The Trucks of 'Da Yoop' in Michigan

 Da Yoop Extra-Ford Model A II

Words and photos by Robby DeGraff

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is home to some of the wackiest, coolest and most bizarre vehicles I’ve ever seen. You can find everything from a lifted Chevy Silverado that proudly plays in mud while wearing Confederate flag livery to rusty Jeep CJs sitting in peoples’ front yards, combating the overgrown grass, just waiting to be sold.

I’ve always enjoyed searching for the four-wheeled hidden treasures that lurk behind used-car lots, inside old barns and off the beaten path. As a gearhead, you become excited when you discover something that once had a great past.

Da Yoop Willys Truck II

It’s a quest to find out everything you can, by looking through photos, wiping the dust off the VIN and talking with other enthusiasts. The UP — or “Da Yoop,” as spoken by the locals — was a perfect place for this.

I stopped at Lutey’s Heritage Motors to check out a 1929 Ford half-ton pickup with an aftermarket snowmobile conversion.  After a few helpful emails with the dealership, I learned a bit more about this unique pickup.

Da Yoop Model A Snow II

Kits like the one seen on this pickup were popular among rural mail carriers, commercial fishermen, woodworkers and farmers who lived in the Northern snowy areas of the country. Although there were several styles of snowmobile conversions for the Model A and T, the one pictured here features the easy conversion kit with removable front skis, along with a second rear axle for the longer tracks. Some snow kits even had permanently mounted skis up front. Seems like a perfect vehicle for the stormy winters in the UP.

Da Yoop 67 Jeepster II

Toward the back of the lot was a tan 1967 Jeepster Commando wagon still wearing Michigan plates from 1979. Under a tree and fading away in the sun was a 1950s Willys Jeep pickup begging for restoration.

Da Yoop Buick Snow Plow II

“Christine on Steroids,” as Da Yoopers would call it, caught my eye as I passed through Ishpeming. I pulled over to stop at Da Yoopers Tourist Trap, an outdoor collection of hilariously strange vehicles and figurines. (Who are Da Yoopers? Head over to YouTube and search for “Rusty Chevrolet.”)

Back to Christine, that’s a 1957 Buick Special mounted onto a 1974 Chevrolet three-quarter-ton truck frame.  Who wouldn’t want to plow with that beast?

Da Yoop Big Gus ChainSaw II

A small-block Chevy V-8 powers “Big Gus,” the world’s largest chainsaw. It’s a whopping 22 feet long and 6 feet tall. Then you’ll stumble across a big 1947-49 International KB-5 with the world’s largest firing gun mounted on the rear flatbed. That 35-foot gun is called “Big Ernie.”

Da Yoop International Big Gun II 

Tell us: What’s been the craziest or most unique truck you’ve seen on your vacation?



Just like your E series the F series needs a significant overhaul. Look at where you need to be in a decade and where you are now with your 1/2 ton pickups. If you the NA manufacturers can't see what's coming then bailouts will be the norm in the NA auto industry.

Look at the current successful auto manufacturers. VW, Toyota, Honda, BMW etc. They started building "global" vehicles that the world wanted back in the 70s. The US and French didn't, they wanted to maintain there unique differences. But your research didn't tell you most humans are the same and want the same from a vehicle. Aside from pickups have a look at the vehicles that sell, 4 and 6 cylinder imports. Even the Ford and GMs cars are "imported".

Ford, GM concentrated on trying to create and maintain specific and unique markets and they got beaten. Chrysler never had a chance globally. But to give them credit they started to globalise in the 90s, but your NA vehicle quality is inferior to most of what is available globally.

Right now because of trade barriers, the Big 3 are trying to maintain their last bastion, 1/2 ton pickups. This will come at the expense of your industry, unless you start to create genuine gloabl vehicles.

Your mid size pickups are outdated because of the lack of real competition. It's not that the 1/2 ton pickups are so great. How can any market sell pickups that would not even be competitive in the developing world. That is the real state of your mid size market.

The Big 3 need to sit down and have a serious look at how they are approaching the new global market.

They need to start replacing your 1/2 ton pickups with globals that they are currently building. Or you will end up like the 70s when the "yank tanks" dissappeared.

