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KevinH
02-17-2006, 05:10 PM
Very strange discovery today...

A friend's VW Jetta sustained some damage a few weeks ago when he ran over a piece of a tire. His insurance company is paying the repairs and a body shop picked the car up at his home. It was ready today so I took him to the shop to pick it up. Niether of us had been to this shop in Stockbridge, GA (south of Atlanta).

We pull up to the place and I immediately thought we were in the wrong location. The shop sat at the end of a large suburban subdivision. The only business that wouldn't look out of place sitting at the end of a narrow, mailbox-lined 25mph street would have been a day care. But there it was.

We went into the main office, which looked like a corporate headquarters. I tell my friend that we've GOT to be in the wrong place but he goes in to check. He comes out looking confused. Getting back in the car, he says that the shop is next door and that the building we were in was full of driving simulators. He asked what they did there and the receptionist said it's "not for public knowledge." Strange. We head to the entrance gate for the shop.

The body shop was about 140,000 square feet and sat in the middle of what had to be a 20 acre freshly paved parking lot. That's when I noticed the really strange stuff.

The entire lot was surrounded by a steel security barrier. I'm not talking about a chain-link fence, this was a louvered wall made of thick steel plates about 8 feet high. The entrance had a manned guard station with security cameras pointing every where. there were cones in the middle of the entrance so no one would accidentally drive over the tire spikes which protected both the entrance and exit.

The guard came out and asked our business. My friend told him we were there to pick up a car. He asked his full name, checked his list, asked MY full name, and asked us to wait while he went into the shack.

While we sat there, I peered into the lot which I could now see since we were a bit forward of the steel wall. Inside I saw rows and rows of cars. Maybe 200 or more. I saw a BMW X5...and an 06 3series...and a 7series...WTF? The lot was FULL of nothing but BMWs. In the row closest to us, there were three M3 convertables surrounded by loads of other Bimmers. Bimmers as far as the eye could see.

The guard returned to the gate wrote down our license plate number AND VIN number. He tells us to follow the cones. A path of orange cones led through the lot, past the rows of BMWs, and to the shop.

The manager took care of everything for my friend and told us a little about the place. It's some kind of detailing and auction lot where dealers can purchase cars. Inside was an auditorium with stadium seating each equipped with a computer to view the entire detailing process for every car up for auction.

Very strange place. On the way out, I joked with the guard that I was smuggling out an M3. He laughed and said "don't make me shoot you." I don't doubt he would have.

avalys
02-17-2006, 05:37 PM
manheimdrive.com

The place looks and sounds like something out of a bad action movie.

SARAFIL
02-17-2006, 05:41 PM
Very strange discovery today...

A friend's VW Jetta sustained some damage a few weeks ago when he ran over a piece of a tire. His insurance company is paying the repairs and a body shop picked the car up at his home. It was ready today so I took him to the shop to pick it up. Niether of us had been to this shop in Stockbridge, GA (south of Atlanta).

We pull up to the place and I immediately thought we were in the wrong location. The shop sat at the end of a large suburban subdivision. The only business that wouldn't look out of place sitting at the end of a narrow, mailbox-lined 25mph street would have been a day care. But there it was.

We went into the main office, which looked like a corporate headquarters. I tell my friend that we've GOT to be in the wrong place but he goes in to check. He comes out looking confused. Getting back in the car, he says that the shop is next door and that the building we were in was full of driving simulators. He asked what they did there and the receptionist said it's "not for public knowledge." Strange. We head to the entrance gate for the shop.

The body shop was about 140,000 square feet and sat in the middle of what had to be a 20 acre freshly paved parking lot. That's when I noticed the really strange stuff.

The entire lot was surrounded by a steel security barrier. I'm not talking about a chain-link fence, this was a louvered wall made of thick steel plates about 8 feet high. The entrance had a manned guard station with security cameras pointing every where. there were cones in the middle of the entrance so no one would accidentally drive over the tire spikes which protected both the entrance and exit.

The guard came out and asked our business. My friend told him we were there to pick up a car. He asked his full name, checked his list, asked MY full name, and asked us to wait while he went into the shack.

While we sat there, I peered into the lot which I could now see since we were a bit forward of the steel wall. Inside I saw rows and rows of cars. Maybe 200 or more. I saw a BMW X5...and an 06 3series...and a 7series...WTF? The lot was FULL of nothing but BMWs. In the row closest to us, there were three M3 convertables surrounded by loads of other Bimmers. Bimmers as far as the eye could see.

The guard returned to the gate wrote down our license plate number AND VIN number. He tells us to follow the cones. A path of orange cones led through the lot, past the rows of BMWs, and to the shop.

The manager took care of everything for my friend and told us a little about the place. It's some kind of detailing and auction lot where dealers can purchase cars. Inside was an auditorium with stadium seating each equipped with a computer to view the entire detailing process for every car up for auction.

Very strange place. On the way out, I joked with the guard that I was smuggling out an M3. He laughed and said "don't make me shoot you." I don't doubt he would have.


I'm surprised they did that... it's not really a secret place. It's called the Manheim "Drive Center". Manheim is one of the larger (largest) automobile auction firms in the US with locations across the country. The article below tells a bit about the Drive Center and what it does.

http://www.coxenterprises.com/corp/presscenter/viewPressRelease.asp?articleid=570

KevinH
02-17-2006, 05:45 PM
Well crap. That kinda removes the mystique seeing as I could have freakin' Google'd 'em. I thought it was some kind of top secret Alias SD-6 sorta place and that the subdivision was a complete facade to hide the location from enemy agents looking to infiltrate the top secret facility...which also repairs VW's. ;)

It was pretty cool to see a few hundred Bimmers lined up like that though.