Classic Car Lounges – by collectors for collectors

Classic car collectors often find that as their passion grows, so does their need for space. Suddenly their own garage isn’t big enough. Building an extension or a whole new structure may be an option for some, but most have to start looking for a bigger garage or warehouse elsewhere. Ideally, their collection’s new home will provide their valuable cars with a secure environment and optimum conditions.

Collector Adrian Gattiker faced exactly this situation some years ago. Finding suitable accommodation for his cars and those of a friend was made easier by his day job as a real estate entrepreneur. And he managed to rent out the additional space left over in no time at all: a good sign that it might be worth starting on a second project. Adrian Gattiker tells us how “first|carlounge” has allowed him to combine his passion with his business.

Q: Why did you start collecting classic cars in the first place?

When I was thirteen I was able to learn how to drive the whole car fleet at my father’s business. There were some great cars back then, including a Ford Transit, a Mercedes L319 and my dad’s Citroen DS 21. My affinity to these purist vehicles – no driving aids, warning sounds or visual signals in the cockpit – has always stayed with me. I bought my first classic, a 12-cylinder Ferrari, from a good friend more than ten years ago.

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Photo: Adrian Gattiker and Christian Gell.

Q: Every collector has a particular interest or preference. What’s your specialist subject as a collector?

My passion is for sports cars. The way sports cars have evolved over the last sixty years is amazing. In the fifties there were already light, powerful cars like the Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing, which set records at the Mille Miglia and elsewhere. Then in the seventies, a new generation of design icons and technical masterpieces came onto the market, like the Lamborghini Miura. In the 1990s a lot of better-known icons like the Ferrari F40 stole all the attention.

Q: In your working life you’re in the property business. Presumably work and hobby came together nicely in your storage project?

Definitely. The idea originated with my desire to share my beloved hobby with friends, which simply led to even more happiness and fun. When I was given a big commercial lot to market, I saw my opportunity. The property was ideally situated, easily reached from the left shore of Lake Zurich, and on one of the nicest roads in central Switzerland for congestion-free driving. When I told my friend Christian Gell about the plan, he immediately offered to join me. And that’s how our great partnership formed around the first|carlounge concept.

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Q: Space in your first property near Pfäffikon is fully booked out. What do collectors want when they come to you with their cars?

On the one hand they’re looking for a chance to spend time with like-minded people – fellow petrolheads – in a conducive environment. Some great groups have been formed that meet up regularly in the lounge. Secondly, there’s the security aspect, which is very important to most of them. Our tenants want to be sure that their precious cars are being kept safe and sound. And then there are the obvious practical things like extra-wide parking spaces, power points for charging batteries, and vehicle maintenance services. There are also “VIP” areas, which are ideal for people with extensive collections.

Q: You’re now planning a second “car hotel”. Is the recipe the same?

Yes, we’re using the same recipe for our next first|carlounge in Lucerne, and this recipe is: “by enthusiasts for enthusiasts”. It’s why people immediately feel at home when they come to us with their treasures. Very few tenants give up their spaces, so we know they feel at home; it’s also why we had to start a waiting list for the original first|carlounge in Feusisberg. We planned the basic concept meticulously, bringing in lots of different specialists and experts to help, and all this work has paid off brilliantly. We don’t need to change much at all.

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Having said that, the premises in Emmen near Lucerne, a hangar designed by architect Heinz Isler, does have its own unique and amazing atmosphere. The ceilings are 10 meters high, with no supporting pillars, and there’s room for almost 100 cars. At the end of the hall we have built the Cockpit Lounge , 4 meters off the ground, allowing tenants to gaze down at all the cars as they enjoy a drink and philosophize! Our second first|carlounge, which is located right next to the runway of the Swiss Airforce Base in Emmen, is a unique and completely unprecedented facility for housing cars. Unsurprisingly, there has been great interest in booking spaces. The doors will open to let in the first cars on October 15.

Q: Cars are most fun when you drive them. Do your car lounges help drivers prepare for short trips, or even for a grand tour?

We offer tenants various care and maintenance services and packages. All these services are provided by approved external specialists.

Q: Both car lounges are located in very attractive areas. Can you tell us your favorite routes around Feusisberg and Emmen?

From the first|carlounge in Feusisberg, I love to go out and drive the relatively empty roads of central Switzerland. One of my favorite routes goes to Biberbrugg and Sattel, down to Steinerberg and then onwards to Arth and Küssnacht. You then go along Lake Lucerne and stop for a cigar in the lakeside garden at Parkhotel Vitznau. You can then return through Gersau, Brunnen, Seewen, Sattel, Morgarten, over the Ratenpass and back to Feusisberg.

For further information please visit www.firstcarlounge.ch.

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