How Andy and Bobby Cohen built their ‘Junkyard Empire’?

March 22, 2024
4 mins read

From a scrapyard to an empire, this is how “Junkyard Empire” became a household name in motoring circles.

Bobby Cohen has been operating a scrapyard business, Cohen Recycling, for over 50 years in Bladensburg, Maryland, outside Washington D.C. His son, Andy literally grew up amongst the hub-caps, engine parts and other interesting pieces of what most could only call junk.

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Andy learnt a lot growing up in his dad’s shop, and is the one who has the drive for success and the knack for creating a viable business, whereas Bobby is quite laid back. Andy aspired to turn Cohen Recycling into a success, and as a stroke of luck, he met the Halfyard Productions Executive Sean Gallagher at an Indian Princess camp for parents and children. Apparently Andy was a great storyteller around the campfire, and Sean couldn’t help but notice his rhetoric skill, so approached him, and the ideas began to flow. After some discussion around creating plots and many potential pilot episodes hashed out by Halfyard Productions, the resulting final pilot for a reality TV series was developed in 2014. Discovery’s Velocity Channel took a chance, and aired it in 2015; it was a hit, and accelerated onto the road to fame and success.

Andy took on the role of  producer for the series, and played his part for five seasons and 39 episodes from 2015 to 2018. Bobby was simply himself in 28 episodes between 2015 to 2017.


Bobby and Andy Cohen as seen on “Junkyard Empire”

 Bobby and Andy would often argue on screen, and at times fans reported that they felt Andy treated his father in a manner that was a bit too rough, but the duo’s passion for what they do soon smoothed out any drama and the rocky bumps in the road between them. Not to mention that they earned a tidy profit from their specialized craft of molding junk into roadworthy and stylish vehicles

In November 2018, Velocity, the top channel for motoring programs known for shows such as “Wheelers Dealers”, which was the pioneer of motor vehicle customizing, “TopGear”, “Iron Resurrection”, etc., became MotorTrend Network with some adaptations and the addition of MotorTrend originals.

Andy Cohen the entrepreneur

Andy saw an opportunity in converting virtual scrapped cars using bits of junk metal from Cohen Recycling, so what started off as his own personal projects soon expanded into a sought-after and viable business. Hence Damascus Motors was born, situated in Damascus, Maryland, where Andy runs a successful shop customizing and restoring motor cars, turning old vehicles into dream cars.

Andy also has expanded the business to incorporate Hot Rod Alley, specializing in classic cars and hot rods, converting even a Rolls Royce into a hot rod. Andy’s Auto Parts also offers storage facilities, and has an online store for automotive parts and merchandise. Andy’s gone even one step further, and rents out some of the cars they’ve restored to promote events.


Some famous “Junkyard Empire” builds

One of Junkyard Empire’s most famous builds is the replica of the original police interceptor from the 1979 highly popular movie “Mad Max”. Even though Andy affirms that it’s a replica, the current owner appeared on the show claiming that they had built  a full overhaul of the original, with the addition of a functional supercharger turbo booster.

Andy grew up watching “Star Wars” and was thrilled to present to “Junkyard” fans the hot rod version of the first vehicle Luke Skywalker used in the movie – the film prop Landspeeder X34.

He states that his favourite project was the conversion of a classic 1967 Comaro Pacer, which had to be rebuilt from the ‘million pieces’ in which he found it. This glorious restoration culminated in the episode “Cohen vs. Camaro”, screened in June 2017.

Will Junkyard Empire return to the screen?

Since it wrapped-up it’s 5th Season in November 2015, fans have speculated as to whether the TV series will ever re-emerge. Has it been cancelled? Is it on hold? Will it make a comeback? Andy has made some innuendos about a new season on the way, but sadly no official news has been forthcoming, particularly from Motortrend. If fans have missed any of the previous seasons, they are available for viewing on the MotorTrend website.

There has also been silence on the Junkyard Empire Facebook page, which has 8,000 followers, with the last post appearing on 19th October 2022, and likewise on Andy’s Auto Parts page on which there are 6,700 followers; their loyal motorhead fans are keen to see the show make a comeback. Apart from their love of motor cars, they find the show funny, and enjoy Bobby’s sense of humor, and the banter between father and son.


A couple of anecdotes featuring Junkyard Empire’s family

Andy’s daughter, Shelby, appeared in a YouTube video when, after Andy had been teaching her to drive, she took his truck and tried to sneak out to visit her friends – she accidentally crashed the truck into their garage door, and then ran away. Bobby laughingly recalls how Andy wrecked five of Bobby’s cars when he was younger and decrees, ‘Karma comes all the way back around and bit him, not only on the sides, but right in the middle of his ass!’

It’s not certain what exactly Andy tried to do, but from his post on Facebook on 31st August 2022 he had an accident when attempting to fly, and spent 22 days in ICU. He thanked everyone for their love and concern which helped him get through it and added, ‘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!’

Bobby and Andy Cohen’s Net worth

Although the show received some criticism, whereby some people stated that some of the parts were staged, that cars were built beforehand and magically appeared completely overhauled on the show, and so on, the show retained its popularity, and certainly was an income spinner and a great contribution to the Cohens’ business’ overall success.

From Cadillacs to old schools Rolls Royces, many vehicles restored to their former glory sold for large sums of money. It’s estimated that Bobby and Andy Cohen have a combined net worth of $US5 million, accrued from the business income and the TV show. Andy also has a car collection of his own, but it’s not known how much that’s worth. In an interview on “L!ve with Eliza” in December 2022, Andy gives his opinion on how classic cars are still a good investment, and when they’re revamped, can become luxury vehicles.


Bobby has more or less retired and taken a backseat in the business, leaving Andy competently at the wheel. You can be sure that with Andy’s knack for discovering a great find, and his years of experience and hands-on know how, he’s likely to come up with another plan and another great, innovative way to grow the business and hopefully “Junkyard Empire”.

Olivia Wilson

As the Freelance Writer at Net Worth Post, I steer producing riveting stories about the lives and triumphs of influencers. With an unwavering commitment to precision and a flair for weaving compelling tales, I guide our content creation, from the depths of research to the pinnacle of narrative excellence. My responsibilities encompass the full spectrum of editorial management, including the meticulous investigation, narrative development, and upholding the integrity and high standard of our output.

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