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American Central Manufacturing

Connersville, Indiana


American Central Manufacturing, commonly abbreviated to ACM by Jeep collectors, produced the body tubs for the Willys MA, MB and CJ-2A. They also made many of the bodies for the Ford GPW jeep.

Like many automotive manufacturers of the time, American Central had it's origin in several other companies. The Central Manufacturing Company was formed on April 7, 1896 in Connersville, Indiana and started building woodwork for vehicles. By 1903 they were making wooden automobile bodies for Cadillac. A fire in 1905 destroyed the factory as well as the prototype and plans for their own design automobile. A new plant was built on the north side of 18th Street. This would become the site for the large ACM complex in future years. As automobiles changed from wood to metal construction they started to produce the metal bodies for many different automobile manufacturers, including Auburn.

Over the years the Cord Corporation purchased the Auburn Automobile Company and the Central Manufacturing Company, as well as many other automobile companies. In about 1935 Auburn started to produce a line of kitchen cabinets and sinks in addition to automobiles. These kitchen products would become more important in future years. During difficult times in 1940 a bankruptcy reorganization agreement resulted in the formation of Auburn Central Manufacturing Corporation. It was made up of the former Auburn Automobile and Central Manufacturing Companies.

On March 10, 1941 Willys-Overland awarded Auburn Central Manufacturing a contract for 1600 jeep bodies. This was the start of jeep body production that would last until 1948. The first body was shipped just 41 days after the order was placed. More jeep body contracts were secured from both Willys-Overland and Ford Motor Company during World War II. In addition to jeep bodies they also made trailer bodies and aircraft components. In March, 1942 Auburn Central changed its name to American Central Manufacturing.


On June 30, 1943 ACM produced the 150,000th jeep body. Willys-Overland sent a chassis to Connersville and the body was installed on the the frame during a celebration of the event.


Near the end of 1944 American Central was busy making plans for the conversion back to post war business. Kitchen sinks, cabinets and appliances were chosen to have the largest potential market for their manufacturing capabilities. Willys-Overland also placed an order for civilian Jeep bodies
(CJ-2A) through 1948. The kitchen products business became the mainstay of production for the former Jeep body plant. Click on image for a larger view.


At its peak ACM was a large complex of buildings that formed an early industrial park. Connersville was known as "Little Detroit" due to the large number of automobile related industries located there. Stant Manufacturing, Inc. and Dresser Roots still have plants in Connersville dating back to their origins in the 1800's.

Today many of the ACM buildings remain. Most have been modified and do not look as they did during Jeep body production. Currently the building where the Jeep bodies were made is a distribution warehouse.

Thanks to all the friendly folks of Connersville for help with this article. I particularly want to thank John Blommel, Bob Martin, Richard Stanley, Roger Wells, and Ronald Wood for their assistance.

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