The Driver’s Seat

If you want to store your classic, imported, racing or otherwise high-end car, you’ll want the place to have a few technical attributes. Good atmospherics – temperature and humidity control. Hard-to-beat security. Basically, something more than a standard warehouse.

Collier Car Clubs will have all that. But for founder Miles Collier, this new enterprise – opening soon in Delray Beach, with more planned for around the country – is about more than a safe, state-of-the-art space for people to keep cars. For Collier, this is about community. He even talks about “existential car guys” – his ideal client is someone who is just all about cars, who likes talking about them and working on them. The cars you own and store are almost secondary.

“On the surface, we look like a premium car storage facility,” he says. “In fact, we are created around building a community for existential car guys.

Selections from the Miles Collier Collection at Revs Institute.
Selections from the Miles Collier Collection at Revs Institute.

“There are a bunch of us out there. We define much of our activities, much of our thinking, on automobiles. We want to support people’s relationship by creating a virtuous community. What we mean by that is that, yes, you’ll be able to store your cars at Collier Car Clubs but more importantly, it will be a place where existential car guys support each other … just BS with each other about this thing they care so much about.”

(Also, about that term “car guy.” It’s a recognized one so Collier uses it, but he wants to clarify that his community is for everybody. There are no gender, age or any other barriers here as long as you love cars.)

For Collier Car Clubs chief operating officer Frank Givens, South Florida’s the perfect place to build this. “From Miami to Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach, South Florida has a large, vibrant community of car enthusiasts, making it the ideal location for the inaugural club,” he says. “We found the perfect spot in Delray Beach, easily accessible to major highways and the region’s international and private airports.

“Now is the perfect time for car enthusiasts to join us on this unique adventure. Collier Car Clubs is offering Founder Memberships for those interested in joining us in creating an active, supportive car community that is truly something special.”

Collier is not necessarily the worst person to have behind this enterprise. He describes his connection with the automotive industry as “50 years of fooling around with cars,” which is one way of putting it. A grandson of Barron Collier, the man for whom the county west of Broward is named, Miles Collier was born into cars. His father and brother’s many automotive accomplishments included founding the Automobile Racing Club of America; if you’ve ever watched the Sebring 12 hours, you’ve seen a Collier contribution to auto racing. Miles Collier founded the Revs Institute, a museum and library devoted to the study of the automobile. It includes his own collection of cars, which the BBC once referred to as “Florida’s other magic kingdom”.

So yes, 50 years of fooling around with cars. With Collier Car Clubs, he hopes to create a space where fooling around with cars is the norm. This is not a space where you park a car and forget about it.

“We will be a place where you can actually work on a project, where you can get your hands dirty, where you can get involved in your car on a physical basis if that’s what you want,” he says. “The idea of Collier Car Clubs is primarily based on the virtuous community, a place where members will give or receive help from other members, supported by professional staff who are dedicated to expediting those activities. The thing that drives the car guy community is not money, it’s the giving and receiving of help.

“It’s built around a project concept. The project doesn’t necessarily have to involve spinning a wrench, though it can.”

Collier doesn’t want people to think of this as solely the domain of the highest of high-end cars. It’s a place where car lovers can collect both cars and ideas. He’d like to walk through and see everything from restored classics to the latest super-cars to old drag racing trucks.

“It’ll be a very heterogeneous community,” he says. “The idea is the sort of cross-silo communication among true car guys. Consider a permanent, resident Cars and Coffee. The thing about Cars and Coffee is that you never know what’s going to show up.”

Once they show up, they can engage in the material world, a pleasure increasingly denied in the world of digital universes and cube farm offices. Even the new car you drive off the lot today isn’t meant to be tinkered with by you; it’s computerized and meant to be taken to the dealership for repairs, which often amounts to replacing whatever’s broken.

“Collier Car Clubs gives you the chance to engage with the physical world in a constrained world that you can master,” Collier says. Trained mechanics will be on-site at a premises that also includes places to work.

“If you want to work on your car, we will have dedicated workspaces,” Collier says. “There will be a couple lifts and community tools, and there will be what we call a project coach.”

There will be seminars and guest speakers. (Collier, would you believe, has a fairly impressive list of industry contacts.) This will be a community where you learn while getting hands dirty.
“Part of the dynamic we see at Collier Car Clubs is members helping members master skills, and professional skill in members mastering skills.”

And while there will be experts on hand, Collier believes the real magic will happen when members of the community cross-pollinate. They’ll keep an eye out for the parts each other need for restoration projects. They’ll get under each other’s hoods. They’ll plan road trips.

“That,” he says, “is how the community grows and builds, and reinforces itself.”

Leave a comment