The Warehouse

From the clean, epoxy floors of the Lingenfelter collection, we move to a bit darker, older garage that smells of gas, oil, and grease. That sweet smell that lets you know you’re in a place that revolves around one thing: cars. To the people who visit it, it’s known only as “The Warehouse.”

Located outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Warehouse is a sort of secret place that spreads only by word of mouth to those who know. Once a month, the Warehouse opens up to let visitors come in and look at the cars, show off their cars, and just talk with other motor enthusiasts about anything automotive. It may not hold super exotic cars or incredibly rare cars, but the atmosphere is pure automotive. It’s not uncommon to rub shoulders with people in the automotive industry either. I’m sure Autoweek readers know the name Dutch Mandel, and many other automotive magazine writers and editors are common. Or maybe the name Buck Mook rings a bell, it’s a place where anyone can show up.
 
Visitor parking outside becomes a show in itself. It’s impossible to know what will show up, with every month bringing out new cars, like this 270E Tri-Fuel Exige. Although it was announced back in 2008, and I’m not sure if it’s moved towards production or it’s future, but it can run on gas, ethanol or methanol or a combination.
 
The sun may add a warm feeling, but November 3rd in Michigan is anything but. During the morning the temperatures stayed a crisp 30 maybe creeping up to almost 40 degrees, but that doesn’t stop this reputed big three clay modeler from driving his high boy. All he needed was a hat and his full fur coat and he’d be fine.
 
They may be historically important in the auto world, but I wouldn’t want to be driving one of these around the streets nowadays.
 
It may be hideous or it may be beautiful, but the Citroen DS is one of those cars that you just have to stop and look at, every time.
 
This one too looks like it hasn’t been touched since the mid ’60s, it’s cool seeing a classic French car as a daily driver.
 
I’m not sure who it is, but there’s a company somewhere in Michigan that likes getting their hands on new Peugeots. It seems every month there’s a modern Peugeot out in the parking lot. It makes me wonder if they ever plan on coming back.
 
The Warehouse itself is set up with a few different sections and layouts. When you first walk in, there’s a car lift surrounded by various parts of other cars that cycle in and out of the lift area. Next to the lift there’s a parking spot where cars get some interior work, like upholstery done. You can see some cars get progressively finished visiting month after month.
 
Although motorcycles don’t have a large presence at the Warehouse, they do show up. It seems to be more ’50 and older British and German bikes that show up, with a good dose of cafe racers. That’s no surprise with the Cafe Racer Cafe just around the corner in Depot Town.
 
Down the center aisle is where the cars come in to visit, park and show off. It’s always a surprise, the cars that show up, like this 1934 Bentley for instance. Like the outside parking, the cars in the middle aisle can be a mix of everything: classic, supercar, and just crazy builds.
 
…like this 911 built by a local tuning shop Rennstat. The brown color and black bumper may not scream Porsche, but the rear air dam and dual capped exhaust mean something.
 
And then there’s the supercharger. I’m not a huge Porsche buff, so I’m not sure of the popularity of supercharged flat air-cooled engines, but I might assume it isn’t too common.
 
This little guy may look tame, but once it gets going it’s anything but. The Sunbeam Tiger is an American take on a little British sports car known as the Sunbeam Alpine. And by making it more American, I of course mean they dropped in a small block V8.
 
By far, the most common car in the Warehouse is the Jaguar E-Type, or the XKE. Now, I say it’s the most common, but in no way is that a bad thing. I personally don’t think it’s impossible to have too many E-Types. It may be my own opinion, but I would even put this car at, or close to the top of one of the best cars ever made list. Now if only one of these were a coupe.
 
The XJ-S may not be up there design-wise with the E-Type, but having that V12 logo is never bad. Although the reliability and maintenance might change my mind, it’s still a V12 in the end.
 
From the smooth and fast, to the bricks. It’s amazing to look at this Ford, and know that 85 years ago this was on the road, and the changes it would of seen it if were a human. The cars that have passed in front of this car over the years would easily cover the entire history of the automobile. Again, it’s not a car I’d jump into, but there’s respect for it and the place in history it holds.
 
And behind it sits its punk little son. Good old high boy done right, with the classic wire wheels and no fenders. Although it looks rough and untouched, this car gets around to various shows in Michigan, and I once overheard the owner claim he topped it out at over 100mph. It don’t doubt his claim, but maybe his sanity.
 
The classic stickers from past events really give the car its character, then the cracked paint, rust, and historic license plate make it complete. It may not to appeal to everyone’s taste, but before the stanced cars, the mini trucks, and muscle cars, these were the cars kids and car people wanted.
 
Ford Country Squire on the other hand, not so much. Although this is a perfect example of the diversity of the Warehouse, sitting along with the E-Types and Porsche 911s as even more common sights here. Most cars have their covers pulled back for the meeting, giving them the look of a secret stash.
 
