It started with an email from fellow BMW 2 and 4 wheel friend Bill. An open house event at a shop in the area and an opportunity for the vintage BMW auto group to get together. A quick check of the calendar revealed that it would be possible to attend, but not certain. Logistics cooperated for a change, and I was able to make the event. Just as important, there was a transaction involving a certain part for a vehicle that could be handled at the event without shipping, as a contingent of the BMW motorcycle crew was attending as well. Fresh off a road trip to Missouri on two wheels, I opted for four and took the 2002 Tii. In addition, this was a DelVal BMWCCA vintage auto event, and there are not a lot of those happening without the efforts of folks like Bill.
The event was not far away at an upholstery shop. I took a route that was completely B roads and had a nice drive through local farm country. The Tii was its usual competent self, feeling sure-footed and good fun over the twisty undulating countryside. Very different from the high speed highway run to North Carolina. The last few miles take you into an industrial park and then to a cul-de-sac and a non-descript building divided in half between two companies. Parked outside the destination were 3 other BMW 2002s, and a 318is. There were also half a dozen BMW motorcycles, a Ural sidecar rig, and a very cool well worn Land Rover. This must be the place.
The real attraction of course, was on the inside. This was Gary Maucher Upholstery, and was no ordinary shop. Once inside, you are not greeted with the typical yards of material strewn about and seats here and there. What you first see is a double decker row of Indian motorcycles on shelving that might otherwise have contained bolts of leather, vinyl, fabrics, and other upholstery material. The first one is the tank shifter bike on which Gary has won his class nationally in WERA this year. Very cool. But wait, there’s more. On both sides of the shop, the first two rows of shelves contain an assortment of vintage motorcycles that the enthusiast would love to have. A Moto Guzzi V7 Le Mans along with an Ambassador, a BMW R90S along with an R1100S, a Norton Manx along with a Commando, a Velocette MSS, a Gilera sidecar outfit, an MV Agusta F4 Senna along with a Ducati MH900E, the list goes on. You get the distinct impression that Gary has assembled what he likes rather than what you “should” collect.
However, as impressive as the motorcycles are, they are not intended to be the main attraction. The main line of work at Gary Maucher Upholstery, is vintage automobiles. And an impressive collection of them was on hand this day. To start with, a Cobra which was in progress. You could see the great work that had already gone into the padded dash, as well as the work remaining. Next to it was an Alfa Romeo Sprint Speciale that was in the process of a full restoration. The dark grey paint was already revealing how great the finished product would be, but it had no interior yet. Moving on, there was a Jaguar E-Type Drop Head. The stunning combination of Dark blue and Camel interior makes any car look good, but the the Jag looked great even while it’s top was not quite finished being fitted. This one will look good top up or top down. Stuck on the end was a red over tan MGA awaiting seats. You just cannot beat a British dash when properly trimmed, and this one was. Last, but certainly not least was a Packard 8 convertible with work underway on a new top. It looked like you could fit the Shelby, the Alfa, or the MGA in the interior if you took out the seats.
The level of craftsmanship on display was fantastic. Over time I have recovered some straight flat mostly hidden parts out of necessity and budget. Seeing his work, I would understand if Gary beat me with a bolt of cloth just on principle. How can such a treasure so nearby be unknown to me? How can a place this cool be hidden in the back of an industrial park? There were bolts of leather, and machine tools, and sewing machines, and all of the other necessary tools to turn out great work, but you can’t help but be distracted by the cars themselves. There was quite a bit of money parked in the shop this day, and I am sure that it must be this way most weeks. If you can get past the distraction of the cars, there are the motorcycles. I honestly don’t know how they get any work done around there, but a lot of discerning clientele are certainly glad that they do.