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Trenton Engine milestones: first Hemi to last NS V6

Photos provided by Dave Van Buren

In 1951, the first part of the engine plant and a coal-powered generating station (built by the local utility) started construction. The plant is still active today. Let’s take a look at some of its milestones... such as the explosive groundbreaking:

Trenton Engine groundbreaking

In 1964, Hemi production started (for racing cars)—and the new engine took the top three spots at the Daytona 500.

1964 426 hemi engine

There was a Big Snow in 1965.

Big Snow of 1965

A big new sign was erected, with two new Dodge Chargers posing for pictures with it:

Chrysler Trenton Engine Plant sign going up

Chrysler Trenton Engine Plant sign with two Dodge Chargers

This sign was considerably prouder than those which followed...

1999 sign

2002 Trenton Engine sign

Making Engine #7,000,000 in 1968.

Trenton Engine #7,000,000 (7 million) - a big V8

1968 - 7 million engines at Trenton

A new blockhouse was built in 1969.

block house

There were two major landmarks in 1978. The first was a proud one— making their 15 millionth engine, a slant six.

slant six - the 15 millionth engine at Trenton

Susan Pizzimenti noted that Jim Dekeyser (1938-2020) is the third from the left in the photo above (and at far left in the photo below). Jim started as a superintendent’s clerk and retired as Plant Manager of Trenton Engine in 1994—to become president of Clawson Concrete of Wixom. He was awarded the Chairman’s Award for top quality for the 2.5 liter engine launch in 1987.

Jim Dekeyser, Trenton plant manager, with 15 millionth engine (slant six)

15 millionth engine


Trenton Engine now made a wide variety of engines, including two completely different four cylinders, as this brochure shows:

engine plant brochure

engine plant flier

But then, they also stopped making V8s—which had been at the plant since it was first built. Still, Trenton would (relatively) soon begin production of the new 2.2 liter engine—which would be its mainstay for years, used in nearly every Chrysler Corporation vehicle from the little Omni to the big minivan.

Trenton's last V8 engine, 1978

Last Trenton V8, 1978

The 2.2s flew by, by the hundreds of thousands—and then the new V6 engines arrived, the 3.3, 3.8, and then the 3.5; Department 621 made both 3.3 and 3.8, and Department 521 made the 3.5 and then went to 3.8s when the iron block 3.5 ended, finally making the 3.3. A new 3.8 liter crank line came in 1996, and the old crank line was upgraded to improve the microfinish. In 2007, the Neon line’s almost-new main bearing grinders were changed over to work in the V6 crank line. The 4.0 V6 joined in 2010 for minivans and Nitros—it was to be a brief stay.

Last NS minivan engine

The final Prowler 3.5:

Last Prowler V6 engine

In December 2010, the last 3.3 and 4.0 liter V6 left the lines. The final 3.8 was made on May 20, 2011, and Trenton North, the original plant, was closed for a time. By then, Pentastar engines had started production in Trenton South, next door.

One of the first Pentastar V6 engines at Trenton

Somewhere after the last Prowler engine, two local landmarks came down: the distinctive blue water tower with the Chrysler name and logo, and the Chrysler Air Raid Siren which had been mounted for decades on a tall tower...

Chrysler water tower

taking down tower


air raid siren

taking down siren

trenton milestone

Chrysler Air Raid Siren, Trenton Engine

Building Trenton Engine
to Make Classic V8s and Air Raid Sirens

Building and Running the Slant Six Line at Trenton
Making the legendary Leaning Tower of Power

Making V8 engines
Trenton in pictures

Trenton Engine milestones
1964 Hemi to Pentastar

Trenton Engine: Building New V6 Lines in 2000
A pictorial with explanations and stories

Tales From the Factory: Matching Pistons and Blocks
How the factory managed precision problems, back in the day

Other Chrysler plants and such

  • Brampton: Making big Mopars, then STLA Medium: From muscle cars to the new midsize series

  • Building Trenton Engine: to Make Classic V8s and Air Raid Sirens

  • Building and Running the Slant Six Line at Trenton: Making the legendary Leaning Tower of Power

  • Innovation factory: Chrysler Technology Center (CTC): The most advanced engineering facility in the world for years

  • Making V8 engines: Trenton in pictures

  • Dodge Main: Sturdy car creation complex: Multi-story car factory

  • Making Mopar Vans in Windsor: Dodge B-van factory photos

  • Making Cars in Canada: Factory Photos: A pictorial with some captions

  • Making Minivans in Windsor: Chrysler factory photos

  • Creating the Chrysler Technology Center (CTC): The long story of the massive complex

  • Mopar Engine-Based Windsor Factory Photos: Putting engines together in Canada

  • When Chrysler made cars in LA: The westernmost Mopar plant

  • Trenton Engine milestones: 1964 Hemi to Pentastar

  • Off the Line: People Doing Other Things in Chrysler Canada Plants: A pictorial of the labs, factory, and computer control areas

  • Trenton Engine: Building New V6 Lines in 2000: A pictorial with explanations and stories

  • Mopar plants: rumors, what they make, and what they made: Updated now and then

  • Tales From the Factory: Matching Pistons and Blocks: How the factory managed precision problems, back in the day

  • What was in a 1950s Chrysler factory: A partial listing of all the things that Chrysler factories needed - especially Dodge Main

  • The Walter P. Chrysler Museum, 1999-2012: Inside the museum which recalled Chrysler’s many accomplishments (and some of its follies)

  • Trenton: V8, Slant Six, and Trans Four Engines By Year: How many did they make? By model year, 1957 to 1989

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