Have you ever wondered if they made a type of car? Well. Volunteering at the Lane is a continual exercise in“What is that???”.
My journey started somewhere in July when I went to see Torch talk about the Fun Cars. I had been to the museum once or twice before, but being there in this special event just ignited something. My friend talked to Rex(one of the Education Coordinators) about him volunteering but I didn’t think I had the time. Fast forward a month and I saw Rex comment on an article under the Lanes Kinja Account. I made a quick “We met a the Lane and I would love to volunteer” comment and he responded, here is my email, let get this going.
It took me a few weeks to get in there as I was traveling and getting organized but one day I decided to pop in there and get the paperwork done. Thus my journey began.
The first part of your day is walking in and signing in. It behooves you as the more hours you accumulate, the more trusted you are. After 6 hours, you earn free membership for a year. After 12, they let you drive cars as needed. Not a bad deal.
After signing in there are a few tasks for the volunteers. One of the biggest is just walking around and keeping an eye on guests. Not in a creepy way but more in the making sure people don’t do dumb stuff. While this may seem ridiculous, the amount of people that touch the cars is unbelievable. Families with children and adults are equally uncaring. There are dozens of one off cars in there, many of which have years of restorations done , and someone not paying attention will scratch the paint, chip it, or get in the car without regard for the vehicle. The single most touched car below.
The second tasks we may do is dust the vehicles. We usually use a California Duster to knock dirt and grime off of the cars. The Lane is actually housed in an old bread factory, and much of the gunk is still on the ceiling. When the train passes by this gunk will fall on the cars. While it does not harm the paint, it just looks like the car is dirty and the California Dusters help that. The cars that seem to attract the most gunk are the Honda N-One, Toyota Century(on loan), and Nissan GT-R LM Nismo. I believe this happens because they are all fairly shiny(of course), and have long flat surfaces where it does not just fall to the ground.
One of my favorite things to do is teaching people about the cars. After numerous hours of exploring and learning, I have picked up on some things that are not on the placards displayed by the cars. Some facts like, the Davis upstairs is #9/16 made and that the museum just acquired #1, the prototype. Other facts like the Century, although it is a very, very large car, is most comfortable for those under 5'10". Any bigger and the head room is non existent. I also can open doors and hoods for those people very interested.
And then there are the basement tours. Every employee at the Lane has different tastes in cars, has different favorites, and talks about different cars out of the over 350+ in the basement. Learning tidbits here and there is a great pleasure as we caboose(follow and make sure they don’t slip and and die on oil) the crowds that span from 5-25ish people. Cars that often get pointed out include the MG Metro 6R4, 2CV Skinny, Vanden Plas Princess(with the Rolls Royce generator engine), the coal coal powered Citroen Berline 11 Gazogene and the BMW 320(1/17 known surviving).
The other things that are cool include attending the Volunteer Drive Days-
Being able to post these -
As a car guy I know I am truly luck to be around all these vehicles, and then get rewards for doing so is even better. As you can tell tell there are endless cars here. Nearly 550 and counting. This is what leads to so many “What is that???” moments. Every time you turn around there is something new. Cars are purchased randomly, moved out of the shadows, and sometimes just appear right in front of your face, where they have been for years. It never gets old.
Thanks for your time all and please feel free to ask any questions you may have.