Skip to comments.Famous Detroit-area junkyard Warhoops sold
Posted on 08/18/2013 12:12:55 AM PDT by Impala64ssa
Normally when a junkyard changes hands, it doesnt warrant much attention in the national media. Junkyards tend to serve a more local role in the automotive lifecycle, and few rise beyond regional prominence. Not so with Warhoops, the Detroit-area junkyard made famous for sheltering four GM Motorama concept cars for decades, which its founders son recently sold.
When World War II veteran Harry Warholak Sr. opened Warhoops in 1956 on almost 16 acres on 18-1/2 Mile Road in Sterling Heights, Michigan an industrial area not far from GMs Tech Center he intended it as no more than a place that would facilitate keeping older cars on the road. Dads whole philosophy his whole thought of life was to save a buck, said Harry Warholak Jr. So originally his idea, and the idea I tried to keep going, was to keep the old cars available for the public to pick from, to save them not to scrap them.
How exactly GM determined to send its Motorama dream cars to Warhoops in 1958 nobody seems to know nowadays more likely than not it was simply a matter of proximity but as Warholak Jr. pointed out, it was his fathers thrifty philosophy that kept GM from sending more than four of the dream cars to Warhoops. As related in a recent Car and Driver article on Warhoops, GM offered to ship the cars to Warhoops itself or let Warholak come get all of the cars with a wrecker of his own. Warholak took the former option so he wouldnt have to hire a wrecker driver for the day, but after four of the dream cars made it to Warhoops (the 1955 Cadillac LaSalle II roadster and sedan, the 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne, and the 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Town Car), somebody at GM sounded the alarm and the remaining cars stayed put. We couldve had all 35 if Dad had wanted to spend the money for that wrecker driver, Warholak Jr. said.
The four cars spent the next 30 years exposed to the elements at Warhoops and became the source of local car-guy lore until concept car collector Joe Bortz famously bought them in 1988. He has since restored two of the four the LaSalle II roadster and the Biscayne and sold a third the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Town Car.
Contrary to rumors that Warhoops harbored more dream cars, Warholak Jr. said that the junkyard only ever had those four, but they were enough to propel the junkyard to national recognition. Harry Warholak Sr. died a few years later in the early 1990s, but his son continued the business as well as his fathers philosophy of keeping old cars available in the junkyard. However, Warholak Jr. said that he had already noticed a change come over the old car hobby by then.
It seemed like the attitude of our customers changed from just having an old car to drive to work to having an old car as a collector car, he said. We also saw scrap become more valuable than the parts and the Internet take a bite out of our business. Nevertheless, he kept the business going until last month, when he sold it to Detroit-based U.S. Auto Supply, which Warholak Jr. said will keep the junkyard open, but phase out its inventory of older cars.
Warholak Jr., 70, said he was just looking to retire, and has since then moved to Roswell, Georgia. The only thing from Warhoops that he took down South with him was a battery-powered kid-sized Jeep that his father built for him in 1949. I am going to miss it, he said. Ill really miss talking to all the guys who were with me and to the guys in the auto industry who would come in.
Bortz, who will show three of the four Warhoops dream cars at the Geneva Concours dElegance later this month along with the 1953 Buick Wildcat I, said hes sad that a great long moment has now passed. Warhoops has become an icon, he said. I would imagine its the most famous single junkyard in the world.
I’m a Ford guy but that idiot should be severely abused for leaving those cars to rot as he did. That was a crime against automotive history.
The worst crime against the automotive industry was the Chebby Volt. This, followed by Imam Obama’s Cash for Clunkers program.
Don’t forget the shipping of so many old (and RARE) cars to China for conversion into Wal Mart products.
Side note A few years back I did a frame off on a 79 F250 and was shocked as to how limited the pickins had become since my last project around 2000. Here in AZ those trucks used to be like water in a lake. Perfect rust free bodies/running gear with sun rotted interiors. Now they are all but gone.
If Obama and crew really wanted to improve small business, particularly for used parts retailers, he would allow them to work through some sort of clearing house that connected car owners in Cuba with used parts retailers here in America.
“If Obama and crew really wanted to improve...”
A logical impossibility ;)
I drive right past that place several times a week and I always thought it was just an old junkyard......LOL!
.....moved to Roswell, Georgia
Moving from one infested (caint use the descriptive word)area to another. Way too close to Atlanta. Should have tried for northern part of Georgia.
Oooo, well it his monies from his dad’s junk business that he rode through his life.
