Dream Cruise: Vinsetta Dreams Page 2

August 20, 2001

Vinsetta Garage

In the rear lot, among a couple of VG owner Jack Marvil's own company-labeled Blazers, were both reasonably contemporary and vintage models, the latter including a rough late 70s Caprice, a beautiful rose-hued second series Corvair Corsa coupe, a late 70s Buick Riviera faux convertible, a nice blue '72 Eldo convertible, a worn '86 Chrysler LeBaron convertible, a mostly original black '50 Buick Riviera hardtop and a rough 50s Chevy pickup.

Killing time

Why were the storage lots so packed, especially right at Cruise time when you'd expect the owners would have had them out for, well, cruisin'? "Waiting for parts, money, time or maybe both parts and money," Vicki answered. "Folks get into these cars without realizing how much work they need or how expensive it can be to fix them." Vinsetta charges a $74 hourly labor rate; my Lincoln-Mercury dealer, $68.

If you're wondering why I'm not quoting Jack Marwil, owner of Vinsetta Garage since the early 80s, when he bought it from Mike Kurta, who'd owned and operated it since the 50s, it's because — like a lot of other Woodward merchants this week — he's away on vacation to escape the Dream Cruise turmoil. Smart man!

I can tell you that both Mike and Jack were — and are — partial to GM cars, having gone through GM training schools and at least in Jack's case, having worked as a mechanic, excuse me, service technician, in a GM dealership. Vinsetta Garage to this day is plastered with bowtie, AC, Delco and even vintage United Motors Service signage. Outside, there are the more conventional ASE and Automotive Service Assn. signs. The saving grace for a Ford or Mopar man is the collection of EVERY Michigan license plate since 1910 decorating the tiny office.

Nevertheless, Mike always cheerfully took care of my '54 Ford, '55 Plymouth, '58 Rambler American and '59 Mercury my previous time in the neighborhood. On the other hand, except for VERY special cases, VG wouldn't touch a foreign car. But once, when we were out of town a few years ago and my step-daughter blew out the muffler on her mother's '88Camry, Jack took pity and obligingly handled it for her.

Why is it called Vinsetta Garage? I thought you'd never ask. Vinsetta is the name of the vintage 1916 subdivision — where I live — on the other side of Woodward in Royal Oak. Vinsetta was a combination of the two developer's names. And back in those days, Woodward wasn't the divided eight-lane high-speed parkway it is today. Vinsetta Garage fronted then on a two-way unpaved road, a double interurban electric light-rail line and a double track for the Grand Trunk freight and passenger railroad.

So times do change, but not necessarily Vinsetta Garage.

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