Telegraph Road Corridor


DriveTime to pour $600,000 into renovations at the old Taylor Ford location

The DriveTime Automotive Group Inc. plans to renovate and occupy the old Taylor Ford location on Telegraph Road, north of Goddard. DriveTime is shooting for a June opening. Not only will the new business fill a void on Telegraph and employ about 80 workers, but it plans approximately $600,000 in renovations which will vastly improve the property.

"DriveTime was a challenging new business to bring into the City," the Mayor Sollars said. "We essentially have an ordinance against new used car lots, but DriveTime appealed and the Zoning Board granted a variance. This is going to be more than your typical used car lot. DriveTime plans to renovate the facility consistent with our new Goddard Road guidelines, which includes decorative fencing, new trees, landscaping and sidewalks."

The DriveTime model is competitive on the national stage with businesses like CarMax and AutoNation. This will be one of only two DriveTime sites in Michigan.

The old Taylor Ford site has been empty for about three years. The dealership moved to southbound Telegraph, south of Northline Road, during an $8M consolidation, expansion and modernization project. The old site was owned by the Whitfield family, another auto dealer.

DriveTime is a private company headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, with a business model is focused on selling previously owned vehicles to car-buyers with poor credit. It uses a proprietary credit scoring model to finance car purchases at its dealerships in-house, and also leases vehicles. It buys 150,000 cars annually at various auctions, puts them through a 14-day inspection at one of 24 centers and makes necessary repairs before sending the vehicles to its dealerships. 

The company is owned by its chairman, Ernest Garcia II (who bought the company then known as Ugly Duckling in 1991) and Ray Fidel (who is its president and CEO). It has approximately 143 locations in 24 states, with a heavy concentration in the south. As of 2015, it employed more than 3,800 workers. Sister companies spun off from the company include GO Financial, Carvana and SilverRock Group. DriveTime ranked 3,793 on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies after posting $2 billion in revenue and adding 1,192 jobs in 2014. DriveTime ranked No. 15 on Computerworld's 100 Best Places to Work in IT list in 2015.

Dissecting Taylor Over the Decades

Telegraph Road (US 24) is one of the busiest business routes in the Detroit metropolitan area, cutting Taylor in half as it travels directly through the heart of the Downriver region. Its origins range back to 1701, when Michigan's first transportation routes were lakes, rivers and Indian trails. When telegraph lines were installed southbound to Monroe and north to Pontiac, an accompanying maintenance road was labeled "Telegraph Road." Telegraph was eventually designated M-10, but that changed to M-24 in 1926 when the United States inaugurated its numbered highway system.

As the 'Graph took a more and more prominent role in southeastern Michigan travel, it because Taylor's main artery. The City's three large automotive dealerships, Taylor Ford, Taylor Chevrolet and Telegraph Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram are all located on Telegraph, as is the community's newest retail center (Taylor Crossings Walmart Super Center, at Ecorse Road).

Beaumont Health's Taylor Campus, one of the City's largest employers and its only hospital, is also located on Telegraph Road.

Other key points of business on Telegraph Road include the Taylor Sportsplex, the largest and busiest municipal ice and indoor soccer facility Downriver, Hull Brothers Rentals (equipment rentals); Gardner White Furniture; Home Depot; Biker Bob's and the Michigan State Police Post.

The Song

The corridor has also inspired its share of nostalgia, including the song, "Telegraph Road." Mark Knopfler of the British rock band Dire Straits, inspired by a bus trip he had taken along the 'Graph, tells the tale of changing land development along its path throughout southeastern Michigan during an epic 14-minute song that features tremendous and lengthy guitar instrumentals."I was driving down this Telegraph Road... and it just went on and on and on forever," he was quoted as saying. "It's like what they call linear development. And I just started to think, I wondered how that road must have been when it started, what it must have first been. And then really that's how it all came about yeah, I just put that book together and the place where I was, I was actually sitting in the front of the tour bus at the time." The song ended up one of the group's key creations in the 1982 "Love Over Gold" album.

The Cruise

The Telegraph Cruise is another spin-off of the roadway's long and storied past. Hot rodders and classic car enthusiasts and spectators from throughout Southeast Michigan will converge on Telegraph Road for the annual cruise each July. Spanning the communities of Taylor, Dearborn Heights, Dearborn and Redford Township, the event draws thousands of fans. It is always held on the fourth weekend of July. Car club members and classic vehicle owners alike are encouraged to display their wares along Telegraph Road. Originally the Telegraph Tomorrow Classic Car Cruise, it was named for the Telegraph Tomorrow Association that worked to improve and promote the U.S. 24 (Telegraph Road) corridor.

The Original Hungry Howie's

The Hungry Howie’s story began in 1973 when Jim Hearn converted a 1,000-square-foot hamburger shop on Telegraph Road in Taylor into a carry-out and delivery pizzeria. At the time, Steve Jackson delivered pizzas for Hearn. Over the years, their partnership would evolve into what Hungry Howie’s is today. In 1982, Jackson and Hearn made a decision to franchise their operation and they awarded their first Hungry Howie’s franchise the following year. Within the next three years, 65 pizza franchises were opened. The company ended the 1980s with over 160 units, opened its 300th location in 1995, and 400th in 1999. By 2004, Hungry Howie’s was awarded “Chain of the Year” by Pizza Today magazine and opened their 500th pizza location in 2005.

Dedicated to a Fallen Police Officer

In June 2012, Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill from the Michigan Legislature that designated a section of Telegraph Road in Taylor for Cpl. Matthew Edwards, a member of the Taylor Police Department who was killed in the line of duty.

matthew edwards