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History Gratiot Auto Supply, The worlds largest hot rod shop !

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Harms Way, Jul 30, 2008.

  1. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,849

    Harms Way
    Member

    There was a thread started by 4t64rd recently about the rights to the name Gratiot Auto Supply, I worked at the Livonia location, below is some memories I had posted back in Feb of 07,... on another thread, do you have any good stories about "Gratiot"? or even,... Redford speed, Skippys speed shop, Raceland, Mayfair, Ramchargers etc?


    When I worked at Gratiot Auto Supply It was one of the biggest Speed / Hot Rod Shops in the Nation, we had several BIG store's with lot's of inventory and a huge warehouse in Madison Hts. that did a ton of mail order business, But mail order was different then, No credit card orders unless you had a account set up, ( to make a purchase with a credit card you had to have your "Charge Plate" in hand so we could run it through the machine to make the impression, any charge over $50.00 had to be looked up on our Comp-u-Check printout ), you sent in your "Order Form" with a Money Order or with C.O.D. instructions, If you sent a personal check you would have to wait until it cleared before your order was even pulled, the fastest turn around on a mail order was 7 to 10 "Business Days". We were open three nights until 7:00 p.m. and two nights until 9:00 p.m. Sat until 2:00 p.m. And closed on Sunday, But our heaviest hours were always between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on a daily basis.

    But working as a counter man was pure nirvana,...... totally surrounded by "all things Hot Rod" it was like being a Kid in the Toy Department at big Department Stores just before Christmas, only better ! , I got a chance to build relationships with Customers, you might not remember there name but you knew what car they were working on and what they were doing to it, I had a chance to answer there questions and help them with decisions on what to do, when they were done building there car or installing the parts you sold them it was common for them to bring the car in so you could see it, Or if you seen them on Telegraph or the Strip (on Sunday) you would talk to them,..... A guy that came in looking for parts for his T-Bucket way back then is still my Best Friend today.

    Angelo had a great Idea in that he had a Ford, Chevy and Mopar guy along with other guys that had other specific knowledge in every store. It was a great time in Hot Rodding, It was easy to weed out the real deal from the wanna be's really quick, but we never discouraged anybody,..... Because with rare exception everyone that grabbed that "chrome plated camshaft door handle" and walked in loved Hot Rod's ,.... You have to remember back in the early 70's there weren't many Car Shows, Rod Runs or Swap Meets,..... so anyone into Cars was drawn to us like a moth to a flame.

    It wasn't unusual to see Wayne Gapp, Jack Roush, Chuck Miller, Don Carlton, Paul Hatton, Frank Mack, E.J. Potter, Bob Kaiser, Larry Shinoda, The DeLorean brothers, Ron Mancini as well as many others, even Don Garlits and Linda Vaughn (with Angelo of coarse) come in at any given time,........ Is the day of the Local Speed Shop coming to a end ?,.... well sadly as things change in the way the world does business I would say we will never see a time like that again ( the world changes), But for you young guys, I wish you had a chance to experienced those days,.... I wish you could understand what a big part of Hot Rod History is slowly dying right before our eyes, some shops might be starting up and old ones doing good,.... but I don't think it could ever be like it was in the day,.........

    Sorry for the rambling, just wanted to add my 2 cents.




    So, how about it, any good stories or recollections of the impressions that Hot Rod/ Speed Shops made on your youthful Grey matter,..... sights sounds, friends,stories,.......... :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2010
    alanp561 likes this.
  2. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,849

    Harms Way
    Member

    Bump a very old thread,..... nobody has stories of back in the day ?:)
     
  3. Digging through some old Magazines I found this. Still has 2 new stickers.
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Muttley
    Joined: Nov 30, 2003
    Posts: 18,320

    Muttley
    Member

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  5. I'm sure Angelo Giampetroni had some stories to tell ;) ...

