Three more Motor City landmarks

Tucker home 2As we’re always saying, there’s automotive history on nearly every corner in the Motor City, and we’re out to prove it. Here are three more industry landmarks.                               



The Motor City’s finest classic car show, the annual Concours d’Elegance of the Americas at St. John’s, is coming July 27. And in its honor, here we’re featuring some automotive landmarks in the general area near and around Plymouth Township, the Detroit suburb where the show is held.

As always, we’ve included address info so you can follow along using Google Maps or other web applications, or you can visit the landmarks in person. If you have any ideas or requests for potential landmark subjects, please drop us a line.


Ford Plymouth plantEven as Henry Ford was reinventing mass production and putting America on wheels, he never forgot his agricultural roots. His village industries, as they were known, were small, decentralized parts plants where farmers could supplement their seasonal income with assembly line work.

Ford built this little cottage factory in 1923 near the corner of Hines and Wilcox Roads in the village of Plymouth. In this facility, all the machine taps used at the River Rouge complex (15 miles east) were manufactured. After Ford closed the plant in 1948, the Wayne County Road Department used the building for several decades, but it has been vacant in recent years. If you look past the plywood and white paint, the distinctive Albert Kahn architecture is still evident.


Alter plantThis building, also in Plymouth, was the original home of the Alter Motor Car Co., which produced the Alter automobile from 1914 to 1917. The company reportedly employed over 100 men at one time and built around 1000 cars, though only one example is known to survive today.

Today this frame structure, located on Farmer St. at the intersection of the former Pere Marquette Railway, is the home of the C.D. Sparling Co., manufacturer of bathroom fixtures. The former Alter plant has been nicely preserved and restored, we are happy to report.


Tucker home 1This stately yet unpretentious residence (also shown in the lead photo) at 110 North Park St. in Ypsilanti, just off Michigan Ave., is the former home of auto industry maverick Preston Tucker. The decorative field stone is a familiar feature on better homes in the area.

While he is best known as the father of the Tucker 48 automobile and also as manager of the 1935 Miller-Ford Indy 500 effort, Tucker had a long and colorful auto industry career. He was a crackerjack new car salesman, a Lincoln Park motorcycle cop, and he operated a machine shop, the Ypsilanti Machine & Tool Co., from a building behind this home. On the day after Christmas in 1956, Tucker succumbed to lung cancer. He was only 53 years old.


2 thoughts on “Three more Motor City landmarks

  1. Amazing. I lived here my whole life and never heard of the Alter automobile.

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