Fifty miles north of Atlanta, a 34-acre compound houses one of the largest car collections in the world. But this collection doesn’t have polished Ferraris or Porsches under shining lights. There are no immaculate Mercedes or Bentleys proudly displayed behind velvet ropes.

A rusty sign out front of the site reads “The world’s oldest junkyard jungle, here 80 years.”

Most of this collection is unsalvageable midcentury American steel, and it lays strewn about a forested property in rural Georgia. Over 4,500 cars – most of which are model year 1972 or older – belong to a man who spent his life saving some of America’s classic cars from the crusher. Sometimes-Interesting teams up with a fellow blogger to explore the what and why behind Old Car City U.S.A.


Photos courtesy Galen Dalrymple


The Beginning

Old-Car-City-3Old Car City began in 1931 as a general store, opened by the family of current owner Dean Lewis. Dean’s parents ran the store in the town of White, Georgia, and sold various items ranging from clothing to car parts, tires, and gasoline.

When the United States entered World War II, resources such as steel and tires became scarce as they were directed toward the war effort.

The Lewis family smartly followed the money and shifted the business into scrapping cars; by the late 1940s the general store had morphed into an auto salvage yard.

But Dean had a different vision for the business; rather than profit off the destruction of cars he wanted to preserve their legacies.

He recalls “My daddy bought me a ’40 Ford when I was about 12 or 14 and I just liked old cars from then on.”

(click thumbnails to enlarge)


Dean Lewis era

Old-Car-City-10Dean would eventually acquire the family business in 1970 and spent the next several decades acquiring various junked and wrecked vehicles without the intent to scrap them.

“When I got older and made some money, I got a loan and bought all these cars and it became Old Car City.”

It was a bold move and possibly disastrous business decision, but Dean is not normal – and he is proud of it.

What I’ve always done is try to do things that other people don’t do because if you do everything everyone else does, you’re going to be normal.


I want to be more than normal.

– Dean Lewis

The contrarian’s passion for cars helped grow the collection to what it is today.

His favorite car is a 1944 coupe. Lewis also likes Lincolns and admits he may have more of those than any other make.


Main Building

Inside the main office are the nicer and rarer vehicles, including one of Mr. Lewis’ favorite: The last car Elvis purchased, a 1977 Lincoln Mark V.

Collectible oddities and other Americana help create the vintage atmosphere inside. Upstairs is Dean’s art museum, mostly comprised of Styrofoam cups. Lewis decorates them after his morning coffee, and has been doing this for the last 30 years.

Antique toys, bicycles, school buses, and tractors have become staples of the Old Car City as well. A Cartersville Grand Theater marquis sits in the yard.


Old Car Junkyard

Old-Car-City-82Old Car City bills itself as the “world’s largest old car junkyard,” so how many cars are on the property? Dean says he stopped counting after 4,000. One thing he knows: There are more cars in Old Car City than people in White, Georgia.

Three separate lots contain the cars, scattered across 34 acres. Behind the main building are 6.5 miles of groomed walking trails; it’s not difficult to get lost.

Every vehicle has its own story, many discernable by the condition of the car. One Chevy pickup was clearly in a rollover. Next to some bushes sits what looks like a T-boned Plymouth Valiant. It never had a chance.

Light dances across broken windows as spider webs glisten in the morning dew. The oldest vehicles have been reclaimed by nature, completely buried in foliage unmolested for sixty years. Some cars are stacked on top of one another, exactly as they were delivered decades earlier.


Not Much of a Scrapyard

Old-Car-City-95Mr. Lewis sees his collection as a combination of art, nature, and history.

He will tell those who ask most everything is for sale, but be prepared to pay to remove one of the exhibits as the prized collection has a nostalgic value to Dean.

Those looking for parts or projects have returned empty handed, saying “most of the stuff you can fix is too high priced” and “they really don’t want to sell anything.”

Patrons usually don’t leave museums angry because they can’t buy the exhibits. Is the problem a failure by Mr. Lewis to set expectations?

