Oakleaf Old Cars

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Our founder Donnas Oakleaf started out like many farmers in the Midwest trying to make a living any way he could.  Growing up Donnas loved to work with his hands and fix things, including cars.  Slowly he started to amass a collection of cars on his homestead with his wife in rural Hartford, South Dakota.  After complications when his second son was born, Donnas decided to make salvaging cars a full time business in 1955.

 During this time, Lady Bird Johnson started the cleaning up America campaign.  Seeing an opportunity to boost an already thriving business, Donnas purchased the first car crusher to be owned and operated in South Dakota.

This mobile crusher allowed Donnas to travel and help in Lady Bird Johnsonís mission to clean up America.  Crushing anything composed of iron including bicycles, farm machinery, and rusty dilapidated cars, Donnas was able to process more metal to send off to smelting facilities that would melt it down to make recycled steel.

With so many places to travel to within the five-state area, in 1968 Donnas obtained his pilot license.  During this time, he also acquired a small airplane and turned some of his land in Hartford, South Dakota into a landing strip for airplanes. Although, he crashed some of his airplanes, one of the air planes and the air landing strip he made are still in use today.

Because of his great boom in business, in 1971 Donnas decided to sell off the majority of his car salvage business in Hartford, South Dakota and solely focus on the metals recycling end.  Still infatuated with cars, he decided to keep a small collection of his most treasured cars for himself. Even though he decided to sell off his salvage business in Hartford, in 1977 Donnas bought another salvage yard in Grand Island, Nebraska in 1977.

Over the years, Donnas continued to help recycle metal while keeping the best cars for himself and his family. During this time Donnas passed on his love and knowledge of cars and recycling to his four sons whom he hoped would one day run his business.  Sadly, on May, 10 1995 Donnas Oakleaf passed away leaving his wife and four sons in charge of his business. 

Upon his passing, the sons decided to continue his legacy and keep recycling metals in Hartford, South Dakota and the salvage yard open in Grand Island, Nebraska.  They decided that it would be best for the youngest son to take control of the salvage yard and the three eldest would jointly control the crushing and recycling business in Hartford, South Dakota along with Donnasí car collection.   

Keeping with tradition, the three sons have continued to run the metals recycling business whilst leaving the car collection mainly untouched.  Over the years, the brothers continued to collect more vehicles and the collection has grown to over 15 acres of vehicles dating from the 1915ís all the way to the present. 

Deciding that they could no longer allow the cars to just sit and rust away, they reopened the salvage yard business in 2008 and are helping people around the world restore their own little pieces of history. In late 2012, the business began the process of updating their records to an electronic database system to keep a more accurate inventory and better serve the needs of their customers. This project is still a work in progress and additional inventory is being updated daily.

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