How Do You Get a JC Whitney Parts Catalog?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Apr 15, 2020 12:47:59 AM ET
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Daniel Acker/Getty Images

JC Whitney no longer prints its iconic mail-order catalog of automotive parts and accessories, according to its website. As an alternative, the JC Whitney website offers free electronic versions of the catalogs, or e-catalogs, for the automobile brand Jeep as well as the specialty segment Truck. As of this writing, other specialty books that JC Whitney printed and distributed regularly to subscribers in the past, such as Auto, Motorcycle and Volkswagen catalogs, are also no longer in print.

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How to Locate the JC Whitney Free E-catalog

There are a few steps to take to access the JC Whitney website and its e-catalogs. First, go to the JC Whitney website. Once there, scroll down to the bottom of the page. Next, look for the words “Get the JC Whitney E-Catalog” and click on “E-Catalog” next to it. Finally, click the corresponding button on the page to select the Jeep CJ and Wrangler or Truck e-catalog.

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Photo Courtesy: @JC_Whitney/Twitter

Both the JC Whitney Jeep and Truck catalogs have a special design that replicates the action of flipping through a physical paper catalog. The pages on both e-catalogs feature a full-color magazine-style layout.

How to Browse the JC Whitney Website Catalog

The website refers to its product pages as catalogs as well. To get to the website’s featured catalog section, scroll down to the bottom of the company's homepage. Under "Featured Catalogues," select how you wish to browse, either by make, part or brand.

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Photo Courtesy: @JC_Whitney/Twitter

The JC Whitney web catalog section works much like most other retail websites. Visitors who wish to purchase any of JC Whitney’s offerings have to go to the page of the specific item, add it to their cart and pay for the item on checkout.

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JC Whitney Catalog: An All-American Garage Staple

JC Whitney was the brainchild of Israel Warshawsky, a Lithuanian immigrant who opened a scrapyard in Chicago’s south side in 1915.  Warshawsky came up with the name “JC Whitney,” believing that an American-sounding business name would attract more clients. Warshawsky experienced moderate success when he focused on auto parts, particularly for the Ford Model T.

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Photo Courtesy: @JC_Whitney/Twitter

By 1934, Warshawsky’s son, Roy, joined the business and endeavored to expand beyond the Windy City. Roy decided to enter the mail-order catalog business, which gave birth to the iconic JC Whitney catalog.

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While the catalog included affordable aftermarket replacement parts, much of the financial success of JC Whitney came from the sale of accessories with higher profit margins that were also light and therefore cheaper to send by mail.

In the following decades, JC Whitney catalogs and their small print descriptions and line art drawings of the items on sale became a staple in garages and auto body shops across the United States. They appealed primarily to automotive hobbyists who were looking for affordable ways to dress up their cars with kits and keep them looking slick and updated.

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Bankruptcy, Recovery and Sale

The oil crisis that hit the U.S. in the 1970s and growing concern over air pollution hit the automotive industry hard. JC Whitney suffered from these crises as well and declared bankruptcy in 1979. With careful debt management, the company eventually recovered in the following decade, in part because of the rise of cheaper but more profitable aftermarket parts. Roy Warshawsky remained at the helm of JC Whitney until his retirement in 1991. Warshawsky died in 1997, and by 2002, the company was sold to Riverside Capital, which later formed the Whitney Automotive Group (WAG) to encompass other holdings like CarParts.com.

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Photo Courtesy: Daniel Acker/Getty Images

JC Whitney Today

Under the management of WAG, the JC Whitney brand experienced moderate success. However, the brand continued to age and failed to appeal to younger demographics. As sales continue to dwindle, Riverside decided to sell the brand while it was still profitable.

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Photo Courtesy: @JC_Whitney/Twitter

In 2010, US Auto Parts purchased WAG, including JC Whitney, for $27.5 million. The company has since slowly reworked the brand into an online digital catalog and retail website and did away with the printed catalog version. Nonetheless, the printed catalog was one of the most identifying contributions of JC Whitney to the American automotive industry.