Sparking the Auto Industry Working at AC Spark Plug


AC Spark Plug has been referred to as “one of the most iconic auto parts names in history,” and is a big part of Flint’s and General Motors’ past. The manufacturing facility underwent many name changes over the years, originally called Champion Ignition after its founder, Albert Champion. GM purchased it in 1909 and in 1922, it became AC Spark Plug Company. The Flint factories extended from Dort Highway, along Robert T. Longway Boulevard to Center Road, and the operations survived many highs and lows. In its heyday, AC employed as many as 14,000 workers. Last known as Flint Delphi East, the factories produced numerous automotive components such as instrument panels, instrument clusters, spark plugs, filters, air meters and fuel pumps. In 2006, AC Spark Plug closed its doors and in 2013, Flint Delphi East (Plant 43) ceased operations and relocated the bulk of its work to Mexico.

Generations of Flint families were proud to have jobs at AC Spark Plug. My City Magazine readers shared some memories of working there.


“I worked at AC for six weeks on third shift in the Air Filter Department. I was home from Eastern Michigan University for summer break. The guy who was the set-up man was a college graduate from Jackson State University. He was waiting for an opening in another area. We had a lot to talk about because my dad was from Jackson. He knew some of my relatives.”
Shirley Luckado-Reynolds
“AC Spark Plug closed in 2006 and while Delco (Plant 43) ceased operations in 2013, the old Oil Filter Plant (Plant 7) still employs nearly 700 UAW Members and operates as a CCA (Customer Care & Aftermarket) Processing Center. I miss the people I worked with and had the honor to represent. I also miss seeing the clock tower every morning.”
Art Reyes
“I had 30 great years there. I met good people and had good relationships with some. AC Spark Plug was good to me.”
Charles Mckenzie
“Charles Mckenzie, you were my very first job setter at AC Spark Plug, Plant 5, Division 11. We worked on the Truck Panel Line second shift, March 14, 1977. It is so nice to see you are still around. I’ve only seen you once since I retired in 2007. We worked with many wonderful people through the years at AC.”
Dee Porter
“I am a grateful retiree from UAW Local 651. I was employed by General Motors for 30 years, March 14, 1977 to March 1st, 2007, when I hired in to AC Spark Plug, Division of GM. Through the years, the name was changed several times, but the same people continued to run the business, and employees continued to make high quality parts. AC spark plugs, air filters, oil filters, gas filters, transmission filters, air meters, cruise controls, circuit boards and instrument clusters were all made and assembled in our factory. We worked under these company names: AC Spark Plug, AC Delco, Delco Electronics, Delphi East Energy & Engine Management, Flint. Peak employment was the summer of 1978, with 13,000 employees. When I retired in 2007, there were less than 1,500 employees. Sadly, demolition of the Dort Highway AC Spark Plug Complex started in 2008. A small section of Plant 6, on the corner of Averill Ave. at Robert T. Longway Blvd. is still standing, but is partially torn down. AC was a great place to work, with wonderful people! Great memories!”
Dee Porter
“Both of my grandparents worked there, through to retirement. They walked to work every day.”
Lynn Hathaway Scarlett
“My father worked there. Miss the old place.”
Penny Payer
“My dad retired from there after 35 years. He was a coordinator and made spark plugs. It broke his heart when they took it down to cement.”
Dianna Dell Straud
“My grandmother, Rebecca Cummings, worked at AC in the ’60s and ’70s until the early ’80s. I remember going there on Family Day in 1975 or ’76. She worked in the cruise control area at that time.”
Thomas Cummings
“I grew up on Wisconsin Avenue off Vernon, so we were three to four blocks away from the plant. As a kid, I remember the big tank, and it always had a star on it at Christmas. Many of our neighbors worked at AC and walked to work.”
Rosemary Halloran-Cronkright
“My mother-in-law hired in at AC around 1955, and the weekly paycheck changed her family’s way of life from poverty to a middle-class living.”
Larry Lee
“AC, along with the other factories, left the city of Flint. We haven’t been the same since they all abandoned Flint.”
Deborah Lowry
“Look here, AC Spark Plug. ♥”
Steffanie & Sam Isaac




Our thanks to these City-zens for sharing their flashbacks! ◆


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