There’s a Dynaflow in my Cadillac!  The Great Hydra-Matic Plant Fire of 1953.



Sometimes we come across a book that leads us into interesting history.  We wondered why some 1953 Oldsmobile owner’s manuals were blue and some were black.  It turns out that one of the worst industrial fires in American history caused the change.

On August 13, 1953, a construction worker with a welding torch sparked a fire that swiftly engulfed the 1.5-million square-foot Hydra-Matic plant of Livonia, Michigan in flames.  You can read more about the fire in an article from a firefighting magazine of the day.

The state-of-the-art plant was only four years old and was the sole source of Hydra-Matic transmissions.  As a consequence, Cadillac and Oldsmobile cars had to switch from their usual Hydra-Matic transmissions to Buick Dynaflow models, while Pontiac cars substituted Chevy Powerglides. 

Cadillac and Olds had to issue shop manual supplements because shop manuals had been published months earlier.  Owner’s manuals, too, had to change.  Olds changed the color of the cover of their owner’s manual from black to blue to signal the difference (blue books have Dynaflow info inside).  When we understood this change, we wondered what happened to Cadillac owner’s manuals – they all look the same on the outside.  When we looked inside, however, we found that a few of the 1953 Cadillac owner’s manuals have Dynaflow instructions instead of Hydra-Matic instructions. 

This kind of research happens every day at Faxon Auto Literature.  We delve into history to help us be knowledgeable about the best possible books for our customers.  If you would like to find the best book for your vehicle, call us or visit our website!