Actually those are in incredibly good shape for being in a Michigan Junkyard.
True. I think the only reason they were not brown spots in the dirt is the 2 in thick steel they made the bodies out of ;)
I’m a native of upstate NY. I know exactly what you mean.
On my first trip to Texas, I thought the junk yards were used car lots.
When I first got here to AZ in the 90s I had the same impression. The Ideal thing back in NY was to take a motor that the car had rotted away from before it hit 50K on the odometer and pair it to an AZ sourced car that had 200,000 on it with no rust. Lots of muscle cars still up there came from out here. The ones their not garaged are but fond memories.
When I did the frame off mentioned above, the cab sat sanded to the bare metal for months and developed no rust (no rain and about 2 percent humidity.
I love that vintage
Best trucks ever IMO. 73-79. Almost entirely without electronic BS, Bulletproof drivetrrains and a unique look.
Sure the new stuff has more power and whiz bang whatever. But they are more car than truck. At 10 times the cost.
My baby was a 77F250 Camper Special W/460/C6/Dana 60, but I have owned several of that vintage. All were stellar..
Hemmings...now there’s another worthy antique.
“....moved to Roswell, Georgia”
I’ve been living in Roswell a dozen years now and really like (most of) it.
Probably the old FE 390. 600 pounds of power ;) The Chevys of that vintage were pretty beastly as well. Had a friend with a 68 stepside and an I6. Thing got like 18 mpg and refused to die. And it pulled like a mid sized V8.
Yeah, those mid to late ‘70s Ford pickups are a perfect expression of pickup truckness. They’re like a Boeing 707 airliner or a Martin D-28 guitar in that they sort of define the category.
When I worked in Tampa many years ago my boss had me drive all over town in his 70 Chevy pick up with the 6-gun. It was no Z-28 but that engine is virtually indestructible.
Indeed. I know guys all have their faves (Im a Charvel Superstrat guy ;) but your analogy is a good one.
Chevy of the era were a box. They were very good trucks, but they looked like the crate they shopped in...and they were good for a couple years in the northeast before rust swiss cheezed them. They did great in fry climes though. I mean a 350 chevy is hard to argue with from an overall standpoint.
But the Fords just had a look to them and were tanks. Thick steel bodies and oh those curves. They looked right with a Mack Truck hood ornament on them because they looked like bulldogs.
The big block chevys edged them in power, barely, but the 460 is no weak sister. NP 205 xfer cases available, C6 or that granny low 4 speed and Danas on the 2/450s (and a 9in on the 150s)...just brutal.
Interiors were good but were TRUCK interiors and worktrucks came with runner carpeting. No foo foo stuff to be found.
Only bad thing was the emissions crap and the 204 cases on the 4x4s standard full time. But all the trucks of the era were cursed with that. Cant have it all I guess.
Edit 250 and 350 and NP203 cases
I have a ‘79 F150, Ol’ Green by name. She has about 85,000 miles on her. I run her a few miles a month year around, to keep her lubed and limber. In the winter she gets a snow plow on her to keep my 750 foot driveway clear. She is going to be running still when I am long gone.
I had a '67 Chevy Suburban, it was my favorite all time truck. It was a half ton with a 283 and Turbo 400 so the ride was pretty tame all in all but it would carry a load when so tasked. It was still new enough to have had no rust or rattles when I had it, and being just 18 years old it was the designated party wagon because 8 or 9 of us could pile in with our stuff and go just about anywhere.
I was too young to appreciate what I had and I traded it for a 4X4 corn binder money pit. I could drive it anywhere and break it anywhere, sometimes limp home & sometimes spend a night underneath it in the mud then limp home. Always an adventure, whether I wanted one or not from any particular outing.
When cockroaches are extinct I think there will still be some of those old Fords running, they are solid and you can tell by just looking at them.
Yeah, the thing about the Fords is that they had that great groove down the side stamped into the sheetmetal. The Chevys had a crease that went down the side too, but it wasn’t nearly as dramatic. The Chevys actually look really good in the upper trim levels where they’ve got either two-tone paint or a trim strip to accentuate it, but the Fords didn’t need any extra emphasis. They looked good even in the base models with single color paint and no fancy trim. That groove was filled with shadow and stood out and looked like a comet tail or something — very rakish. Plus the Fords had a perfect grill, especially after ‘77 when they updated it slightly. I’m normally a shortbed or stepside kind of guy but for some reason I like the Fords of that era in a longbed.