WONDER WHEELS

by CONNIE DUFNER / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

IF YOU’VE NEVER THOUGHT MUCH about the power of automobiles to change people’s lives, let Ryan Remington make a believer out of you. The 36-year-old, enthusiastic owner of Elliot Remington Auto Studio gets goose bumps when he thinks about one of the cars in his care.

His client’s father, owner of a 1987 Porsche 911, had fallen ill and knew both of his sons wanted the car. He thought the only fair way to resolve who would get it was to hold a coin toss.

The older brother lost. A few years later, the family had another tragedy when the younger brother became terminally ill and died, leaving Remington’s client the car. “It was a way for him to connect to those two guys,” he says. “I’ve had this car in my shop for three years. I love it as much as they do—that story and that connection for the owner.”

By the time Elliot Remington Auto Studio opened in 2017, it had been a dream of Remington’s since 2011, first as a business plan and then as a “let’s do this” mission. In 2014, he moved to Charleston from New York. After three years of fits and starts, Remington at last opened the 6,500-square-foot warehouse, offering climate-controlled storage with pampering definitely included! (The “Elliot” in the company name is the mentor Remington met serendipitously in 2015 amid the hurdles he faced opening the business.) Remington also added auto detailing and preservation to the mix.

The company currently keeps 35 cars in long- and short-term storage year-round, and that number grows to 45 to 50 cars in the summer months. The clientele includes owners who are looking to preserve an exotic or classic vehicle, those who live by the water and want to protect their vehicles from salt air and flooding, those who summer outside the region, and those who live or work downtown where parking is difficult. Customers can relax in a lounge designed by Alexandre Fleuren and let Remington and his staff deliver their cars prepped and ready for a ride. The company also delivers cars off-site as owners request.

Each car is detailed and prepared for storage by adjusting the tire pressure, checking vital fluids and performing an overall visual inspection on the car. Important documents, such as registration and insurance, are uploaded into Remington’s storage software system. The concept ensures the car is ready for the client when the client is ready for the car.

“Trust is huge in this business,” Remington says. “When customers meet me and meet the staff, they see that we care and understand about their cars as much as they do.”

Remington got his start as a small-business owner as a child. He was walking through Sam’s Club with his father and noticed 200-count boxes of Charms Blow Pops for $5. “With my saved-up allowance, I bought five boxes and went through the neighborhood that summer selling them for 25 cents each. With the money, I bought a 13-inch TV and a PlayStation,” he says.

One key to the business’ success is its unique niche. “We’re the first of our kind in the state and probably among a handful of others in the country,” Remington says. “We initially started out with storage, but it makes a lot of sense that once the vehicles are here, we service them.”

Remington is planning to expand the company by moving his facility to a 24,000-square-foot space in Charleston’s Upper Peninsula, where he’ll offer boutique auto sales in addition to storage and detailing. Additional plans call for a membership-based club for rentals of hypercars or exotic cars.

Through it all, Remington never forgets the magical, almost human connection between cars and their owners.

“Jay Leno has stated that we are just caretakers of these vehicles,” he says. “We’re just here to pass them on to the next caretaker. We’re just so fortunate to be involved in some great stories in these cars’ lives.” *

Freelance writer and editor Connie Dufner is a proud Texan transplant living in Washington, D.C. She is a former editor for Modern Luxury Dallas and The Dallas Morning News who has been covering interiors journalism since 2001.