Making Cars in the Great Lakes: Inside Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant

Before I left Chicago for points east, I had a chance to tour Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant, a complex that finishes about 1160 vehicles a day. A great majority of those are Ford Explorers, pieced together by line workers wearing safety glasses and headphones, working pneumatic tools in a hypnotizing ballet of endless repetition. Whir, whir, whir.

Walking the floor, following pedestrian pathways marked by bright yellow paint, I watched linemen and women raise engine assemblies into vehicle bodies, hang doors and bolt wheels, as conveyor belts ceaselessly inched the unfinished machines ever forward. (A tip: When touring the plant, one steps over the drive-chains running through channels in the floor.)

My tour guide Larry, a dead ringer for Jesse Ventura, even let me jump in a just-finished Explorer the moment it rolled off the line. Videographer Stephen Greenwood, who’s riding along for this part of my ride, captured the mesmerizing shots after the break.

Traveling the American Road – Ford Assembly Plant Tour

Win $200 from REI and Ford Explorer on our Facebook page

2011 Ford Explorer
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ford and Gadling have teamed up to bring you $200 toward whatever REI adventures, gear and clothing you fancy!

The giveaway is in celebration of the new, reinvented 2011 Ford Explorer (above). This vehicle not only has the right name for a traveler (“explorer”), but it includes an all-new Advanced Terrain Management System with special modes for mud, snow and sand. Other features include industry-first rear inflatable seat belts, Trinity front impact structure, AdvanceTrac with RSC (Roll Stability Control) and Curve Control functionality, and it aims to raise your expectations about SUV fuel efficiency with a 20 percent miles-per-gallon improvement from their 2010 model. The vehicle has the tagline “Redefining what it means to be an SUV,” and you can read lots more about it on the 2011 Ford Explorer website or become a fan on the Ford Explorer Facebook page, where you can find videos, executive interviews and more.

And now, the giveaway: this $200 REI gift card can totally stock your adventure vehicle with gear for all terrains, including boots, snowshoes, paddles, skis, camping equipment, backpacks and state-of-the-art electronics. They also have attractive, comfortable apparel for men, women and kids (for the less outdoorsy).

In addition to the $200 gift card, you can have an adventure tip that you wrote featured on the Ford Explorer Facebook page.

How to win:To enter our first-ever Facebook Giveaway, follow these three steps — and be sure and read carefully or we might not see your entry!

1. To enter, visit the Gadling Facebook page and click “Like.” (If you’ve already done that, the button won’t show up and you don’t have to do it again.)

2. Go to your own profile and type the “@” symbol, then the word “Gadling,” like “@Gadling.” The icon for the Gadling Facebook page will come up, and by clicking it, you’ll be tagging us in your post. That’s how we’ll see it!

3. Share an adventure travel tip of yours — anything is fair game, from rock climbing to cross-country skiing.

We’ll choose one winner to receive the $200 gift card to REI and have their tip featured on the Ford Explorer Facebook page! You know you need something for your next adventure. Get it free — or at least $200 cheaper.


  • The comment must be left before Wednesday, September 1st at 5pm Eastern time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will receive a $200 gift card to REI and have their tip featured on Ford Explorer’s Facebook page.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • Prize valued at $200.
  • Click here for complete Official Rules