Tucked away in a former police stable on Pier 76, the Classic Car Club of Manhattan is an automotive Mecca on a decidedly not car-friendly island.
The 10-year-old club, which recently moved to its new home in Hudson Yards from SoHo, provides 400 members with access to a list of classic and exotic automobiles, along with a range of social activities.
"Some of the members are die-hard race fans or car enthusiasts," membership director (and amateur racing driver) Adam Miller said.
The club's collection is impressive both for its serious automotive firepower (think Ferrari 458 or Lamborghini Huracan), but also for a range of cars beloved by drivers — like a race-modified BMW M3 or an Acura NSX, a Japanese sports car famous for having been influenced by three-time Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna.
Photos by Hollis Johnson.
Some Manhattanites may require a bit of coaching before they get behind the wheel.
"It's not unusual to have someone join who has never driven a manual [transmission]," Miller said.
The club provides a list of teaching events, and will even rent out the parking lot at the Meadowlands or the New Jersey Motorsports Park for some in-car training.
They offer track days at nearby road courses, and for those interested in racing, the club fields a few Miata-based race cars in some amateur events across the eastern seaboard.
"It's the biggest rush you can legally get," Miller said.
There are even organized trips to some of the world's most famous racetracks, like the Nürburgring in Germany or Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
Dues to participate in the club's social events are $180 a month, and from there members can pay for a package of "points" to book the cars. A typical member will pay about $9,000, plus the base dues, to drive for 30 days out of the year.
On a sunny Friday afternoon, the garage was already missing cars as members disappeared on weekend adventures.
"We are not in the rental business," Miller said. "When someone takes out a car it's a 'booking.'"
To the enthusiast, the club provides the joys of driving a classic or exotic car without the headaches of ownership.
"For most of our members, returning here and giving the keys back is a big relief," Miller said.
That's when a team of in-house mechanics take over, providing service and repairs to classics or finicky exotics.
Once finished, the club will keep the doors open and the public to wander in and look at the collection free of charge, co-founder Michael Prichinello said.
As part of its proposal to the Hudson River Parks Trust for the unusual site, the club will also provide a host of services for non-members, including turning an adjacent parking lot into a public plaza, creating kayak and paddleboard storage space and access to the river below, and hosting a list of educational events.
"We've even thought of doing a program where we turn a [gasoline-powered] car into an electric car," Prichinello said. "Why not? We have such good mechanics here."
There are also plans for public car shows and automotive art exhibits.
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