The Mystery Of German Motors

When I was in Michigan a few weeks ago, I was driving around in the Detroit area, and I found this interesting little shop on the corner of a side street I’d ventured down. Honestly, I’d gotten a bit lost, and was sort of wandering aimlessly until I found a place that looked familiar, or at least frustrated enough to pull over and confer with the sat nav. Being a huge German car nerd, I always get a bit excited when I see a nondescript shop with the tri-colored German markings on the side. Throw in the name “German Motors” writ large in blue, and I’m geeked. I thought I’d pop in, see what was up, and maybe hand out a business card or two (being that I am in the parts business). What I found, though, was an overgrown “yard” and parking lot. There was some oddness going on here. Click through to see more of what I’m talking about.

After I’d parked, I pulled up to the side of the building and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Initially I thought it was strange that there were no cars in the parking lot at 3PM on a Thursday afternoon. After poking around, it slowly became obvious that the place was abandoned for maybe 2 years or more. The story gets stranger.
I’m, an Audi guy and a Porsche guy, so this four ringed beauty sat next to an overgrown 928 brought me to the verge of tears. As a good friend of mine always says “They were all once somebody’s baby”. I can imagine the look on the face of the guy or gal that stopped into the P-car dealer to pick up their new 928. The smile on their face as they peeled out of the dealer’s parking lot. How does a car like that get to this point? Something that was once so prized now demoted to sit rotting in the back lot of a shuttered service shop.
The Bimmer and the 924 were another sad sight. A family sedan, potentially passed down to a second generation in the same family? Did someone drive this car to college? Did they used to cruise the boulevards with their friends with this? Was it taken to the links for a round of 18 holes? And that 924… What’s its story? Perhaps a weekend cruiser? Maybe a daily driver for a while? When did its fun-to-drive nature fade in the face of old age and lack of maintenance? Why weren’t these cars ever fixed? Why weren’t these cars ever transferred to a different shop?
I know next to nothing about Mercs, but this photo stuck out to me while editing. There’s something about the juxtaposition of faded luxury and disrepair. It, a machine, has an almost anthropomorphic look of sadness to it. It’s almost like this car knows what it can be, but it’s been let down by a world that won’t let it reach its full potential.
Walking around to the front of the building, everything looks like it was just business as usual and someone closed up shop early for the weekend. There was a coke machine in the corner that was still lit. Some lights were still shining in the overhead fixtures. A computer sat unattended on the counter, just waiting to ring up a customer. The computer looked old and faded, but isn’t that a staple of your average fix-em-up shop? A clock on the wall counted down the hours, even though nobody had used it to tell time in quite some time.
Judging by the Google Maps image below, there were a few cars tucked back in the trees that had been overgrown too much for me to see. I didn’t know there was a second row of cars back there. Sad stuff. I’m guessing this was just one more casualty in the major crisis that Detroit has had lately. There’s a part of me that wants to see what it would take to buy the place and open up shop again.
German Motors Google Maps
[All photos ©2015 Hooniverse/Bradley C. Brownell/Google Maps, All Rights Reserved.]

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24 responses to “The Mystery Of German Motors”

  1. neight428 Avatar

    Pour out a Warsteiner in honor. If anything, the examples here had a shred of hope at one point. They were not yet consigned to the scrapper’s claw, which is more than one can say for the vast majority of old cars that were once beloved.

    1. Krautwursten Avatar

      Pouring away beer is an easy way to become an outcast in Germany.

      1. neight428 Avatar

        Worse than letting 928’s rot in to the earth?

        1. nanoop Avatar

          Ruining that car will cause raised eyebrows among peers – wasting beer will attract the wrath of the people.

          1. Sjalabais Avatar

            Don’t forget this is a class statement, too: Some beers are meant for lower tasks.
            Just as a 928 isn’t the most collector-bubbly Porsche. I’m almost whispering this.

        2. Krautwursten Avatar

          No, letting 928s rot is definitely worse. Spilling beer in your 928 comes close though.

  2. fritzo2162 Avatar

    There’s a scummy car dealer in Cleveland that specializes in German cars that looks very similar to this place (only this place didn’t make it). The concept is they buy all of these “at one time high end” cars from an auction, patch them up, and try to sell them. The risk is German engineering often requires some type of training, and the guys running these patch & dump places are used to fixing Fords and Chevys.

    1. Cameron Vanderhorst Avatar
      Cameron Vanderhorst

      Oh man, I bet we’re thinking of the same place. Medium-sized warehouse filled to the brim with rust and “potential” for 3/4 the price of a running example, typically.

  3. Batshitbox Avatar

    That’s not a Merc…
    This is a Merc!

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      Merc-yness is in the palm of the keyholder.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      And the look back to August, 2012 shows the back lot overgrown even then, and, red 928s parked on either side of the red Audi Coupe, so the one to the right of the Audi was moved after that. Looking at the front of the shop on Maple Road, the September, 2009 photo is the newest that appear to show the place in operation. Those Bosch posters inside are pretty cool.

  4. Tanshanomi Avatar

    How does this happen? To the cars, to the business?
    The way I see it is that there’s sort of like two basic, big, important concepts. OK? And the first one is that nothing lasts forever. There is nothing that you can do that you can keep on doing forever. Nothing. That’s it. Period. End of story. And then the other big one is that you have to be doing something. So my feeling is it’s better to willfully quit whatever it is and then go on to the next thing that you have to be doing, because you have to be doing something, than to just kind of let things fall apart…. I think that the essential nature of a quitter is to be able to cut their losses and move on. Quitting is about being willful. Quitting is about having one’s own volition to do whatever. – Evan Harris

    1. CapitalistRoader Avatar

      I think that the essential nature of a quitter is to be able to cut their losses and move on.
      Including doing your own laundry:

      1. Alff Avatar

        There’s a place for Crowder clips. This ain’t it.

    2. Alff Avatar

      I hope we see each other this weekend. Then you can explain what you wrote. I quit reading after the first sentence.

  5. Alff Avatar

    Saab and Alfa guys are 15 to 20 years ahead of you.

  6. Pauly WallNutz Avatar
    Pauly WallNutz

    its the kind of place i would love to find was owned by a relative who passed it to me suddenly. get to cut down the vegetation and find car after car, deciding if savable or not, digging through the building, maybe selling off hte cool stuff and keeping some. putting the item into hands that will appreciate them again.

  7. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Is that a slightly misplaced Camry in picture 4 next to the E28 BMW ?

    1. Cameron Vanderhorst Avatar
      Cameron Vanderhorst

      The wheels and color scream 3rd or early 4th gen Accord to me.

  8. theskig Avatar

    That’s so sad 🙁
    “They were all once somebody’s baby”

  9. mve Avatar

    It’s a sad, sad commentary on the state of affairs in Detroit. All the potential to be great, right under the surface, but no one can see through the neglect and decay. And corruption and crime and chaos.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Turnaround articles are popping up in some publications now. With a bit of luck, Detroit can become NA’s Berlin – cheap, artisan, hipster paradise. Over time, people will become parents, and if they stay, they can create a whole new and fresh economy that, finally, may create a sustainable city. Such a process will take decades though by any rate.

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