But what is killing the Big 3 is the "US Management" model, as I have been saying hopefully Fiat will give Chrysler a boost and then maybe GM and Ford will look at how to modernise their NA operations and vehicle lineup.

Your auto industry needs to come up with a consistent plan so their future remains viable. Just cost cutting and rationalising isn't going to save them, they need something tangible for the future.

@Big Al from Oz - I'll ask again since you'll only answer with bailouts, tariffs, the world history of cars and their historic quality and lumping current NA full-size trucks with E-vans...

What innovation is missing from current NA full-size trucks?

Since you brought it up, what study shows NA full-size trucks inferior in quality to any trucks found anywhere. Or vs cars from anywhere?

You hear about 700K to million mile E and F-series all the time, but when to you hear the same about mid-size trucks?

You ignore the fact that NA mostly buys mid to lower level mid-size so the profit has never been really there. They went away for a reason... Bingo! Because we have a better alternative that you don't!

You talk about how mid-size trucks are preferred all over the world, but they don't exactly have a choice now do they? It's either estate wagons, commercial vans or mid-size trucks. Of couse they're gonna sell a lot of those. Besides, mid-size trucks are really 9/10ths the size at 10/10ths the price.

A world without Coca-Cola and Levi's is going to buy a lot of Shasta cola and Wrangler jeans...

We have these as well.

Check out the power and torque figure and we had turbo six Fords for over 10 years.

These have a 4.5 V8 turbo diesel. Standard these will give the best a run off road. These are used where heavy 4x4 use is needed.

There is a market for mid size trucks in NA that is my argument. As I have stated, just look at your August and yearly figures and you will see as a percentage the "smaller" pickups are increasing at a much quicker rate than the 1/2 ton trucks in sales. That increase would be a lot higher if you had a decent range of mid size trucks to choose from.

I have nothing against 1/2 ton trucks competing fairly alongside mid size trucks. They are great as an everyday driver or muscle car or for camping and towing a boat.

But you can't "Americanise" them and turn them into SUVs like your 1/2 ton pickups. Keep them as they are. And sell them with diesels.

The profits are there if your market was fair, they currently aren't there because of the uncompetitive environment designed by the Big 3 and your government. 180 countries buy this style of truck and as I stated not many 1/2 pickups are sold outside of NA. If your trucks were cheap and durable enough they would be sold in those 180 countries. Because money does count.

You from Ford and the GM and Chrysler people have many lines of cars that aren't turning a big profit. Imagine bringing in a vehicle that will eat at F truck and SUV sales. Ford in the US doesn't want that. None of your manufacturers want that, becasue you guys are at the end of your financial tether.

If your country tries to maintain its "uniqueness" the global economy will overtake you. Protectionism never worked in the past and it will not work in the future.

Import these trucks as this will force your manufacturers to find better ways of improving build quality and safety of your trucks.

My mother in NJ bought a Focus earlier this year. We have nearly the same vehicle here. The interior of her Focus looked liked it was made from recycled plastic icecream containers. I couldn't believe it. It wouldn't have even sold in Australia for the $17 000 she paid. A lot of your American vehicles are built cheap to sell cheap. A Korean manufactured vehicle is vastly superior in build quality.

There are a multitude of manufacturers of mid size trucks as well. In Australia alone there are at least 10-12 companies selling them and there are more out there.

If you want the US to improve and enhance your standard of living start competing and building mid size trucks that can be exported, not your American version of a truck.

I would love to see NA mid size and full size trucks here, but they would need diesel and a decent suspension that can be used for work.

Remember DenverMike there is a huge market outside of NA. Over 72 million vehicles were sold this year globally only one sixth were sold in the US. Last year 65 million were sold globally and that is with a sick US, Japanese and Euro economy. See the increase and they predict this increase is sustainable for the next 20 years. Which means the US market will be almost like our market, insignificant by global standards.

Fair competition will make for a better world.

DenverMike when I questions diesel in your vehicles you defended Ford and argued against diesel. When I questioned about the F-650 V10 trucks you stated you owned a trucking company and you would only use gas trucks.

Ford's line at the moment is Eco Boost engines, whether in the US or Eurozone. Ford is pushing gasoline for their light vehicles worldwide.

I have read some very interesting articles in regards to this as Ford started this gasoline program back in 2004 (I think). Ford feels with the reduced weight of a gas engine and the lower cost of building gas vehicles the consumer will buy them. Even with a reduced economy of the engine.

