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Autoweek's Vinsetta Garage premieres Jan. 3 on Velocity Network

Thu, 15 Dec 2011

The garage I'd frequent during my high school years, the one at which I sought insight, entertainment, camaraderie and escape, remains warm in my heart with memories. We have these places, you and I, where the people and things that mattered to us—my 1965 Ford Mustang notchback 289 and my buddy's 1963 Jaguar XKE—came to life.

In Detroit, that mystical location was Vinsetta Garage. The oldest and continuously longest-running garage in Michigan, Vinsetta's neon glistened along legendary Woodward Avenue, welcoming the area's newly minted gentry (and their automobiles) with open arms and open service bays, and it did so for some nine decades. It might be trite, but around the Motor City, Vinsetta grew to earn icon status, remaining strong and true to its calling. Through the years, however, time and effort changed, and earlier this year, the owner wanted out to start a new life.

Enter Autoweek's KC Crain, who passed the Vinsetta Garage daily on his commute. To see a For Sale sign on the building pained him; to think that it could be razed for another strip mall sickened him. So KC rescued Vinsetta with the notion of keeping it as it is on the outside but turning it into a studio that would host the TV show we'd recently contracted to create with the car-guy-centric Velocity Network.

The show, which we hope you'll take time to watch starting on Jan. 3—it will air on Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. Eastern with subsequent airings throughout the week—is not a behave-badly slapstick effort. Our idea is to tell stories well with the unequalled access that Autoweek has earned during its more than 50 years, in a way you might not have thought about before. To do that is effort well spent and, we think, effort well rewarded.

Without giving away everything about the show's first episode, titled “Passion,” it engages three of the Detroit Three automakers' youngest and most powerful movers and shakers—all of whom are unquestionable members of the car clan. Right now, they are guiding the success of our new American automotive business, whose recent turmoil and anguish is well-documented. This feature is warm and touching in spots (and cheerleading in others), but by the end of this segment, we hope you get a sense that Detroit is in great hands.

We also hope this show is something you'll want to watch and share with your significant other, because, after all, they are all stories well told.

Needless to say, Vinsetta Garage was too small to repurpose into a state-of-art studio, yet it looms enormous with car people. So this was KC's idea: If it can't be a place to fix cars, can it remain a gathering place to talk about the lore of the car tribe—you know, a kind of automotive Chautauqua? Could it be a place where stories are told and shared, where history is handed down from generation to generation? And what if, just by chance, while you're telling those stories, you could get a world-class burger, pizza or some mac and cheese?

So, instead of a garage to repair and replenish cars, the Vinsetta Garage will now be a restaurant—manned by an award-winning chef—to replenish and repair hungry travelers. Stories will be told there, and ideas for TV shows will be fomented there as well. It will be a think tank, a wayside rest stop and a car-guy gathering place, and it is integral to our TV show.

We hope you will enjoy all that Autoweek's Vinsetta Garage has to offer. Check out the site for more details.

By Dutch Mandel