Old Car City is more of a museum than a salvage yard, and Lewis acknowledges as much with his advertising; the website today refers to it as a photographer’s paradise.

The Corvair might be “unsafe at any speed”… but it’s still here.


Dean doesn’t hesitate to remind his critics:

I bought old cars when they weren’t worth nothing. I saved them, other people crushed them.



Old-Car-City-31A recent re-design and re-opening billed the attraction as “Nature, Art, History, and Cars.”

The metamorphosis from salvage yard to museum has both antagonized the vehicle restoration community and pleased photographers and purists.

Admission prices vary; photographers can expect to pay more than visitors without cameras. Guests reported paying $10 several years ago. In September of 2013 a visitor reported the prices were $15 to look, $25 to take pictures. Today the website indicates the base entry fee as $25 without a camera.

Comments on review sites have recommended stopping at Wes-Man’s Restaurant across the street from Old Car City after a long day of walking the grounds. Southern food and vintage décor help complete the walk down memory lane.

Just don’t forget the insect repellent.



Old-Car-City-89-2Photos courtesy Galen Dalrymple


       Old-Car-City-88Note: Galen provided many great pictures of the “world’s largest old car junkyard,” kudos to his fantastic job capturing so many of the relics in Old Car City. Please visit his blog for additional information & photos.


Old Car City USA, 3098 Highway 411 NE, White, Georgia, 30184

[ Visit on Maps: Google and Bing ]

[ Old Car City USA Facebook Page ]

Old-Car-City-aerial-1aerial view courtesy Google



  1. I belong to a photography club. I’ve yet to get into the two salvage yard events they book up so fast. This guy is wise to charge a nice price for photographers. We’ll pay it to photograph what he has. Fabulous photos. I have a friend in Atlanta. I’m sending him this piece and telling him when I’m in town, we’re going!

  2. What a waste! Sorry but these guys annoy the hell outa me. They say they are “saving” cars but won’t sell for a realistic price. All they are doing is prolonging the end. You, sir, are worse than those who junked these vehicles when their value was nothing. You are the lowest of the low, you are preventing the use of parts or even whole vehicles being used to preserve automotive history.

    Why would you go to such lengths to “save” these links to the past and then refuse those who are in a position to preserve them the chance to do so by either flat out refusing to sell or demanding outrageous prices for what you have?

    You don’t care, the only thing you care about is you, If you truly cared about preserving these irreplaceable monuments to ages past you would sell for what they are worth.Instead you ask silly money for them. As such you are worse than those who crushed these vehicles when their value was not established.

    You, sir, are an enemy f the preservation movement not a proponent of it and the sooner you realise that fact the better off the world will be.

    • Alot of these cars were saved from the crusher! They would be shredded metal by now. Not every car can be saved, the cost to restore is just beyond what the end would worth. To at least be able to see our history of the automobile, in what ever state is a good thing. If he sold every car to someone for their asking, there would be no Old Car City. It takes thousands of dollars to restore a car in good condition, some are just better as nostalgia.

    • I don’t think that’s true. I think what they are doing is saving old classic vintage cars from people who like to turn them into street rods. This place looks very cool. Whoever runs this is very cool and has a great business.

    • Right you are. People who let these cars get in this condition care nothing about them and in my opinion should be horse whipped.

  3. Fascinating post and interesting comments on the decay vs restoration debate. In the end this is a world that has been moulded by one individual, it’s his collection, his mind and his vision. To counter the slow decay there are probably plenty of other people who are preserving and restoring old cars to pristine condition. I can understand though why someone with a love for vintage cars is going to despair at this.

    I did love the “art museum, mostly comprised of Styrofoam cups” detail.

    • Ha, thanks Alex. This is a good debate, I can see both sides. I do like your point – we have hundreds of people restoring these cars, but only a handful are preserving them in arrested decay. Art or business, it’s definitely unique.

  4. Another place to write on my list to visit! I love how mother nature seems to take over the material objects we leave behind! Another great post and wonderful pictures! Thank you SI and Galen!

