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Parking Lot Series: Muncie Indiana Transmission Plant

The lead photo today is a mid-196os view of an employee parking lot at the Muncie transmission plant located in Muncie, Indiana. The image is a part of a series of pictures taken between 1964 to ’66 documenting a plant expansion and renovation project that was undertaken at the time.

The vehicles parked in the lot date from the late-1940s up to about 1965 and are a mixture of domestic passenger cars, several imported cars, pickup trucks, and a few motorcycles.

Share with us what you find of interest and can identify in the expandable photograph (below) courtesy of Ball State University.

31 responses to “Parking Lot Series: Muncie Indiana Transmission Plant

  1. In the second aisle…this side, 5 cars in, a green ’49-52 Plymouth Suburban. Oher side, 2nd car in, a maroon ’54 Buick B-body..both Special and Century (and C-body Super) had 3 portholes.

    At the end of the 4th aisle appears to be a white over dark rose ’62 Rambler Classic or an Ambassador (same w/b).

    On the left side, just past the red ’62 or later Renault 8, a very basic ’59 LeSabre 2-door sedan in black.

  2. Parked behind the Impala is a 1965 Comet without hub caps. In the parking lot is a white 1959 Pontiac Catalina convertible. Also parked in the lot is a 46 yearly 49 Plymouth, and a 48 Ford sedan.

  3. Along the lower front edge of the photo, looks like a `60 Mercury Monterey sedan cruising past. Second row back facing us is a `53 Ford customline sedan parked next to a `59 Pontiac Catalina cvt.

  4. At the left end of the 3rd aisle is likely a ’61 Rambler Classic in red. Behind it, facing away appears to be a ’57 Bel Air or Two-Ten sedan in white over pink.

  5. The Harley Electra-Glide bagger, is flanked by 2 Asian bikes. The one on the right, looks like a 305 Super Hawk, which could run circles around the H-D. Unsure of the other bike, but it’s no Harley. It was the way of the 60’s, Asian bikes outsold Harley’s by a wide margin. It sure wasn’t that way with cars, where VW’s and British sports cars, were the only foreign makes seen. What, no Dauphine in the lot?

    • The other bike looks to have a red seat, which might narrow the field down a bit. Definitely a Honda I think.

      • Hi Mark, I saw the red seat on the other bike. If it’s not an Italian job, the only other bike that had red seats I could find, was the early 60’s Honda Dream. Kind of looks like a Dream front fender.

    • Your remark about Asian bikes outselling HD reminds me of a piece from Mechanics Illustrated way back when. It was a road test report on a Honda 305 Dream, conducted by Uncle Tom McCahill. He gave the bike itself high Mark’s, but concluded there would be no market for the things in America. Opppssss!

  6. Interesting photo.
    Not many foreign cars…The red Austin Healy Sprite in the front row, a red beetle, next to it what looks like a Mini, and to the far left, next to a Corvair, a red sedan…Perhaps a Simca?

    Several pickups, including one with an early camper shell. Most are 50s vintage except for a kid 60s Chevy at the far right. Near it is a tan 60s Ford.
    As far as old cars…In the c left center behind a black 57 Chevy is a 40s fastback, about six cars to the right and a couple rows further away is a 30s sedan.

  7. I’m impressed by the number of immediate postwar cars — I can see at least four. We know from other parking lot pictures that it was fairly rare at the time to see a car older than ten years old, let alone this many approaching twenty.

    I guess transmission guys took good care of their cars.

    • I think many of the much older cars belonged to people who were just becoming a two car family. In the late fifties our neighbor bought his first second car: a 1939 Buick purchased for $15. It served them for several years before being replaced by a new VW. Then it became a lot car where the kids in the family learned to drive.

  8. A Buick Skylark Sports Wagon (1965?) in the row with the two ’57 Chevs and the ’59 Catalina convertible?

  9. The Chevrolet transmission plant and the BorgWarner transmission plant in Muncie were two different company. The Muncie Chevy Plant was the home of the “Muncie Rock Crusher” 4-speed gear box. BorgWarner grew out of the combination of Warner Gear and German company Borg and Beck. The plant was know as ‘The Gear” by locals. While the Chevrolet plant stayed on 8th Street, BorgWarner expanded to a new plant on Kilgore Avenue, just west of Muncie.

    • As a former GM employee, I concur with you, Ron. The lead photo had to be BorgWarner’s lot. I see way too many Fords in the second row of the lot, and in the 1959/60 timeframe of the photo, GM and the Union would never permit them to park Non-GM products in a Chevrolet lot that close. Non-GM cars would have been relegated to the back of the lot.

      If you parked that close in a Ford, you would have gotten a discrete word in your ear from your foreman or supervisor. …and yes, they really did do that.

  10. Way back in the outer row, is I think a black ’51 or ’52 Chevrolet fastback. Oh so many years ago, I had a black ’52 like that. And although the detail in the photo is not conclusive, the tail-lamps look right for those two years Chevrolet. That basic body was used from ’49 to ’52 on Chevrolets and Pontiacs.
    Also, even farther back, and farther around, in that outer back row, is what appears to be the oldest car in the picture. I “think” it is a large late ’30s sedan. Either that, or it is an early ’50s panel truck? Not near enough detail to make an educated guess what it is. But I do hope it is being well cared for to this day.

  11. It would appear that in the third row ten cars deep and parked next to a red Chevy truck there stands a two-toned black and gray circa 1949 Hudson coupe. And in that same row, the first car parked looks like it might be a ‘46-48 Mercury but I’m not entirely certain that that is in fact the make – definitely mid to late 40’s however. I was living in Rhode Island in ’65 and I remember that as a kid it was pretty rare to see any American car from the 1940’s driving around town, but in this photo there are still a few that were being used as daily drivers.

  12. What the heck. The photo almost looks staged. Nearly every car is neatly backed into its space except along the fence. It strains credulity.

    • Donald, having parked in a factory lot for 16 years, I can tell you that they back in to beat the log jamb at quitting time (and to try to be near the first out of the lot). This was before flex-time and every one got off at once. One guy backing out of a space can hold up a whole line of cars. It’s much faster to pull out.

  13. The bike with the red seat is I think a CA95 In the UK this option was almost unknown but the blue was accepted .10.15 gmt

  14. Have yet to find any Cadillacs but looks like a ’59-’60 Lincoln next to the rear row light pole to the left. Surprising how many ten-to-fifteen year old cars show up, most were likely the second or work car, something older bought for daily transportation to the job while the good new family car stayed in the garage.

  15. Can we date this image to pre-1965, as I don’t see a single Mustang there and I’d guess every parking lot in America had one as soon as they were introduced?

    • Although I don’t see any mustangs I do see on the left of the photo a 65 Galaxie ( Cream with black roof) also the Comet at the front of the photo is also is a 1965. There are also several coke bottle body GM cars that only came out in 1965.
      Not the clearest of photos, but my suspicion is spring 1965

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