I was side tracked and came back on the different paragraph.

"DenverMike when I questions diesel in your vehicles you defended Ford and argued against diesel. When I questioned about the F-650 V10 trucks you stated you owned a trucking company and you would only use gas trucks."

I didn't finish this paragraph.

So far the statements and facts supporting your statements marry up to the what I have read about Fords future direction concerning gas engines. Your comments almost make you appear to be a stooge for Ford. You do not troll which I'm grateful for.

That V10 F-650 is verging on irresponsible, sorry, but it is such a waste of a resource. We do run trucks that size and gas could never have been considered. I'm sorry but investing that kind of money into a vehicle it would have to be worked almost all day and diesel will significantly cheaper to operate even in NA.

Eco Boost engines will not save as much as hoped. Whenever you load the engine the boost is will consume a lot more fuel. Yes they have gotten a torquer engine at a lower level, but gas unlike diesel requires alot more fuel to provide the equivalent torque.

If Eco Boost was as good as the marketing is trying to make out it would be used in all forms of equipment.

So in theory if you want V8 power you will nearly have V8 economy.

Look outside of the NA market to get an idea of what will be happening in the US 10 years from now. Your NA auto market has to change because the price of fuel will rise and rise, remember how much the global market is increasing yearly.

A significant amount of these vehicles sold aren't replacement vehicles like in Australia, Europe, Japan and NA. These are first time vehicles. Fuel usage is rising very quickly.

@Big Al from Oz - 200-series? 79-series with 3 across seating? Solid front axles? V8s?

These are evolving into 1/2 tons! It's only natural that this happens and why not have the option???

If you're not feeling it, just opt out. If you'd rather have a car based Ute with an open bed, get one before they go away. We lost our El Caminos and Ranchero a long time ago, but were loved by many, like my uncle.

How is the U.S. environment hostile to small or mid-size trucks? Isuzu was here and abandoned it. Same with Mitsu. Gone. VW and Subaru both had small trucks here. Gone. Who stopped them other than themselves? Lack of sales and profit might have lead to it, you tell me. How's he Ridgeline doing? Is it still in production? Was that U.S. intervention? You're a conspiracy theorist now?

I don't know how unique our car market is. You said it was mostly global now except for full-size trucks. The Focus is global, isn't it? I don't think its competitors feel much less plasticky and if so, I don't think people in that price range really care. Cars like that are for commuting mostly, hardly ever get washed and get trashed with coffee and soda stains everywhere. What our cars lack in quality or soft touch plastics is marginal or mostly in your head. You got any real data...

Now our truck market is unique, I mean yeah our trucks are unique, but with buyers having full-size as an option, compact and then mid-size trucks slowly became obsolete. Obsolete as far as retail customers go and they're the ones that option trucks to the hilt. They've gone with full-size and took the profits with them. Existing mid-size truck sales and whatever upticks or trends you see in the market are mostly base trucks bought by fleet managers. That plus base trucks are bought up by commuters looking for a gas sipping alternatives to cheesy Corollas, Yaris' or whatever. The profits about non existent so global OEMs will stay away from NA as long as full-size are around. They're just following the money and I'm sure it's anywhere full-size are not.

I still don't see what your deal is. Why draw the battle line between mid and full-size? Maybe you just like to argue, but just 1/10th girth and length separates them. Global mid-size will continue to grow in size/GVWR and NA 1/2 tons may shrink a bit, thanks to CAFE, until there no discernible difference. Just wait a few years and you won't have anything to argue about. But I'm sure you'll find something.

No, I find it laughable when I read articles that reflect or backup exactly what I've been saying all along about diesels and how obsolete and pointless they've become. My view on diesels vs gas isn't unique by any stretch of the imagination. Come to America and ask around. I mean to real truck guys that show up at the gas station with dusty clothes and without Armor-All on their tires.

Ford is just following market trends. Anything wrong with that or should they continue building what we don't want and make 'themselves' obsolete?

The Eco-Boost was mean as alternative to the gas V8 and not diesels and I agree it won't replace either.

Now how the heck would a V-10 purchase be irresponsible? Spending 8 to $10K extra on a high maintenance diesel that you'll most likely never get a return on is without a doubt irresponsible.

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