  5. I always thought the accumulation, build-up, and stockpile of junk was considered hoarding. Today, it’s apparently more trendy to refer to it as “art” and a “museum”.

  6. If I ever have the money to follow the one passion I do have, it would be to restore the old car of my dreams.
    The have so much more character than any new car on the road today – just love them!!
    Thank for this post!

      • That’s very true. Same here! I have fully stock 67′ beetle as my daily driver. I think this is the most interesting business ever! Keep up this awesome work! I’m gonna add this to my trip list

  7. > His favorite car is a 1944 coupe.
    They didn’t make cars from early 1942 until late 1945, so what 1944 coupe are we talking about?

      • I was asked how I got the user name MODEL T. Way back in the mid sixties I worked in a factory at a receiving/shipping desk for fixtures for machinery repair. I had recently bought a 1926 Model T touring car all original but rough yet low mileage.
        As people sometimes do in a factory, we’d talk about the weather, sports, and our hobbies during coffee breaks, lunch, and whenever we could sneak in a little comversation. Also it was, and probably is, customary to give other co workers a nick name. There was Red, Shorty, Slim, Fats, Farmer, and so on.
        One of the young kids in the tool crib started telling the others “Model T” probably knows the answer or Model T might know where to get a Model T part.That was the beginning. Soon after I began driving a semi for the same company and of course used a CB radio. I needed a CB handle so Model T seemed right. Along came the internet and Model T again seemed like a good choice. Only now there was already a Model T so I added *** at the beginning and 1 to make it work.
        From a young kid in his 30’s more into fast cars, Model T just didn’t seem right yet it stuck. Now I’m old and run down, way too many miles, yet try to be dependable, all like an old Model T.

    • For many years a salvage yard only 25 miles from me now advertised in those popular magazines. “Old Gold” near Old Town, Florida. Living in the midwest I could never go there.
      Finally I did. Not nearly as large but there were many old cars and some in decent shape. His prices also were high. But if you really need something you will pay it. Have you priced a part for a Prius lately?
      Don’t know why but it closed down several years ago. Now the parts are gone…at any price. The cars at White City are mostly too far gone to restore or even salvage parts. The owner is smart enough to see that fools like us will spend money to look and take pictures. Better than crushing them like most yards are doing.

      • I recently had a friend stop. Old Gold salvagge yard reopened some time back on rt 349 Old Town. Florida. This is NW of Gainesville in the Nw part of the state.

  8. How time flies. It was summr 1989 when my wife and I stopped on our way from a Florida vacation back to Illinois when we wandered around this junk yard. I have several old cars yet and was most likely looking for Model T parts, 1933 Chevy, or 1939 Ford parts at the time. Have no idea if I bought anything but the memories of wandering among the cars remains. Thanks for the great story.
    I’ve been in many smaller old yards mostly in Illinois and always try to picture the reason many cars were there. Each has a story.
    Yes I was surprised when it was mentioned the owner’s favorite is a 1944. Why wouldn’t the author say what kind of 44? Mine is a 1940 Ford. But I don’t own one. I have a nice 1939 Ford coupe and a 1941 Ford 2-door. Sometimes I believe those years are actually better. But anything old with wheels catches my eye.

    • Hi ModelT Denny, the reason I didn’t indicate which ’44 is because Dean didn’t specify in the source articles (I did not interview him directly, this information was researched from newspaper archives).

      I bet your coupe is nice, those are pretty cars. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Thanks for the reply. I’ve had my 1939 Ford coupe since early 70’s I believe. It’s been sitting over 40 years. At first it needed only a radiator and brake lines. I’m sure by now it will need a lot even though it’s been inside and dry.
        I finally realized I will never get it back on the road so gave it to my oldest son to finish. At least I can watch him and hopefully ride in it someday.
        A 1940 Ford coupe has been my dreams since middle school and I was lucky to find the 39 just a few houses down our street.
        Keep playing with old cars, writing, and takig pictures. That’s all some of us have now to look forward to.

