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The 7 Best Car And Truck Factory Tours To Take With Your Little Motorhead

You already have a house full of of Hot Wheels, R/C cars, and the occassional Power Wheel parked in the garage. What you don’t have is a factory floor the size of a small country to show them how Corvettes, Harleys, and big rigs are actually made. If your kid is obsessed with vehicles — and the sight of a Mack truck or sight exposed HEMI will make their month — then a factory tour is their industrial Disneyland. Here are the 7 best tours available across the U.S. that will give them a glimpse at the workers (and robots) who bust ass for combustion.

Chevrolet Corvette, Bowling Green, KY

Corvettes aren’t just the ride of choice for Dirk Diggler and Austin Powers, they’re the world’s longest continuously-produced car. A tour of the famed Bowling Green factory, where they’re assembled, is the sports car guy’s equivalent of Cooperstown. Watch robots start to piece siding onto the snub-nosed chassis of new ’vettes, and finish with fresh models rolling off the lot and take their first spin. FYI: the tour consists of a mile-walk — so get that travel stroller.
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Harley Davidson, York, PA

Sturgis vets the only ones who enjoy Harley-Davidson bikes. The Steel Toe Tour at the company’s York, Pennsylvania plant offers 2-hour jaunts full of loud, shiny things every weekday. You’ll see fuel tanks, fenders and engines being manufactured and whole bikes assembled. At the end of the tour, you can sit on a Harley before it’s shipped to its presumably bandana-and-sunglasses clad owner. Tours are at 9:30 AM and noon on weekdays;
(Note: younger kids aren’t allowed on the floor, but they can hang out in the Kid’s Corner where they have videos and hands-on, smaller-scale interactive Harley exhibits.)
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Ford Rouge Factory, Dearborn, MI

The Ford Rouge factory assembles trucks at the blistering pace of 1 per minute. The walking tour will give everyone a bird’s eye view of the assembly line’s human and robotic workers putting it together. After you’ve watched a dozen or so trucks get made, you can grab a seat in a theater for a 13-minute documentary about the factory’s past with historic footage of Henry Ford. Another theater offers a loud, robotic presentation about ingenuity in Ford trucks (spoiler: They’re built Ford Tough).
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rosenbauer-america-facilitiesRosenbauer America, Wyoming, MN

Kids. Love. Firetrucks. And Rosenbauer America’s Minnesota factory churns out 150 of the bright red safety vehicles a year. They manufacture both the cab and engine portion, as well as the box that sits on top. They also makes ARFFs — those airport rescue and fire-fighting rigs you see out the window while sitting on the runway. The process of making them mostly involves lots of banging and tons of steel and aluminum being cut. If they’re cool with sirens, they’ll probably be ok here, too.
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Mack Trucks, Macungie, PA

Most kids love tractor-trailers, until they drive cross-country for the first time. Mack Trucks is the big daddy of big-rigs and offers a great factory tour. Good news: You’ll see the trucks mid-build, with their hoods open to reveal the snaking machinery that makes them go. Bad news: Unless your kid owns a trucking company, you can only take them one day a year — the Saturday during Father’s Day weekend. So, guess what your present is going to be this year?
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Hyundai Motor Company, Montgomery, AL

Hyundai’s roughly 90 minute factory tour mercifully takes place largely in a tram. Younger kids (ages 6 and up only) can watch Hyundai’s process for producing 1,500 cars a day from a seated position. Is it too meta to watch cars being built from the comfort of a car? Tours are free and offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:30 a.m., noon and 2:30 p.m. During the winter (or what they call winter in the South); they’re also offered Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m.
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Joe Gibbs Racing, Huntersville, NC

Cars gave your kid a good look at what racecars with eyes look like. Now they’ll want to see how a NASCAR not voiced by Owen Wilson works. Head to Joe Gibbs Racing (re-opening in January), where they’ll be able to look through a large window into the shop where cars are built, check out the trophies that have been taken home, and get their hands on a floor model. The Charlotte Motor Speedway is also short drive away, so you can see these creatures in their natural habitat.
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