More from the 2001 Woodward Dream Cruise
Right at the epicenter of the Woodward Dream Cruise sits one of Motor City's most historic automotive buildings, the Vinsetta Garage. It's a peculiar blend of old and new in more ways than one.
The parallelogram-shaped one-story brick building boasts huge twin tent-shaped skylights — like those of early auto factories — over the service bays with their modern floor lifts, chain hoists, exhaust vents, pull-down air, electrical and fluid lines and the traditional wall coverings of different-sized fan belts.
Located on the west side of Woodward in the city of Berkley, just short of midway between Eleven Mile Road and Twelve Mile Road, Vinsetta Garage has been in business maintaining and repairing cars at that spot since 1919 — 82 years.
You're probably wondering, what's so special about that — such places abound in America, especially in small towns. One big difference is that right now, Vinsetta looks more like a holding tank for the Cruise than a vintage repair emporium.
Bridging then and now, Yoostabees' experience as a customer of Vinsetta Garage dates back to 1959, a mere 42 years. But that's nothing. When I stopped by the VG office early in Dream Cruise Week, a prototypical "little old lady" — no tennis shoes but she was sweet and white-haired — came in to have the oil changed in her 60K '85 Olds. I asked her how long she'd been a customer — "Why, all my life," she responded, "My Dad brought his car here in the Twenties." Office manager Vicki arranged for one of the four mechanics to give her a ride home, only a few blocks away in Royal Oak.
Shortly another customer was on the phone, with a head gasket problem in his '93 Taurus. Vicki and a mechanic debated about when they could handle it, seeing as how they were virtually buried under repair orders. "Tell him next Wednesday" — nine days away — "if he gets it in before eight. Otherwise Thursday."
Getting right to the present, heck, you don't have to wait for the Dream Cruise to view the golden oldies, as long as you don't want to watch them move. Just visit Vinsetta Garage, a veritable car museum with occasional changing exhibits.
Here's a sampling of the car park inventory:
In the bays, a good-looking black-on-black '69 Cadillac convertible, an early 90s Caprice and a fairly recent Ford pickup (must have been out of warranty).
In front, a red two-place Thunderbird, a little rough — like a cracked driver's window — but mostly yummy; a 50s International three-ton dump truck, and a mixture of 90s cars, trucks, vans and SUVS, no doubt waiting for regular customers to retrieve them at the end of the day, service completed.