  9. The majority of these cars are well past restoration. If not for saving them in this environment they would have long ago been crushed or destroyed. I grew up getting parts from junk yards, and to preserve the junk yard itself is part of our automotive history. I built and restored cars for over 40 years and I have no complaints about this site. Enjoy it. If Ladybird Johnson were alive today it would be gone.

    • Using that logic then this is really a museum. Sadly even many car museums are closing now. It’s just a matter of time when someone will figure a way to close this natural museum. Until then let’s enjoy it for what is there.

  10. I have a junk car that doesn’t work at all. I’d really like to sell its parts. It’s not worth replacing the few parts that don’t work. I would rather just get a new car.

  11. I need a back window and a passenger door glass for a 1965 Chevy Malibu a hard top two door (773)503-7008

  12. i have been told that futrills auto parts was the oldest family owned junkyard in ga , i am a son of a son of the founder but i know now somebody was wrong i truly feel like i understand mr dean as i have watched many go the crusher i always hated crushing time but we needed the money still i saved what i could and now we got a old car cementary of sorts , my hats off to mr dean i really would enjoy going his junkyard sometime

    • Article says his favorite car is a 1944 yet it shows a 1941 Ford. How many other details are incorrect?
      I’ve mentioned before, this is not a waste. Look how many have enjoyed this yard over the years and how many are paying good money to get inside to look and take pictures. It’s a money maker and a part of our history.
      Since salvage yards are all but extinct this gives younger people a look back when people like me could wander a junk yard near almost any city.
      Also keep in mind those who complain about the parts they could use, most salvage yards would have scrapped these cars years ago. At least as they are reclaimed by nature we can look around and see them in various states of decay.

      • Hi ModelT-Denny, none of the photos are captioned with year/make/model details. The pictures are scattered about the article randomly; if a ’41 showed up near the sentence that mentions a ’44, its pure coincidence. Thanks for reading.

  13. I have a 1974 f350 ford pickup dump truck im looking for a PTO for it it has a Borg warner transmission four speed PTO is a single gear has 26 teeth transmission has 32 teeth

  14. I live in Cali Colombia now but in the 70’s I went to College in Atlanta . I restore old cars since those days that I made some life long friends that are still in the salvage business in Ga .
    A couple of years ago I stumbled into old car city on my way to Atlanta from Knoxville .
    The owner was amazing , full of history . He let me wonder around for a couple of hours and I took hundreds of pictures to show back home to my friends in the classic car club I belong in Cali .
    Everybody here drooled when they looked at the pictures .
    Somebody commented in this blog about high prices ,That’s not true.
    I found a 1965 GTO that he had a title for it and he asked me $ 4,000 for it , I knew he would let me have it for $ 3500 if I’d asked but I had just bought 2 other cars elsewhere so that was all what I was going to spend on that trip .
    Thinking back just the title and the plates were worth the asking price . Anyhow , here is the link to some of the pictures I took at old car city:

    Every other year I like to go down memory lane and visit old salvage yards in the US while my family goes crazy at the mall!
    If you know of any good places to visit in North Florida , Georgia , North and South Carolina please let me know , I really would appreciate it .
    You all have a great day !

  15. Think about this, He could choose to scrap out these cars for a one time payment at whatever the going rate for car bodies/ mixed metal(less taxes) or he can keep them and have an ongoing income stream at $25 bucks a head for as long as it lasts or until he dies. Furthermore this working model of entropy requires almost no investment of time and money. Fact is the less he does the better it works. Just make sure to keep the property taxes paid.
    Calling it a museum might provide him with a more favorable tax status or perhaps no-tax status. No wonder he isn’t anxious to sell any cars or parts.
    However, I think the place will die with him. The heirs probably don’t share the same vision and will each want their share. That’s pretty normal. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn some day that the property has been cleared.

    • From what I hear that salvage yard was just part of a larger piece of property the owner already distributed to his heirs. Keeping the yard was his way of ensuring having something to do since most seniors are put to pasture.
      That area is fast becoming upscale high dollar value so his heirs will receive an additional windfall later on. I’ve only visited the place once but plan to do it again.
      Some people like to see shiny old cars in museums , some others like the nostalgia involved walking thru a car “cementery”
      Have a great day!

