AUTO MAGIC

Clas­sic Remise Düs­sel­dorf has carved out a unique niche in the world of vin­tage trans­porta­tion

Business Traveler (USA) - - CONTENTS - WORDS DAN BOOTH

Clas­sic Remise Düs­sel­dorf has carved out a unique niche in the world of vin­tage trans­porta­tion

There’s some­thing en­chant­ing, al­most mys­ti­cal, about the mar­riage of sculp­tured steel, curv­ing glass and sparkling chrome that is the au­to­mo­bile. Through­out the his­tory of the mo­tor car, an in­fi­nite va­ri­ety of shapes, col­ors and styles of driv­ing ma­chines have graced the open road. This au­to­mo­tive gestalt be­came some­thing more akin to a spir­i­tual ex­pe­ri­ence the mo­ment I walked into the ex­pan­sive cov­ered hall of the Clas­sic Remise Düs­sel­dorf. The vast num­ber of vin­tage au­to­mo­biles on dis­play was im­pres­sive, to be sure. But more awe in­spir­ing was their sheer splen­dor – time­less mas­ter­pieces of the au­to­mo­tive art, ev­ery­thing from Ital­ian road­sters to Amer­i­can mus­cle cars – all look­ing shiny new and show­room fresh re­gard­less of their age.

Clas­sic Remise – in Ger­man the word means “coach house” – is cer­tainly the most un­usual auto show­room I’ve ever seen. Ac­tu­ally to call it merely a show­room doesn’t be­gin to cap­ture the feel; it’s as much a mu­seum, art ex­hibit and event space. This is def­i­nitely not your Un­cle Fred’s used car lot. From the out­side the struc­ture is big, but un­pre­pos­sess­ing. In­side is a dif­fer­ent world.

The 1930s build­ing was once a lo­co­mo­tive round­house; steam en­gines were driven onto a gi­ant turntable which trun­dled around to point the lo­co­mo­tive to­ward one of two dozen en­gine stalls where main­te­nance on the beast was per­formed. With the ad­vent of diesel and elec­tric mo­tive power for the rail­roads, steam dis­ap­peared and with it the need for such fa­cil­i­ties.

In 2006 in a twist of fate, the trans­porta­tion gods or­dained that this build­ing be rein­car­nated as Clas­sic Remise Düs­sel­dorf. The mas­sive brick round­house has been re­pur­posed as a multi-level space with show­rooms, garage and ser­vice spa­ces, re­tail shops and of­fices. The open area once oc­cu­pied by the turntable has been cov­ered by a translu­cent roof – per­fect light­ing for show­cas­ing bril­liant sheet metal fin­ishes. The 200,000-square-foot build­ing even boasts its own bistro over­look­ing the show­room floor and in the sum­mer­time an out­door beer gar­den (it is Ger­many, af­ter all).

CARS GALORE

Of course, the real stars of Clas­sic Remise Düs­sel­dorf are the cars. Lin­ing the semi-cir­cle are 75 glass garages where the proud own­ers of some truly unique ve­hi­cles dis­play their ma­chines for us to get a glimpse. It’s here I found some in­trigu­ing rar­i­ties like a sleek VW con­cept car that looked like it never stopped and a pon­der­ous Mercedes sedan that sat so low, it looked like it would never go. The sedan, I’m told, was once the per­sonal ve­hi­cle of Soviet leader Leonid Brezh­nev, so I’m guess­ing car­ried a bit of ex­tra ar­mor pro­tec­tion.

One of the dealer show­rooms is strictly Mor­gans, both re­stored orig­i­nals and new-build re­pro­duc­tions. And just down the hall an­other dealer is of­fer­ing a real show­stop­per, a 1957 Cadil­lac El­do­rado Brougham. This hand-built beauty comes com­plete with its orig­i­nal stain­less steel roof, rear-hinged rear doors (re­mem­ber “sui­cide doors”?) and a ton of ex­tras. In its day this vin­tage El­do­rado sold for more than a Rolls Royce Sil­ver Cloud.

Out on the floor, the trea­sures are ev­ery­where. The first bit of bling to catch my eye was – what else? – an As­ton Martin DB5 in what ap­peared to be mint con­di­tion. I couldn’t re­sist a selfie in front of the iconic James Bond car. Next to it was a nifty lit­tle bird’s egg blue Maserati 3500GT that looked like it would be a spiffy Sun­day-with-thetop-down ride. Across the way was a pris­tine ’66 Mus­tang fast­back – re­tail, a mere €39,900 ($45,500).

The floor is chock-a-block with rows and rows of Mercedes and BMWs from staid sedans to well-loved rally cars, as well as plenty of Porsches of all vin­tages – hardly sur­pris­ing given the Ger­man affin­ity for Ger­man en­gi­neer­ing. There’s even a Porsche diesel trac­tor, def­i­nitely in­tended for farm­ing, yet the curves are un­mis­tak­ably the Pro­fes­sor’s hand­i­work. But the rest of the world is well-rep­re­sented too: the Ital­ians, the Bri­tish, the French, the Ja­panese and the Amer­i­cans.

DRIVE ON

In fact al­most any­thing with a mo­tor and wheels is part of the Remise re­mit. How­ever, more than any vin­tage car mu­seum ap­peal, what gives the place its spe­cial at­mos­phere is the en­ergy of a liv­ing au­to­mo­tive ecosys­tem. There are garages, ser­vices and deal­ers for clas­sic cars, where the ve­hi­cles are de­liv­ered, re­paired, bought and sold. In ad­di­tion this mo­tor head won­der­land is topped off with re­tail shops sell­ing all things car-re­lated from spare parts to cloth­ing, model cars and ac­ces­sories.

Guided tours are avail­able in Ger­man and English to help vis­i­tors delve deeper into the ori­gin of the Clas­sic Remise Düs­sel­dorf it­self and the his­tory of the round­house build­ing, as well as get­ting a look in­side the work­shops where the clas­sic cars are be­ing ser­viced and re­paired. The tours are avail­able for groups up to 30 peo­ple. Tours last ap­prox­i­mately 45 min­utes and cost €100 in Ger­man or €120 in English, plus 19 per­cent sales tax per group.

With all the built-in glitz and glamor, it’s lit­tle won­der Clas­sic Remise Düs­sel­dorf has be­come a much sought af­ter venue for meet­ings and events. The com­bi­na­tion of the his­toric in­dus­trial ar­chi­tec­ture and the ex­ten­sive dis­play of clas­sic cars pro­vides a one-of-a-kind back­drop for get-to­geth­ers of all sizes and in­ter­ests. Meet­ing spa­ces vary from small con­fer­ence rooms to the 9,600-square-foot Event Hall which can ac­com­mo­date up to 600 guests, or can be sub­di­vided in sev­eral con­fig­u­ra­tions. This space is suit­able for large par­ties or ban­quets, as well as trade shows, work­shops or ex­hi­bi­tions.

The Clas­sic Remise Düs­sel­dorf is lo­cated in the Wer­sten dis­trict in the south­east­ern sec­tion of the city. It’s not ex­actly con­ve­nient to get to – the near­est U-bahn stop is the Wer­stener Dorf­s­traße sta­tion, about a 10 minute walk. But if you’re a car lover, or just ap­pre­ci­ate beau­ti­ful de­sign through the years, it’s well worth the trip. Hours are 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Mon-Sat, 10:00 AM to 8:00 AM Sun­day. Ad­mis­sion is free.

Clas­sic Remise Düs­sel­dorf, Harff­s­trasse 110a, 40591 Düs­sel­dorf. Tel +49 211 22950570; remise.de.

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