BY: Mac Logan
In May of 1995, I was able to take a tour of SLP's facilities in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I had been in close contact with the Montreal staff during the ordering of my Firehawk and a tour request was graciously granted. I was picked up at the airport by John, the assembly building foreman. He was driving a 1994 Canadian Formula which was modified to 95 Firehawk specs. You car see it in the 1995 Firehawk brochure. John took me to see SLP's facilities and answered an endless stream of questions I had. In general, I was very impressed with the emphasis on quality and their enthusiasm and excitement about the Firehawk, WS6 and Camaro SS. I was surprised at the small group of people who did the conversions. Everyone was very, very friendly and helpful. I could not have been more impressed. The Firehawks in the photos would be in the range of #370 to #430.
Two separate facilities are used to build Firehawks. As most people are aware, Firebird and Camaros are built in Canada at the St. Therese plant, north of Montreal. They are then shipped to SLP for modifications. Finished Firehawks return to St. Therese to be shipped out with regular Firebirds.
The 1992 Firehawks were made in New Jersey. When Firebird production shifted to St. Therese for 1993, SLP needed an assembly plant in a more convenient location. Enter Zeke's Automotive. Zeke's is located in Lachine Quebec, near Montreal. It is owned by Terry Maxwell, who is a long time NHRA drag racer and friend of Ed Hamburger. Most of the regular production 1993 and 1994 Firehawks were assembled at Zeke's shop in Lachine. This is not a big place. I saw pictures of the parking lot jammed with Firehawks and car transporters full of Firehawks pulling out.
The strong demand for 1994 Firehawks led to an increase in production for 1995. SLP realized a larger facility was needed . A warehouse in Mount Royal, Quebec was so purchased and spiffed up. All the Firehawk hoods were still being constructed at Zeke's. Formulas, and a few Trans Ams, were shipped from St. Therese to the assembly building. The following photos describe the assembly process.
This is the north section of the assembly building as it appeared in May 1995. In the foreground are 6 Formulas (4 conv., 2 coupes) awaiting conversions. In the background are palettes of wheels (left) and other Firehawk parts. The whole building was being kept very clean. (95/5)
More Formulas in the northeast section. There are 14 shown here including 5 convertibles. The convertible tops were covered with white paper on cars with white or tan tops. The air boxes are on these cars. I toured the Assembly building on a Saturday when assembly was not underway. A total of eight workers at this location put the Firehawks together. I think the convertible in the center may be Jeff Casey's ( #371, dark green with a tan top). The completed cars were being shipped out each day. I wish I'd written down more! (95/5)
Yet more Formulas in the south section. The last car on the left (you just see the window decal) is a WS6 prototype Trans Am. I was told these were pre-production cars for magazine road tests and things like that. Each car awaiting assembly had a work order on the dash to indicate the SLP parts ordered. The Firehawk serial numbers seem to have been applied by the order in which they arrived at the assembly building. A yellow 3M post-it sheet with the number was stuck in the windshield of each car. SLP was preparing two Camaro SS coupes for crash test. I didn't take pictures of them as I had the feeling they weren't really happy I was taking pictures. (95/5)