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Atlanta Georgia – Automobiles on the Freeway and Train Tracks

Today’s feature image by Floyd E. Jillson for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Newspaper was published on December 12, 1963. The picture contains the Atlanta, Georgia, skyline, new General Motors 1964 automobiles on train cars, and the Southeast Expressway.

The new cars were built at the General Motors Lakewood Heights Assembly Plant that was located about five miles southeast of Atlanta. The plant opened in 1927 and closed in September of 2008 during a downsizing of the number of GM assembly plants. For over eight decades Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Pontiac models were built at the facility. The plant was the site of the first UAW GM sit down strikes in 1936.

Automobile racing also had a long history in the area at the Lakewood Speedway which opened in 1917 for a race between Ralph DePalma and Barney Oldfield and closed in 1979.

Share with us what you find of interest in this photograph courtesy of the Georgia State University Library.

35 responses to “Atlanta Georgia – Automobiles on the Freeway and Train Tracks

    • On our yearly treks to Florida, we’d try and time it so we hit Atlanta at night. One of the few places traffic was stopped at 2 am.

  1. Vivid colors on this photo! Behind the `61 Plymouth facing us, a new-for-`64 Buick LeSabre. To the far right, a real nice white `60 Impala hardtop. I see someone way back in the pack is still driving their early post-WWII Chevy; boy have THEY missed trading cars during some fantastic years in the auto industry!

  2. In the foreground, behind the 1961 PLYMOUTH [non-Fury with “square steering-wheel”] is a new full-sized 1964 BUICK [non-Wildcat].

  3. With the assistance of a magnifying glass on the grainy first photo I believe the train is carrying 64 Chevrolets, both Chevelles and Impalas. Makes sense in that the Atlanta area had two GM plants at that time; Doraville and Lakewood. I believe this train picked up these new Chevy’s as Lakewood.

      • Doraville did all sorts of vehicles. The same year they assembled your Caprice, they were also doing Oldsmobile Cutlass Supremes, and later they’d move on to doing Opel and Saturn vehicles. In the ’70s, they did Chevy Monte Carlos and Pontiac Catalinas, in the ’60s they did Super 88s and Impalas, and in the ’50s they did Star Chiefs and Bonnevilles for Pontiac, 88s and Super 88s for Oldsmobile, and Skylarks and Centurys for Buick.

  4. Possible correction: The cars on the railcars look like Fords. This view is north facing with the state capital in the background further suggesting that these cars are from the nearby Hapeville plant. Ford owned the assembly plant on the southwest side of town from which these cars would be shipped. GM owned an assembly plant on the northeast side of town. Both plants are now shut down (unfortunately).

    • Ken, Thanks for the information, yes, GM had another plant named the Doraville Plant that was located northeast of Atlanta.

      It is possible there are some Fords on their own railroad cars from the plant you mention, but the great majority of them are Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Pontiac models built in the Lakewood Heights Assembly Plant.

      The location has now been ID’d by Facebook reader Aaron Green as the I-75/85 intersection at Pryor Rd west of the Lakewood Heights Assembly Plant located in Lakewood on the southeast of Atlanta as is described in the text.

    • My thought exactly. Also, look at the 63 T -Bird headed southbound in the curve. Loved those cars. I hung out in his area in the late 70’s and had a ball. Wouldn’t be caught dead there now. Too bad!!

  5. Although both GM and Ford have closed their Atlanta assembly plants there are still a lot of cars shipped through town. However, these days the rail cars completely cover the cars to protect from damage. But, if the rail car is stopped you can see the cars inside.

  6. The automobile carrier rail-cars in the photograph are each about the same length as the combined length of the two gondola rail-cars seen on the right. Moving these automobile carrier rail-cars, especially on a tight curve, must have been interesting !!

  7. Lakewood Assembly closed in August of 1990. Doraville Assembly closed in September, 2008. Both dates are according to Wikipedia

  8. The red IH “bobtail” truck appears to be a 1960(ish) BC-D diesel, probably a 180 Cummins. Behind is an IH R190 on the left and Ford C series straight truck next to it. The chip truck might be an IH Emeryville cab over.

  9. It’s striking how dirty the lane centers are – heavy traffic with cars that leaked, apparently, even when new.

    • This also before the PCV valve was mandated that directed crankcase and cylinder head gases back into the engine to be burned.

      Before this the road draft tube was commonly used that directed the gases and some oil under the car.

      • There’s a term I haven’t heard in a while, the “draft tube”. Years ago, saw many a Rambler or Falcon at a stop light with smoke rolling out from under the car.

  10. I’ve struggled to recognize any of the cars on the train as Chevies so I agree they must be something else. A maroon ’64 Impala, Bel Air or Biscayne is the 4th car in the lane on the highway climbing the hill toward the camera though. Great picture!

  11. I was there that day working at a NY based ad agency not too far away, Peachtree Street and North Avenue. I was readying to go to New York to shoot photographs for the Tab roll out. Transferring to the NY agency the following July. Unfortunately, due to the move, I had to sell my ’58 Jaguar XK-150 conv. $2000. Disturbing, I know. That section of the expressway is considerably wider now, the traffic insane and dangerous.

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