Carney Bros. Auto Wrecking

The first Carney's auto salvage business was begun in Fort Dodge by Don Carney, who had been a member of the police department there.  It was after working to recycle impounded cars for the City of Fort Dodge that Don realized auto salvage could be run as a profitable business.  Don's two brothers, Jerry Carney and Bert Carney, selected Ames, Iowa, as another location for an auto recycling business after Jerry left his career with Fort Dodge Laboratories selling veterinary pharmaceuticals in Austin, Texas.

Locating their first office in a milking barn on two acres just south of Squaw Creek, the two Carney brothers eventually expanded their salvage operations to include more than 23 acres of cars, trucks and parts.  Jerry Carney's sons, Tom and Matt, began working with their father and uncle in the family business "just out of high school."  When Bert Carney decided in 1970 to move to Colorado to find relief for his asthma, Jerry bought out his half of the Ames operation.  Tom Carney and Matt Carney gradually assumed more of the work load as their dad began to experience health problems.  Jerry Carney never did retire, but continued to work until his death in 1994.

Jerry Carney & Sons, Inc., The Friendly Irish, is still operated in Ames by Matt and Tom Carney at 1816 Southeast 5th Street.  And although parts are no longer located using the teletype or "squawk box," used car part needs can now be communicated through the business website,


December 30, 1954

 "You've got to know what you've got.... and where, in this business," Bert Carney, part owner of an auto salvage yard says about his work.  He and his brother, Jerry, are part owners of an auto salvage yard in Ames that has more than 2,500 cars sitting in it in various stages of disrepair.  Bert knows just about where any part of any particular model or make of car can be found on the 15 acres of his automobile graveyard.

Just because a car has been in a wreck and is declared a total los or wreck doesn't mean the old buggy doesn't have some life left.  In this auto parts bank can be found parts from cars made 20 years ago as well as some that rolled off the assembly line just a couple of months ago.

The auto salvage business has become "big time."  His yard is connected by teletype to nine other salvage yards covering a three state area.  He explained he sells or gets parts for his customers as far away as Detroit, Mich.  Most cars are kept in the yard until just about all parts have been stripped.  This cannibalizing is continued until nothing usable is left and then only are the cars cut up and sent off as scrap metal.

Cars are "filed" in the lot according to make and model so that any particular make can be found at a moments notice.  The yard employs five people with one driving a truck full time just hauling in wrecked cars.  Auto salvage operators are required to have a regular auto dealers license and demand a title for every car brought in no matter what condition it might be in, Bert explained.  This prevents car thieves from stealing cars, wrecking them and selling them for salvage when they feel they might not be able to get rid of them in any other way.

Married, Bert lives at 1316 Marston Ave. with his wife and two sons, Michael, two and one-half and Bryan, 10 months. 


Ames Daily Tribune, September 28, 1959

Eighteen auto parts companies in five Mid-western states now have their combined inventories readily available to supply their individual customers.  Jerry Carney, half owner of Carney Bros. Auto Salvage, said today.  The Ames firm has its headquarters one half mile south on Hiway 69.

According to the company official, the 18 parts companies have leased a 1,146 mile private communicating line which makes direct connection to a teletypewriter machine installed in each of the company's office.  The special service arrangement is being provided by the Bell System's Long Lines Department.


Ames Daily Tribune, March 31, 1960

Jerry Carney, left, and Bob Colt exchange several sticks of dynamite Tuesday while standing on an ice jam 200 yards east of U.S. 69 on Squaw Creek.  Carney is co-owner of Carney Brothers Auto Salvage here.  He used seven charges of explosives in two days to break up ice blocking the flow of the rising river.  When these pictures were taken, Squaw Creek was near bank full and threatening to flood Carney's car salvage lot seen in the rear.  Over night, the waters spilled over the banks and have flooded part of the lot.  By Tuesday noon, Carney and Colt, an employee of the salvage company, had broken loose an ice jam one quarter mile long.  Carney remarked, "We're not experts at this dynamiting business, but you bet we're cautious."  Another employee, Larry Miller, helped the two explode the charges ranging from four to six sticks of explosives each.  The group moved back 50 yards and touched off the charges with electricity, then waited for what looked like ice cubes to descend on them before returning to the river.


Ames Daily Tribune, March 30, 1962

A community and nation on wheels results in more wear and tear on vehicles -- and the need ot handle and use more efficiently cars and other vehicles when they have outlived their usefulness.  Providing this service is the Carney Bros. Auto Wrecking firm, located south of Ames on Highway 69.

The firm was established in 1956 by brothers and co-owners Jerry Carney of 2015 Friley Road and Bert Carney of 1316 Marston Ave.  In six years of active expansion, the business has grown from employing no persons to a present staff of eight to 10 employees that resulted in a payroll last year of $34,000.

When begun, the plant included 2,000 square feet of space on a two-acre tract.  Present size has grown to 5,000 square feet on a 15-acre lot, with plans for future expansion, even after just completing a new building.

The company provides late model used parts for all passenger cars and trucks, and is one of the three largest firms of this nature in the midwest.  Added convenience to customers includes an instant parts-finding service, via speed telephone service on a private line that contacts 25 firms in a five-state area to locate "hard-to-find parts."  [Carney Bros. customers from decades ago may remember this additional layer of conversation provided by the "squawk-box," the amplified live phone line that replaced the teletype communications machine used to secure parts from other salvage yards.] About 20 per cent of its business is in the Ames area, with 30 per cent intra-state, and 50 per cent sent elsewhere in Iowa.  Future plans call for possibilities of reaching international markets as well.

Persons using the Carney Bros. Auto Wrecking service include the general public, body shops, new car dealers, used car dealers, independent garages, other wrecking yards, engine and transmission rebuilding firms, and foundries that reprocess iron and tin.  The auto and truck parts are distributed by delivery service, bus, truck, and film outlets.