The Second World War was the central, cataclysmic event of the 20th century, and it changed everything, including the automobile industry.
Auto Industry during the War
During WWI, automobile manufacturers had produced war materiel as a “side-business” while continuing their normal civilian production. The impact of WWII on the automakers was drastically different.
The automobile manufacturers ceased civilian production entirely and instead operated hundreds of plants manufacturing specialized war-related products previously unfamiliar to them.
Designing and manufacturing aircraft engines, aircraft wings and fuselages, large guns, ammunition for small arms, gyroscopes, radar equipment and scores of other kinds of materiel presented enormous challenges for the industry's engineers, managers and production workers.
Manufacturing under government contracts created a new set of operating conditions as well. Automobile manufacturers cooperated with government officials, military planners and outside firms in ways unprecedented during peacetime, providing critical support to the Allied war effort.