Shock reigned last night as the news that Peugeot was to close its Midland plant reached the workers.
The speed with which the axe finally fell left employees dazed.
Most had heard about the decision on the local radio news - in their Peugeots on the way in for their 4.15pm shift or via a breathless phone call from friends or family.
For some the first they heard of the announcement was from the TV reporters thronging at the gates of the plant.
Father-of-two Brian Lowles, a metal finisher, felt the first tingle of trepidation when he saw dozens of cameras as he made his way from the car park for a briefing by his supervisor.
Mr Lowles, who has worked at Peugeot for 18 years, said the atmosphere at the factory had, up until then, been relatively optimistic.
"I live in Northampton and I hadn't heard anything," he said. "There were no new models and that was a bit worrying, but there was some talk about getting a Citroen.
"We've been making cars at a steady rate so this is absolutely a surprise.
"Originally it was planned for 2010, but now it's only next year. It is a bit of a shock, to be honest, especially at my age - I'm 55 and I'll need a full time job because I took out a mortgage last year. I hoped I'd make it until 65.
"It will be a bit tough finding a new job at my age."
Ikbal Sunda, aged 28, had worked at Land Rover before he came to Peugeot in 1999.
"We've gone with the shift changes and all the demands they've imposed and this is the way we get repaid for it," he shrugged.
"I want to work in the manufacturing industry but it feels like no matter what what you try, you're not going to make ends meet.
"The Government seem to have no committment to keep manufacturing in Britain. It is easy for the company to say we will keep it here, then go off to build them in European countries. It is a shame really because everyone here is good at what they do."
The knowledge that cars could be produced more cheaply in Eastern Europe had obviously weighed heavily on the minds of many employees. But there was the feeling the extra effort they had put in - including three shift changes - was not matched by the same degree of good faith on the part of the company's bosses.
Graham Spooner, aged 47, from Tile Hill, said: "I didn't know it would be total closure - I was led to believe the factory would be going until 2010.
"I would like to think that we had a future here because the 206 has been a good car for us here - we've probably been producing the best cars we've ever produced since the management structure changed.
"We were led to believe we were doing very well and on the back of that we might get the 207."
Alan Cooper, aged 48, from Coventry, has worked at the plant for 28 years.
"If you knew what the lads had put in you would understand that it's a bit of a slap in the face," said the father-oftwo engine assembly worker. "It got to the point where a lot of the workers don't really bother.
"Their hearts aren't in it because of the way things have gone downhill. 'Can we have that little bit more out of you, can you go a bit faster'.
"The pressure on the work-ers has been such that there's been no end of people off with depression or stress or they are taking time off because they've had it up to here.
"After 28 years my feelings about the closure are a bit mixed. You could say it is a bit of a relief."
Neil Robertson, a 41-year-old father-of-three, from Hinckley, Leics, was openly frustrated at how their efforts had been in vain.
"For the last two years we've been doing all these things, new ideas to make the car better," he said, adding frankly: "I feel like we've been a bit shafted, actually. "The statistics for the factory looked good. We knew it was going to end, but it is just a lot quicker."
Inside the factory he said, the atmosphere amongst the workers was a mixture of wry humour and shock as they faced the bleak prospect of unemployment.
"It was in the back of our minds that it was going to happen. Now it's: 'that's it, it's finished'. I reckon it will be gone by next Christmas."
Jim O'Boyle, T&G convenor, is convinced there is still a battle worth fighting, even if it was on a point of principle rather than the likelihood of reversing the "appalling" decision to close. "It is not right for
workers just to lie down and walk away," he said. "They deserve better than to be told, we've made a few million out of you and now we're taking the money away to invest it in a place with lower wages.
"It is wrong. We need to make the point that this plant is profitable and productive. We need to make that point and if at the end of the day the company decides to take their ball home, there's nothing we can do."