    • I agree with you. Some people gripe about anything. I’m on several old car sites. If a guy finds a nice old car many say chop it, others say restore, yet others say clean it up and call it a survivor. Whatever the owners do it’s their car!
      Often I’m in between but do like to see nice cars saved. However when it comes to many like in this junk yard, I see that they are at least saved naturally for many to still enjoy. All could have been scrapped years ago.
      I’m sure the family or executors will clear the yard and pocket whatever they can. We all have different thoughts and diferent ideas for hobbbies. Old cars are not for everyone.
      To me anyone clicking on this site and reading about the yard must have some interest in old cars and should understand this is a rare opportunity to take pictures and wander among pieces of the past. Salvage yards, as they are called, are becoming as rare as these pieces of rusty automobiles.

  16. Sorry but I can’t see how this is saving the cars. I’m 20 right now and living in South Africa this is heartbreaking for me to see. I would give anything to could have a ’69 Dodge Charger and this guy probably has a few in there. Just letting those beauties rust up and dying like that breaks my heart. If you have the skills ANY car can be restored. Why would you do something like this. I seriously think someone should throw this guy in a cage and let him rot. These car’s deserve BETTER.

  17. I’m trying to restore my father inlaw 1940 Ford 2door coupe in need of a better shell. Looking for help on where to look?

  18. Do you have any 1947 Willys trucks, with vin tag, I bought a Willys truck at auction and I cannot find a vin anywhere on the truck. Just wondering if you would have one that I can buy.
    Thank you
    Karen England

  19. Hi

    There is something wrong with gallery scripts :(. They fail on firefox and chrome thus cover some text.

    Cheers mate, thanks for running this great website :)

  20. All of you, “naysayers” on this offering nothing more than negative feedback ought to be taken out, lined up against a brick wall and SHOT! Antique bicycles and vehicles of this nature, for those of us who actually can have the cognitive thought, determination, and money to restore a vehicle like this,
    are physically spitting in your eye! How DARE You?! What happens when someone like me comes boppin’ along and is able to, “Turn Back The Clock” having the time, patience, and $ to actually have something, be it vehicle, bicycle, motorcycle, whatever, to have something that will not only stand The Test of Time, but will probably fetch a price that is many times over what is your yearly salary?!!!
    Maybe I shouldn’t worry too much, but for all you idiots who did that…I’m not all that worried,you have, in my opinion the approximate Attention Span of a CHIMPANZEE!!!

    • All right. Now that I know I have your attention send me both the snailmail address & telephone number of Sometimes Interesting, because I desire to purchase something interesting from him, they, he, she, or it. Namely a vehicle by 10-03-2015. Thanks.

      • Ha! :)
        This article was published over a year ago and yet, about once a week, I get an email from someone looking for parts for a car. With all these leads maybe I *should* get into the car business!

    • Actually I’ve been finding many somethings interesting by joining this group.There are so many factories, hospitals, and other things long forgotten and rotting away with intersting history that I’m enjoying the reading. Not everything old has to do with vehicles.
      It might even be interesting to know why I’ve been called Model T since the early 60’s.
      By the way, many talk and write about going down memory lane. About a year ago we bought a small retirement home on Memory Lane. Yes you can go home again.

    • Tyler – if you can point me in the correct direction, I’d love to get the facts straight. If there are larger junkyard museums I’d love to know about it and possibly feature it in this space. Thanks!

  21. I don’t see the message here yet, but someone mentioned this is not the largest old car junk yard in the world. Of course it isn’t. Off the top of my head I can’t say where that would be. But I do remember going through many much larger junk yards in the mid west and the states above Illinois. Then again I don’t know what quaifies a yard as the largest and most likely most of the ones I’ve been in years ago are long gone.
    The point is Old Car City remains and has become popular whether it’s physically largest or not.
    After all, how many places claim the World’s best Pizza, the World’s best hamburger, etc.

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