“Junkyard Empire” is one of the most unique automotive shows, following a father and son duo who run a successful business in flipping previously junked cars. Since season five of the show ended in 2019, a lot of fans have been wondering if and when it will return for another season.
How did Bobby and Andy build their empire?
By the time we first saw them as hosts of “Junkyard Empire” in 2015, the father and son duo behind Cohen Recycling were already successful businessmen. Bobby founded the scrapyard in his youth, and was later joined by Andy, however, behind them are much humbler beginnings.
Bobby has been running his company for close to 50 years now; he started off by crushing old cars and stripping them down for profit. Even though Bobby appears to be a laid-back type on camera, he’s very committed to his work and has a razor-sharp eye for quality junk. Andy, who spent a lot of his childhood in his father’s workshop, quickly caught on and inherited Bobby’s skills. He now helps him run the business, while providing his own perspective – of course, as we can see on the show, there are some disagreements between the two, however, they are always able to come to an agreement that puts their company forward.
Andy also runs his own business on the side, Damascus Motors, which provides car customization services. He started off by taking scraps from his father and using them in his own projects. Andy later realized that this is a great business opportunity, and started providing his own services separate from his dad’s.
Unlike many other companies we see on similar types of shows, Cohen Recycling is a real family-run business, which has been active for decades. “Junkyard Empire” also shows them and their team of employees working on real-life projects, perfectly displaying what daily life in this business is like. Running two places at the same time isn’t easy, however, and Bobby often warns his son that he might be spreading himself too thinly.
“Junkyard Empire” beginnings
“Junkyard Empire” premiered in 2015, developed by Half Yard Production, and the story behind the series development is quite interesting. A few years before the Cohens even considered making a TV show about their business, Andy met the Half Yard Productions executive, Sean Gallagher at a camp for parents and children. Andy’s stories about his shop impressed Gallagher, who asked Andy if he and his father would be interested in starring in their own TV show. They soon developed a few pilot episodes, and pitched them to various networks. In 2014, “Junkyard Empire” was picked up by Velocity, and the rest is history.
Aside from the amazing work Andy and Bobby do on the show, lots of time is dedicated to their personal dynamic. Bobby has over 50 years of experience in running his business, however, his idea of work is more relaxed compared to his son’s. On the other hand, Andy is very business-oriented, and looks for every opportunity to improve. After all, it was his idea to expand Cohen Recycling, and start doing car restoration.
Some fans of the show may think that the conflicts between the two are a bit overplayed on the show, but according to Andy, all the banter that we see is 100% real. ‘It’s very close to who we are,’ said Andy in one of his interviews. ‘It’s our banter; we feed off each other.’
Bobby and Andy’s income still primarily comes from Cohen Recycling, and to a lesser degree, Damascus Motor. Both businesses are operating outside of “Junkyard Empire” and have a very good reputation among the locals, established long before the series even started airing. According to the “Washingtonian” magazine, the business hasn’t contributed to the main stars’ business all that much, given that most of the series’ viewers tend to be younger than the company’s target demographic.
Still, “Junkyard Empire” has turned Bobby and Andy into minor celebrities. According to Andy, he’s often approached by fans of the show, who ask him questions such as ‘Why are you so hard on your dad?’, and ‘Do you guys actually argue that much in real life?’. ‘It’s very close to who we are,’ Andy revealed in one of his interviews. ‘It’s our banter, we feed off each other’.
— Garmin (@Garmin) December 11, 2015
“Junkyard Empire” season six
After season five of “Junkyard Empire” concluded in November 2019, there haven’t been any updates on the show coming from Velocity Channel. The network hasn’t officially renewed the show for another season, while there’s also no news of its cancellation. At this moment it appears that “Junkyard Empire” has simply been put on hold.
On the other hand, in the past few weeks Andy has been posting new updates fairly frequently on the official “Junkyard Empire” Facebook page. Aside from showing off their new builds, in late August this year, Andy started alluding to his possible return to TV screens. Following a paragliding incident, Andy wrote: ‘Thank you to everyone who showed their concern when I tried to fly, receiving all the love for the 22 days in the ICU helped get me through it! It’s a slow healing process but I can’t wait to get back to start streaming on Junkyard Empire TV. We are putting together builds now and look forward to giving you guys some great laughs and great builds!’
While we’re waiting for an official release date, Bobby and Andy have been working hard off the screen and it seems that a new season might already be in the works. Meanwhile, previous seasons of “Junkyard Empire” are available for streaming on Motor Trend website.
Most notable projects
Given that Andy and Bobby primarily work on junked vehicles, turning them into custom pieces, the quality of their work is truly astounding. One of their craziest builds is their replica of the original police interceptor from “Mad Max”; in an episode of the show, they gave what the owner claimed was the original prop from the 1979 movie a full overhaul and even added a functional supercharger. Although Andy doesn’t believe that the car is really the original used in “Mad Max”, no one can deny that it now looks pretty convincing.
