Who goes out on a cold weeknight to watch a movie in a warehouse just off I-405 in Kirkland — and not a premiere, but a 15-year-old movie they've seen before?
Some pretty revved car nuts ... er, enthusiasts.
They come alone and in pairs, ducking into the dimmed hideaway of Club Auto Kirkland and settling into sofas and chairs to watch the movie of the month on a big screen while immersed in their element: classic cars and memorabilia.
"This is one of the nicest clubs anywhere," says moviegoer Dave Smith while scanning his surroundings. There's a kitchen, a lounge and a showroom of 20 classic cars in paint-perfect condition, including Packards, Porsches, Thunderbirds and Ferraris. They are members' vintage vehicles, valued from $30,000 to more than $1 million, and they're roadworthy to boot.
Movie Night is this Thursday
Formula 1 racing is the theme for the club's next Movie Night, to be held from 6-9 p.m. Thursday. Before the documentary "1: Life on the Limit," Joe Justice of Wikispeed will display the Lynnwood company's 109-mpg SGT01 prototype (shown), and clips of Formula 1's greatest moments will air. Admission is $7 for non-members. Club Auto Kirkland is at 11200 Kirkland Way, Kirkland. For reservations, email email@example.com. For more information, visit lemaymuseum.org (search "movie night").
"These are old rolling pieces of artwork — mobile sculpture," Smith muses. He wears a silver figure of "The Saint" car pinned on his black leather jacket, showing off his allegiance to the white 1967 Volvo P1800 he drives, just like Roger Moore did in the '60s TV series.
During Movie Night, a monthly showing of some of the greatest car movies of all time, all sorts of car fans dropped in one November evening. The event is open to the public. A retired married couple enjoyed a glass of wine; a young dad and his inquisitive 11-year-old daughter munched on cookies; and two buddies in leather jackets opted for beer and popcorn.
They watched "Ronin," a 1998 thriller packed with chase scenes and actor Robert De Niro racing in a Peugeot 406. The audience also included a real-life world-class auto racer: Dominic Dobson, whose career included racing in the Indianapolis 500, Le Mans and NASCAR.
Now the chief development officer of LeMay — America's Car Museum, Dobson oversees fundraising, membership and Club Auto activities such as Movie Night.
"The combination of social club and hangar for these cars is unique," Dobson says of Club Auto Kirkland, which LeMay founded three years ago. "There's really no other place like it."
Dobson's right-hand man at the club is Warren Lubow, Club Auto Kirkland's development consultant. "I'm a car enthusiast; always have been," says Lubow. "[I've] been racing and restoring cars since I was 14."
"I just love being around cars and car people. Car people are good people," he says. "It's great to hear their story about how they found a car and how they're restoring it."
Club members get 24/7 access to the club and its amenities, including car-care products from Griot's Garage, based in Tacoma. Annual membership is $1,200, plus $200 a month for car storage.
Brian Henry is not a club member, but he lives in the neighborhood and likes taking his daughter to Movie Night.
"I come whenever Dad comes here," Maya says. "I like seeing the really old cars, especially the muscle cars."
Toward the end of the movie, Lubow greeted a tall young man who had just walked in. They took a walk around the club, and then the man left.
"We just got a new member," Lubow says. "A '57 Chevy Bel Air."
Then he whispered in the dark: "Sweet!"