon Historical Park building appears rather plain, if not homely.

But it has noteworthy status in the region's history. It was the first vehicle produced in 1981 at the General Motors assembly plant in Moraine, and thus became the first road vehicle assembled in the Dayton area since the Maxwell Motor Co. closed in the 1920s.

This week, the Chevy S-10 will make a brief return to the place of its manufacture as GM borrows it to begin a year-long celebration of 25 years of building cars or trucks in Moraine.

The pickup was the first one off the production line at Moraine on Aug. 26, 1981. It was a 1982 model, part of Chevrolet's introduction of a line of compact pickups meant to compete with imports from Japan.

GM had just spent $1.2 billion to convert its former Frigidaire refrigerator plant in Moraine to a truck-building plant, re-employing hundreds who had lost their jobs when GM sold the Frigidaire division in 1979 and it was closed.

An executive of a contractor that had overseen the rebuilding of the plant for auto production bought that first Chevy S-10, then donated it for display.

The truck's base price in 1981: $6,269, for the simplest model that featured a four-cylinder engine and four-speed, manual transmission. (That would be $14,034 in 2006 dollars.)

Dayton History, the private nonprofit that runs the Carillon Park buildings, has agreed to lend the Chevy briefly this week to GM Moraine. The truck is to be picked up Thursday, then returned Friday afternoon after it serves as a centerpiece for an internal ceremony involving GM Moraine's shift workers and management. They will serve cake, watch a video highlighting the past years of automaking history, and view a display of some of Moraine's current sport utility vehicles, including the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy and Buick Rainier.

The Moraine employees are discussing plans for other events next year to mark the 25th anniversary. Still in planning phases, but they could include a parade or festival, a community celebration next summer and even an event to which the public could bring classic cars for display, plant spokeswoman Jessica Peck said.

GM also has developed a logo for the anniversary celebration. The logo includes a reference to the plant's presence of more than 55 years in the Miami Valley, which incorporates its Frigidaire era.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2242 or


Copyright ©2006 Cox Ohio Publishing, Dayton, Ohio, USA. All rights reserved.


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