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Hot Rod Buffs Rejoice as Classic Car Club Moves Uptown

By Amy Zimmer | January 12, 2011 7:00am | Updated on January 12, 2011 7:06am

By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

UPPER EAST SIDE — Upper East Siders who yearn to drive a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder or a 2006 Lamborghini Gallard won't have to travel far to pick up the keys as a new car club moves in to the area.

The Classic Car Club, a members-only group that offers users access to top-of-the-line cars like a Ferrari 500 or a Jag roadster without the headache of paying to maintain them, is expanding from its SoHo branch to a second location at 182 E. 73rd St.

The site is tucked between two parking garages on a block full of charming old carriage houses, and a poster in the window displaying one of the many muscle cars available through the club is already beckoning potential drivers.

A Lamborghini, one of the muscle cars that could be up for grabs at the Classic Car Club's new Upper East Side location, sits on a showroom floor in Chicago.
A Lamborghini, one of the muscle cars that could be up for grabs at the Classic Car Club's new Upper East Side location, sits on a showroom floor in Chicago.
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Scott Olson/Getty Images

Members pay at least $8,000 a year in exchange for access to the keys to the cars of their dreams without having to pay for the car's maintenance, insurance or garage. The club, which started in London in 1995 before expanding to other European cities, is eyeing a move into more U.S. cities, including L.A. and Miami, according to its website.

The SoHo branch opened in 2005 with four cars and five members, according to a published interview last month with John Munson, who will be running the uptown location. The club's membership has since grown to include celebrities such as Jay Z, Tracy Morgan and Donna Karen, Munson said.

"We have a lot of members who could afford to easily purchase all of these cars but like the idea of not having the headache," Munson told the socialite website Guest of a Guest. He said he expected the Upper East Side to have an "older gentlemen's British club sort of feel" and attract a "slightly" older crowd than the SoHo location.

"There are certain cars that we're looking to get that we think belong a little bit more on the Upper East Side: an old Jag roadster from 'Cruel Intentions,' an Aston Martin, a Ferrari 550," Munson added.

Munson earned some notoriety of a different sort in July 2009 when he went on the game show, "Jeopardy," wearing an ascot and was introduced as a "gadabout." He also drew his signature for the show to resemble a male sexual organ.

Munson, who did not respond to inquiries from DNAinfo, announced this week that he had met with one prospective new member, David Karp, the founder of the social networking site Tumblr.

Upper East Siders had mixed opinions on the new club coming to their area.

Kelly Eddy, 30, who lives on the block and was getting into an SUV one afternoon last week, said she knew at leat one member of her family would sign up right away.

"I think my husband would be a big fan," Eddy said, "I think it's darling. It's a great idea."

But the club held no appeal for other residents, including an Upper East Side veteran who gave his name only as Andreas.

"I don't have a car in the city. My building charges $700 a month for a regular sized car. For SUVs, it's even more," said Andreas, who said he's lived in the area for 40 years, and adds that he divides time between the apartment and his country home, where he keeps a car.

"You don't need a car here. I get a cab, walk or I take the subway sometimes," he added.

Paolo Rocha, 45, who lives nearby and gave up his car in favor of his three motorcycles, also wasn't sold.

"I'm not the kind of person who enjoys driving something that doesn't belong to me unless it's in a track," Rocha said.

"Not in Manhattan. What is the pleasure of going down Lexington Avenue in traffic?"