Emil Frey Classic Cars Museum: Passion on wheels

Emil Frey has created a paradise for classic car enthusiasts.

It may be the sheer technical mastery or the simplicity and beauty of the design, but young and old alike are fascinated by classic cars. These treasures on wheels will always attract admiring glances. Halfway between Zurich and Berne in Safenwil, in the Swiss Canton of Aargau, is a place where lovers of classic cars can have a field day. Inside the stylishly restored former factory building originally designed by architect Armin Meili, Emil Frey Classics AG has created a centre of excellence with everything an automobile enthusiast could desire under one roof: a museum, a highly specialised workshop and a 'car hotel'.

At the entrance, I am immediately greeted by Sir Winston Churchill and his poodle, standing in front of his original Land Rover 86". I move on reverently, passing design icons such as the Jaguar E type, specialities such as the Triumph Dolomite Sprint, rarities such as the Aston Martin DBS Mk III and modern classics such as the Toyota Celica GT4 Turbo. Even ski-legend Bernhard Russi’s famous Subaru 1600 AWD is here amongst these collectors’ items that can be seen together by the public for the first time here. At the heart of the exhibition are the gleaming chrome and paintwork of collectors’ and enthusiasts’ automobiles from the post-war period right up to the eighties, mainly of English and Japanese origin. These historic treasures inspire fascination and passion in visitors – and it was this fascination and passion that inspired Emil Frey to set up his family business over 90 years ago. Albeit with just a modest workshop at first and – can you believe it – a bicycle shop. Over the decades that followed, he and his son Walter built up Emil Frey AG with untiring dedication to become one of the leading companies in the automobile sector. Over the course of those years, they acquired a huge amount of knowledge that, just like their first-class international contacts, is now being used for the benefit of others; because Emil Frey Classics is the only centre worldwide to provide everything for classic cars under one roof. It is true that the museum exhibits are not for sale, but there is a salesroom right next door with collectors’ vehicles from the 1950s to 1970s, carefully selected pre-war vehicles, modern classics and some exotic modern sports cars. In the showroom, I find myself standing under a hydraulic lift making it easy for me to give the objects of my collector’s passion a thorough going over.

If you want to preserve some automobile cultural heritage, you are in the best of hands at the workshop of the Emil Frey Classics family business. Here classic cars from Jaguar and other heritage brands are looked after by an experienced team. Silencers, lamps, leaf springs, body parts and complete rear axles – the specialists in this workshop have an extensive stock of original spare parts at their disposal. Many of these parts are extremely rare, and elsewhere they would have to be specially reproduced, which can sometimes reduce the value of a vehicle. Frey’s experts ensure that your vehicle is kept in outstanding condition. For the Aston Martin and Lagonda brands Frey, together with Roos Engineering Ltd, operates as an established partner, working to the highest possible quality criteria. Of the 13 heritage specialists identified by Aston Martin, Roos Engineering Ltd is the only one in a German-speaking country. After a short 'pit stop' in the coffee bar, I visit the site’s Classic Car Hotel, where you can have your sought-after collectors’ items professionally stored – secure and in optimum conditions. If you need your historic vehicle for a weekend trip, just call a couple of days beforehand. And if required, this service will deliver to St. Tropez or wherever you need it, taking care of all the shipping documents, import and customs formalities and expert reports for the FIVA identity card. Just perfect! And we ought not to forget Frey’s in-house events area – the impressive hall with state-of-the-art technology for up to 500 guests or the Club Lounge under the glass dome on the top floor – and the attractive museum shop where automobile fans, young and old, can get a good deal. Emil Frey Classics is a world unto itself, in the best sense.

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