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Hidden treasure: Meilenwerk Berlin a low-key look at the past

Fri, 14 May 2010

Standing on Wiebestrasse in suburban Berlin, you'll see an unassuming warehouse. But inside is a unique complex for owners and buyers of classic cars. Branding itself as a forum for car culture, the Meilenwerk has under one roof private storage facilities, restoration workshops, servicing facilities and dealers.

It is open without charge for visitors daily. There are no ropes or barriers, just a few discreet "Do Not Touch" signs. The number and variety of cars is simply staggering

Car are stacked in glass cases or just parked in lines inside the huge building. Upon entering I saw a genuine 427 Cobra parked behind an MGB. A magnificent early 3-liter Bentley was parked in a row that also contained some humble Volkswagens, an ultra rare and gorgeous Graber-bodied Alvis TD 21 and a Checker Aerobus.

Wandering around, I came upon a pair of fearsome Gumpert Apollos and a couple of Bugatti EB 110s. A Porsche tractor stands near a Chrysler Imperial.

Being Germany, there are plenty of Mercedes and BMW cars, but a surprising number of Rolls-Royces are also represented.

On the day I visited the place was utterly deserted, the only sound being the muffled noise of engines running in the workshops--the rattle of a VW Karmann Ghia competing with the rumble of a 1960 Corvette.

A 500K Mercedes sits in a dealer's showroom. Private storage is no less impressive with several 300SL Gullwings, a rare Chapron-bodied DS 23 convertible and a Ferrari Enzo. Most of the cars looked like they are driven regularly.

Outside in the yard sits a restored body for a Jaguar Mk IX, a military spec Land Rover, and a beautifully restored car from the earliest days of the automobile that I could not identify--it would appear to be from about 1895-1900.

This complex is a popular starting point for classic car rallies and meetings, so any enthusiast visiting Germany can check the Web upcoming events, although the Web site is available in German only.

The complex is about 5 minutes from downtown Berlin and includes a restaurant. There are also branches in Stuttgart and Dusseldorf.

It's simply the best car bargain in Germany.

Ronan McGrath is a contributor to AutoWeek.

By Ronan McGrath