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River Rides

New York’s Classic Car Club finds a new home at a pier on the Hudson River.

A rendering of the forthcoming Classic Car Club space in New York. (Image: Courtesy +Tom)

“There was nothing left for us in Manhattan,” says Zac Moseley, co-owner of the Classic Car Club (CCC). And so goes the eternal lament of the priced-out New Yorker. But it doesn’t always end with a river crossing.

Moseley is discussing the fortuitous events allowing the CCC, among the most innovative members’ clubs in the city, to remain atop Manhattan schist. Or water, rather.

Founded in 2005, the club—imagine a Soho House for gearheads, with a points-based rental fee system—will inaugurate its new home later this spring, perched over the Hudson River at 35th Street on Pier 76. (Bizarrely, the club’s neighbor on the pier is a city tow pound.) With the rent on its original SoHo space having skipped orbit, Moseley and his partners Michael Prichinello and Phil Kavanagh began prospecting in Brooklyn. They considered moving to Red Hook, which would have been a schlep for your typical Lamborghini enthusiast, but as Moseley says: “We got very, very lucky.”

Heated floors at the new Manhattan space help keep a few million dollars’ worth of rare, finicky vintage and contemporary dream machines ready to run. High casement windows allow western light to flood the main clubhouse area and outdoor patio. Weathered raw wood abounds. The bones were already good, but Moseley and his partners weren’t aiming for an old-timey pastiche of reclaimed boards and bare Edison bulbs. Luckily, architectural guidance was ready at hand.

“I joined back in 2006, when the club had only been open for a year,” says Marc Thorpe, a New York-based architect. Thorpe previously built out the club’s SoHo space, and has helped define CCC’s feel. “We’ve always understood each other from an aesthetic standpoint,” he says of the partners. “There’s a degree of sophistication, mixed with a rather punk, DIY aesthetic. Think of the Philippe Starck machine gun lamp. That gets close to the club’s identity: It’s witty, it’s elegant, but it’s still a goddamn gun.”

To that end, black matte steel beams, warm blond wood, and contemporary furniture help demarcate the space’s various zones.

Greater square footage will free the partners to increase club membership, as well as open up to nonmembers for car maintenance courses and occasional special events. “We’ll be better able to hit that high-low mix,” Moseley says. “We might have chef Andrew Carmellini come in and do a really elegant one-off dinner one night, and then have a remote-control-car drift night with beers the next.”

The concept has proven very portable. Established in London in 1995, CCC tapped a vein of affluent young enthusiasts who wanted the thrills of a Jaguar E-Type minus the headaches and heartbreaks of ownership. Though the New York branch is North America’s sole outpost, it may not be lonely for long.

“When you go to a Soho House, you know there’s continuity, aesthetically,” Thorpe says. “That’s what the club would be going for if they did open up somewhere else.” For the moment, however, nobody knows what a CCC expansion would be called.

One name that the Pier 76 space does evoke, however, is Sandy. The wisdom of parking a McLaren 570S, vintage Porsche 550 Spyder, and Ferrari 458 Spider above the moody Hudson, which surged five feet during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, may seem suspect.

“They have a very good insurance policy,” Thorpe deadpans. “Fortunately, all the furniture would float.”

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