Although customs aren’t too common, there’s still a few that reside here during the winter. Coming back month after month some cars come and go and others never go. This Ford hasn’t been here since last winter, meaning it must get some use during the summer. Although the Fiat behind is here month after month, which is kind of a shame.
 
One car that is always in a different shape and state of finish is the 777 Lotus. It currently sits with no engine and no fenders. But I can only imagine the owner is getting ready for some summer racing. Across the way is a replica of the 1928 Chrysler Le Mans entry. A couple years ago, the car was only a bare frame with some accompanying pictures and drawings.
 
One of the more odd cars inside is this Fiat from the Panamericana of 2006.
 
A race car for the street, the Porsche GT3 is never a bad sight. I’ve never seen this car here before, it was a pleasant surprise when I first passed over it thinking it was a Cayman. A few cars down sits a Porsche GT2, another car that I wouldn’t mind trying out.
 
Hidden in the back is this poor Chevy. I think this car has been in the same spot for at least three years if not more. It’s condition seems to be clean, so maybe the owner just wants to preserve it.
 
One car that I really feel bad for is this BMW 6 series. Every month the cover is never lifted and it just seems to disappear in the back. I don’t know if it’s because of the recent European car craze that seems to be invading, or just the inward facing grill that made the ’80 BMWs so different, but I just want to take this car home, clean it up a little and have some fun.
 
Tucked in another corner are the Cadillacs. This ’57 Eldorado Seville has to be another one of my favorites by far. I may have a 240SX at home, but recently these big Cadillacs have became a bit of a new obsession for me. Seeing this, like the BMW, just sitting collecting dust is hard because there’s so much potential.
 
Guarding the entry to the lower level is this Jeep. I’ve never seen a Jeep like this before, but it’s a Jeep Forward Control. Again, a car I’ve never seen before in the Warehouse, or really ever in my life.
 
The lower level holds some pretty high performance cars. A Corvette, another E-Type, and a Ferrari 512BB. But believe it or not I think it’s the car in front the 512 that is the most impressive.
 
A Lamborghini Countach. Easily the dream car of any kid from the ’80s, its shape, even by today’s standards, is extreme. Again it’s a striking car to see in person, and even more so when you remember you’re in a little warehouse in southeast Michigan. The Morgan and Ferrari next to and behind it make it even more surreal.
 
There are a few scenes that just make you wonder. Like a Rolls Royce completely blocked in by a Cadillac and Ferrari 250 or 330 variant. Not too sure how they got the Rolls in there, but I can’t imagine the owner has any plans to bring it out anytime soon.
 
I can’t tell if this is purposely this low, or if there’s something wrong in all four corners. But either way I must admit it looks pretty good. Modified cars aren’t too common in the garage, so seeing this possibly laid out Mercedes is a little different.
 
It always seems like some cars just never move. This Maserati Quattroporte isn’t a car you’d expect to see covered in dust and missing the front bumper. But that just goes, again, to show the diversity of the Warehouse, whether a car is there for the winter, being totally rebuilt, or just stored and getting work done every now and then. They’re all here.
 
Not all cars are just collecting dust. Some, like this Mercedes, are in the process of getting some engine work done. Spread throughout the Warehouse are various parts and tools laying about with some intention. Engine blocks and crankshafts are common, as are tires and various wheels.
 
For a little more rent, there are larger parking spaces surrounded with work space and tables to work more orderly. Everything you’d need from sockets to engine hoists are located in these spaces, making just about any work a breeze.
 
Or if you just need a place to sit down and do some small work. The random automobile paraphernalia adds a real home garage feel.
 
There are parts everywhere you look, like windshields waiting to be put back onto their respective cars. The racks are filled with everything from hub caps to leather rolls to steering wheels.
 
There’s a couple rooms off the main garage, like this office. It used to be the engine room but now seems to be turned into an upholstery and paint mixing room.
 
Like I said, E-Types are popular here, so popular in fact that there are parts of the car all over the place. Even the hood alone can make a nice piece of wall art.
 
Bill Vlasic from the New York Times was out talking about his book “Once Upon a Car,” which covered the Big Three during the bailouts and the market crash. Every month there’s a speaker that’ll come in and have some time to talk about something.
 
E-Type steering wheel counter piece. I think you get the popularity now.
 
On the topic of steering wheels, whatever happened to dashboards like this? And the skinny wooden steering wheels? The intergraded computers and nice big leather and carbon fiber dashboards are nice, but you can’t go wrong with the classics.
 
If you read the site’s coverage of the last Sno*Drift Rally, you might remember the Cadillac with full camo and a some black and white paint showing up. Well, here we saw a pre-production Ford cargo van parked outside as we left. May not be the most exciting spot in the world, but seeing cars that aren’t officially announced yet is always exciting.
 
To finish, many households have symbols and signs like a cross over their doorway. Well here the last face you see when you walk out of the warehouse is the man of supercars himself, Enzo Ferrari. A good place for an old poster or homage?
 
 
 
Delaney
 
 
 

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