FLAT ROCK, Mich. - A million. It’s a number that speaks for itself. It’s a number most people strive to attain.
For the team members at Flat Rock Assembly Plant (FRAP), producing 1 million units of the world’s most-recognizable muscle car is not only an attainable goal, it’s what they do for a living.
On April 17 – exactly 49 years after the Mustang was first unveiled at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City – more than 1,200 FRAP team members gathered at the end of the Engine Start line to witness the millionth Mustang produced at the facility rev to life.
It was a day of millions for the prized Pony -- the official Ford Mustang Facebook page broke 5 million fans at nearly the same time as the 1 millionth FRAP Mustang drove off the line.
Behind the wheel of the commemorative pony sat the plant’s longest-working team member, Material Planning and Logistics Manager Ed Salna.
“It was such a proud moment,” Salna said, a 27-year employee of the plant. “It’s all really exciting to me. I was representing the plant and all the team members that have been involved with Mustang. It’s a great car built by a great team. I’m proud of them.”
Salna wasn’t alone in the 2014 ruby-red convertible. Riding shotgun was Raj Nair, group vice president, Ford Global Product Development.
Nair spoke to the Flat Rock workforce about the strong Ford sales worldwide, the new implementations at the plant and the upcoming Fusion production.
“To help meet the growing demand for the new Fusion, we’re bringing jobs back to America and back to Michigan by creating 1,400 jobs here at Flat Rock Assembly Plant,” Nair said to the galvanized crowd. “We simply can’t build enough of [the Fusion].”
Nair, who owns a Shelby GT 500 that rolled out of Flat Rock, commended the workforce on their stellar product.
“Our confidence in making these investments is all thanks to the Flat Rock team,” Nair said. “World-class people doing world-class work in a world-class facility.”
The plant became the only Mustang-producing facility in the world in 2005 and has since built an average of nearly 11,000 Mustangs a month, which has included the Shelby GT 500.
The Pony car’s 1 millionth vehicle represents more than 25 percent of the plant’s production in its 27-years, officially making the Mustang the facility’s most-produced car.
“It’s among the longest-running name plates in the world for a reason,” Plant Manager Tim Young said after the celebration. “This team is made up of the most passionate, professional people and one million Mustangs is just a taste of what we can do.”
Chief Mustang engineer Dave Pericak brought on cheers and whistles when he summarized the essence of America’s favorite muscle car.
“I see a group of people here that understand what we do and that’s not building cars but building dreams,” Pericak said, followed by a roar of excitement from the 1,200-plus FRAP team members. “Mustang is more than a car ¬– it’s a way of life.”