Speaking of film props, in one episode we saw Damascus Motors build a hot rod version of The Landspeeder X-34 from the original “Star Wars” movie series. It was the very first vehicle Luke Skywalker used when he acquired C3PO, and holds a very dear place in Andy’s heart, as he grew up watching the movies.
However, Andy has revealed that one of his favorite projects was actually a classic Camaro Pace from the 1970s. Although on similar shows we often see the restoration team turn an old-school vehicle into an unconventional model, Andy and his team were dedicated to bringing back the Camaro as close as possible to its original state.
Some other finds Andy and Bobby made on “Junkyard Empire” turned out to be goldmines in terms of profit. Some of the greatest finds on the show include a Cadillac, an old-school Rolls Royce, and even several supercars. Finding these cars in a non-functional state, the duo were able to breathe new life into these trashed vehicles, and later sell them to collectors for large sums of money.
Is “Junkyard Empire” fake?
As we mentioned earlier, the drama between Andy and Bobby is quite real. However, much like any other reality TV series, “Junkyard Empire” has its own share of fabricated content and inconsistencies.
Some very observant fans of the show have noticed that in a few episodes, it seems that Andy and Bobby had already done parts of their project for a professional job, while pretending to work on them. This is particularly apparent in the episode in which they restored the 1977 Trans Am, as it had a lot of filler, and hardly showed the Cohens doing anything. Then suddenly, a fully finished vehicle seemingly came out of nowhere. To make things even worse, at the end of the episode, the car was sold at a small local auction for only a few hundred dollars – way lower than its estimated market value.
Through the series, we’ve also seen Andy and Bobby pull off some rather improbable finds from junkyards. In the Cadillac Eldorado episode, they found perfectly new hubcaps in the junk, which made a lot of fans think that these were planted there behind the scenes.
Another major criticism of the show is related to their (lack of) safety practices. An ample example of this happened while they were restoring a Monte Carlo, and left the fluid in the transmission. It ended up spilling all over the floor, but they continued on working as if nothing worth addressing had happened. Further, the team never seem to be wearing any gloves or other protection equipment. For many viewers, this spoils the experience of watching the show, as the mechanics tend to look less professional, and more like average Joes. This is not an unusual sight to see in non-TV garages, but not everyone enjoys it on TV, as they expect to see a higher level of competence.
Why did Danny leave the show?
In season three, one of the mechanics employed at Damascus Motors, Danny Bowie, left the show. His Facebook page reveals that he’s still working with Andy and Bobby, so it seems a bit strange that he would leave their TV series with no explanation. The true reason for his departure was never revealed to the public, but given the relationship he has with the Cohens, it’s possible that he didn’t enjoy working with the network. Many mechanics who appeared on similar shows have complained that the TV production disrupts their working day, demanding they do things in a specific way, so Danny certainly wouldn’t be the only one to leave a production for that reason.
While we’re waiting for “Junkyard Empire” to make a comeback, there are a number of other automotive TV shows to fill the gap. The car restoration niche has truly boomed in recent years, and a lot of shows are trying to capitalize on that.
It all started with the legendary “Wheeler Dealers”, which premiered back in 2003, presented by Mike Brewer and Ant Anstead. The series was the first to introduce a pair of car enthusiasts scouting rare vintage cars, and giving them a complete makeover. Its popularity in the UK led it to become an international hit, and spawned a number of spin-offs and copycat shows. Now, 19 years later, the show is still going strongly with the 18th season on its way.
Another popular and long-running series in the genre is “Overhaulin’”, often considered to be a more ‘serious’ version of “Pimp My Ride”. In each episode, the hosts Chip Foose and Chris Jacobs work with a team of mechanics to restore an unsuspecting owner’s car. One thing that makes this show special is that the contestants are actually nominated for the show by their friends and family, and their vintage models have sentimental value to them. The final designs aren’t super outlandish, with the mechanics team mainly focusing on restoring the car to its original state, possibly with just some minor upgrades.
Set in Dallas, Texas, “Fast N’ Loud” is one of the most popular automotive shows right now. It follows the team of Gas Monkey Garage led by Richard Rawlings, as they fix-up cars brought in by their regular customers. It presents one of the most realistic depictions of the car restoration process, featuring lots of genuine know-how.
A show perhaps the most similar in its theme to “Junkyard Empire” is “Roadkill’s Junkyard Gold”. Featuring the classic car authority Steve Magnante, each episode focuses on a different vintage model found in one of the junkyards across the US. While the car is being restored by the Roadkill team, Steve talks about the model itself and its unique place in automotive history. With an IMDB rating of 9.0, it’s one of the best-received automotive reality TV shows, and definitely worth a watch.