    [​IMG]
    HRM April 77 Cover.jpg
     
  6. NITROFC
    Joined: Apr 17, 2001
    Posts: 6,189

    NITROFC
    BANNED

    A few more ...................
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,849

    Harms Way
    Member

    I found a old catalog,... (I think this was after I left) I hope you guys can read the prices,... pay attention to the brand new empty and short blocks (Including 426 Hemi's),.... If memory serves me right I think we had cylinder heads for everything but the Hemi's,... those you had to go to Mancini's for,...... Almost everything was in the warehouse,....

    Sorry about the quality of the scans,... I will try it again eventually, but I have a "Fisher-Price" scanner,.. when the scan is complete, Big Bird pops up ! :D,........ No,. I am just kidding about that.

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2010
  8. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,849

    Harms Way
    Member

  9. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,849

    Harms Way
    Member

  10. I worked for Ramchargers during the 1978 - 84 period. The original ('High & Mighty') Ramchargers were long gone, but the second wave guys ran it. Ex-Chrysler type Dick Skoglund ran the business end, and Phil Goulet, Leroy Palarchio, and and others ran the retail end. They were the the crew who ran the Top Fuel and Funny Car teams back in the day. They had some interesting stories to tell. All that was long gone by the late 1970's when Dean Nicopolis carried on the name on his Super Stock 'Cuda, and Leroy ran a alcohol funny car then too.

    I picked up a lot of deals at the front counter. Hemi and Max Wedge stuff came in often, and I grabbed what I could. How about a drive home condition 1966 Hemi Charger for $350!

    Gratiot was the enemy early on, but Ramchargers refocused their efforts on the Murray's Auto Supply market (like O'Reillys now) in the early '80's. After I left they tried to get into the Mustang 5.0 and import market, but by then they lost their way (Summit and Jegs contributed too) and finally disappeared a few year ago when DST bought out the remains for their 'Detroit Speed Shops' attempt.

    It was fun while it lasted.

    Steve
     
  11. Bump to the top so I can read more stories about my old stomping grounds in Michigan.
     
  12. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,849

    Harms Way
    Member

    Did you work at the location on Plymouth Road ?,...

    There were the smaller shops to; Skippys speed shop, Mid America speed center, Raceland, Mayfair, Redford Speed,.. Just to name a few of the last hang-ons.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2010
  13. old rat
    Joined: Oct 22, 2009
    Posts: 86

    old rat
    Member

    I lived out by 13 mile and Jef. The first time I walked into GAS at 17 years old in 65 I thought I had died and gone to gear head heavon. bodies and frames and wheels and engines and everything else hanging on the walls and sitting on the floor where you could actually see all those wonders that were in THE BOOK. WOW ! Great memories. Thanks I almost forgot about it.:)
     

  14. Yeah, the Livonia shop. Early on I drove the parts truck and packed mail order boxes, but soon move to the front counter.

    Steve
     
  15. As a Chrysler guy, I initially found Ramchargers kinda a letdown, from my just out of HS in the mid 90's perspective. Anything I needed for my Duster was usually "special order"; very rarely was a Mopar Performance part other than valve covers in stock. But when I bought a "5 oh", things changed! Ramchargers was like heaven then, as it seemed to cater mostly to the Mustang guys! When they switched to Detroit Speed, I had alot of good contacts up there to help guide me from making "newbie" mistakes with the Mustang. Scott was one of the best, he went out of his way to help my neighbor and I whenever we went in there.

    I do miss having them so close... as there really aren't any "speed" shops around the west side anymore-RIP Nitehawk in Plymouth, Ramchargers/Detroit Speed, etc.

    Is Walt's in Dearborn Heights still open? Fat Hack, choo out there? ;)

    JK
     
  16. Gasser 57
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 783

    Gasser 57
    Member
    from New Jersey

    Does anybody have a pic of the "gifted" brunette that used to be in the magazine mail order ads in the late 70's? I think she was in the the Gratiot ads but may have been another mail order company.
     
  17. Dang,I had a few old GAS catalogs years ago;lost them with the rest of the library. We had one in Flint back in the late 70's and very early 80's;what a freakin' candy store for us. A friend worked there,knew his shit and was a big help to me.

