Carvault – a spa for your car

What do you do when you own a harem of hot classics but you’re short on a chateau to house them? You check in at Carvault.

When you want to preserve your finer vintages, you build a wine cellar. Romeo y Julieta cigars are kept in a humidor to prevent drying out, and chances are your better watches and pieces of jewellery are locked away in a safe to keep them out of reach of the terminally light-fingered. But what do you do if you’re a well-heeled petrolhead in Cape Town with more cars than garage space, or whose regular comings and goings in the Mother City leave you unable to lavish on your classic or performance-car darlings the attention they demand? You check them into a hotel – of sorts.

‘We have a client who only has space at home for a family car, so he keeps his Porsche GT4 here. He takes it out a couple of times a month,’ says Carvault operations manager Cindi Harding. ‘We also have a businessman who lives and works in Johannesburg but wants to ride his classic convertible on those frequent occasions he comes to Cape Town.’ Clients have round-the-clock access to their vehicles. ‘And, of course, we cater to the “swallows” … those foreigners who spend the summer months in the Western Cape before returning to their British or European homes for the rest of the year. It’s cheaper and a lot more fun to buy and store a local runabout.’ Carvault also offers an airport collection and drop-off service.

Carvault is a high-roofed warehouse on the slopes of Devil’s Peak with space for nearly 100 cars. It’s not yet full (having only opened late last year and with word still going round) but the multimillion-rand collection of cars already includes Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Bentley, Jaguar, BMW, Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce. There’s even – and if you know your cars, you’ll drool – a Noble M400 supercar.

The atmosphere is hushed and respectful, with vehicles lined neatly side-by-side like sarcophagi in a mausoleum. However, there are not that many tombs in this world (of which I am aware) that are draped with bright yellow dust covers or have trickle chargers plugged into them to facilitate their occupants’ resurrection.

Calling Carvault an automotive ‘lock-up-and-go’ might be technically accurate but it suggests internment and, although the facility boasts state-of-the-art security, it is more of a spa for your car, with all the concern, cleansing and care that implies. Like people, the more exotic (or vintage, for that matter) the car, the greater the amount of TLC required. And no, what’s good for the 1958 Mercedes-Benz SL 190 roadster goose is not necessarily as good for a 21st-century Aston Martin gander. Every vehicle undergoes a comprehensive multi-point assessment on check-in before being taken to the adjacent wash bay for a full valet. For those owners who feel their vehicles deserve even more TLC, Carvault offers a complete detailing service under the critical gaze of master detailer Mark Bruce. This service encompasses deodorising and disinfection, leather treatments and upholstering, paint surface touch-ups or upgrades, and applying protective coatings. Additional detailing options include an engine clean and degrease, and a ‘showroom’ treatment.

The typical storage package features assessment and registration on arrival, wash and detail prior to storage, trickle charging, vehicle start every 10 days, and a monthly detail, which also ensures the vehicle is moved, reducing mechanical and tyre stress. Apart from electronic security, the premises are protected by an armed response service. The standard storage package costs less than half of a student studio in Rondebosch would, with discounts applicable if five or more cars are stored.

It’s temporary adoption with full custody for the parent.

By Jim Freeman, Private Edition, Issue 35

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