The General Motors engine manufacturing plant in Tonawanda, a suburb of Buffalo, is the largest complex of its kind in the world. The 3,800 workers at this 2.5 million square-foot engine manufacturing complex produce four, six, and eight-cylinder engines. The original GM factory was constructed in 1937 and overlooked the Niagara River. This Chevrolet Motor and Axle Plant initially produced six-cylinder motors and axle assemblies. Between 1941 and 1945, the plant produced 14- and 18-cylinder Pratt and Whitney aircraft engines and G.E. jet engines. After numerous reorganizations and building expansions, the plant eventually became the GM Powertrain Group, Tonawanda Engine in 1990.
General Motors began operations in its new “agile manufacturing” plant in 2003. The $500 million, 600,000-square-foot engine plant will manufacture the GM Vortec engines to be used in GM trucks. The demolition of Plant No. 5 to make room for the new plant resulted in our salvaging Douglas fir rafters from the building’s roof.