    When I lived in the Detroit area back in the mid 70's,I frequented GAS,Ramchargers,Mayfair,Hi-Performance Auto in Waterford,Redford Speed,Booth-Arons,N&S,and probably a couple of others now forgotten. One end of my old(36+ year old Proto) tool box has stickers for a number of the old Detroit area shops. When I upgrade to a better box(needed soon),I'd like to try and save some of these and transfer them to the new piece-any ideas on how without stretching the (bleep) out of them? They've been there since 1974-5!

    N&S Automotive was the last place I knew of that had the infamous "North Woodward Timing Association" decals. I used to have a bunch;long gone now.

    I agree;where are the old school speed shops? Would/could they survive today? I'm rather surprised that there aren't more around my area;despite the job loss and the "Economy In Crisis"(as the blond hottie on the local news channel likes to say),there's still a great interest in cars and performance.

    I do remember the hot brunette in the ads;grrrrrrr...
     
  18. Are you still local? If so there is a guy who still sells the North Woodward decals at the major swap meets. He'll probably be at Autorama.
    I have one of the jackets- purchased at Ramchargers. :)
    Going to albie for some repairs on the cuff, as a matter of fact. ;)

    JK
     
  19. sota
    Joined: Oct 14, 2006
    Posts: 717

    sota
    Member

    I'll be sending the weekend with my good pal Angelo at the Detroit Autorama. I'll show him this post,he'll get a kick out of it.
     
  20. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,499

    gnichols
    Member
    from Tampa, FL

    All I want to know is how to pronounce it! Gary
     
  21. afan
    Joined: Jan 1, 2006
    Posts: 283

    afan
    Member
    from michigan

    say grayshit thats not a slam thats how you sound it out. it is an indian name for a road that runs from downtown detroit all the way to downtown port huron.
    there is a bunch of us guys that get togather every saturday morning (630am till about 9am) to talk hotrod and racing at a rochester hill resturant and most every saturday morning Angelo is there laughing and telling stories along with the rest of us .the older we get the faster we were!
     

  22. I know of who you speak(Ernie?);he was at the WPC(Mopar) show a couple of weeks ago. Great guy;we shot a herd of bull for a while. The font on the new pieces is different than the originals(I have one on a '64 B-body vent window glass),but still nice to have. Hoping to get to Autorama;waiting to see what the work schedule holds.
    Yeah,still somewhat local-about 10 miles west of Flint. Hoping that when the S.F gets out,there's a semi-decent cruise scene around here. It'll never be like the late 70's and early 80's;those were good times. Wish I had seen it in the 50's and 60's.
     
  23. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,499

    gnichols
    Member
    from Tampa, FL

    Grayshit? Really? Not possibly gray-she-ott? Or do you just want to have a joke at my expense at your next breakfast run? I think I need a "second" before I'll say it out loud in public! Gary
     
  24. sota
    Joined: Oct 14, 2006
    Posts: 717

    sota
    Member


    Yep thats close enough..
     
  25. clifforddean
    Joined: Mar 3, 2009
    Posts: 101

    clifforddean
    Member

    I think its more like grashit.
     
  26. clifforddean
    Joined: Mar 3, 2009
    Posts: 101

    clifforddean
    Member

    or gra-shit make the gra sound like ur gonna say grass.
     
  27. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,849

    Harms Way
    Member

    Grrrrrr-ash-hit :D
     
  28. afan
    Joined: Jan 1, 2006
    Posts: 283

    afan
    Member
    from michigan

    pronnounce it like harms way says . i don't pick on people or laugh at them any more than they do me. it's all fun!! that GRRRRRRR looks like the licences plate on the front of all them GTO"S
     
  29. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,849

    Harms Way
    Member

    When you see JR. tell him "Dennis from Livonia" wants to know when the Deuce Coupe will be back on the road ? :D,........ I have a great picture of him with the coupe when he was probably 19.
     
  30. chopped
    Joined: Dec 9, 2004
    Posts: 1,856

    chopped
    Member

    At least in the 60's that's how the Livonia/Redford guys pronounced it.
     

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