Written by Bill Bowman
Ternstedt was named after its founder, Alvar K. Ternstedt, inventor of the first practical car window regulator. A native of Sweden, he applied for a patent on his invention in 1911, but it was not granted until 1916. The regulator utilized a chain and sprocket mechanism that offered greater ease of operation than any previous device. Ternstedt needed financial backing to start his own company, so in 1917 he invited the Fishers and several others to join him. At that time, the Fisher organization was already the largest body-building firm in the world.
At a meeting in Detroit on April 17, 1917, the Ternstedt Manufacturing Company was incorporated and Alvar K. Ternstedt was elected chairman. The seven other directors were four of the Fisher brothers and three other major Fisher Body Company shareholders. Ternstedt did not live long enough to enjoy the success of his venture. He died six months later and in 1920, Fisher Body acquired the Ternstedt firm located in Detroit, Michigan.
In 1921, the responsibility for the manufacture of all hardware required by Fisher Body had been turned over to Ternstedt. Also in 1921, Ternstedt acquired two independent manufacturing companies, the England Manufacturing Company and the International Metal Stamping Company. The England Company had been turning out (and selling to Fisher Body) rolled shapes and stampings. The International Company built truck cabs, fenders, and large stampings. Ternstedt continued to build the cab for a while until this activity was moved elsewhere. It might be of interest to some that Ternstedt, at this time, turned out heavy stampings such as fenders, radiator shells and door panels until this line was discontinued in 1926.
The production record of these plants during the war is worthy of mentioning. Trenton, operating as a division of Eastern Aircraft and partially fabricated and assembled the Navy carrier based bombing plane, called the Avenger. Before the end of war production Trenton was producing fifteen Avengers per day. Detroit produced anti-aircraft gun housings, gun synchronizers, gun sights, aircraft parts, gyroscopes, M-4 and Fisher tank parts and other miscellaneous war production items. Both plants were recipients of the Army-Navy E Award. There were 4,283 plants, approximately half a million workers, which received the Army-Navy E production Award representing about 5% of the total number of plants that performed war work.
After the war, both Detroit and Trenton facilities were reconverted and produced hardware for “Body by Fisher”. Anticipating the increased demands of the industry, a new Ternstedt plant was built in Columbus, Ohio in 1946. With this added facility, Ternstedt was equipped to turn out more hardware than ever before.
In 1946, the name was changed to Fisher Body-Ternstedt Division.
In 1948, Ternstedt became a separate division.
In 1968, Ternstedt was reunited with Fisher Body.
In 1984, Fisher Body was dissolved by being merged with other GM operations.