A massive warehouse that once produced airplanes for McDonnell Douglas and Boeing is now filled with another classic vehicle: Mercedes.

The German automaker’s Mercedes-Benz Classic center on North Lakewood Blvd. in Long Beach was built to “wow” owners and enthusiasts alike.

Housed in part of the 1 million-square-foot warehouse, the 61,500-square-foot facility includes 41,500 square feet of workspace and another 20,000 square feet for vehicle storage, auto restoration and maintenance. A showroom displays classic cars from the 1950s and 1960s.

The operation, which opened in March 2022, moved last year from its previous 27,600-square-foot location in Irvine. The Southern California facility is one of only two Mercedes-Benz Classic centers in the world. The other is in Germany.

“We opened the Irvine facility in 2006, but just outgrew it,” said Mike Kunz, who manages the Long Beach center.

Staffed by 22 employees, the new center has seen a steady demand for vehicle restoration among owners of classic Mercedes-Benz vehicles, he said. The center’s storage area houses about 40 vehicles, while some of the vintage cars in the showroom are for sale.

“Some are privately owned and others are owned by our corporation,” he said.

The Mercedes-Benz Classic center in Long Beach has a pristine, yet industrial vibe that allows the company to showcase vintage vehicles. (Photo courtesy of RMA Photography, Inc.)

The remainder of the 1 million-square-foot building is used as a holding area for Mercedes-Benz vehicles that arrive at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach before being shipped to area dealerships.

The center is open to the public seven days a week.

Hendy, an interior architecture and design firm based in Newport Beach, created the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, working with Mercedes over five months to craft a space that’s party history, part practical.  

“It’s really a building within a building,” said Carolina Weidler, project lead and Hendy’s co-chief executive. “Designing the U.S.-based home for the heritage arm of a global luxury automotive company is a huge responsibility.”

The center includes areas where upholsterers can stitch leather seats, painters can color-match historic hues and metal workers can fashion parts that no longer exist — even for a classic 1950s model 300 SL. (Photo courtesy of RMA Photography, Inc.)

The building’s trendy industrial design, she said, required meticulous attention to detail.

The workspace includes modern service bays equipped with the latest technology and hydraulic lifts, as well as a shop area equipped to restore and service classic Mercedes-Benz vehicles, ranging from the 1950s to models from the 1970s and 1980s.

The center also includes areas where upholsterers can stitch leather seats, painters can color-match historic hues and metal workers can fashion parts that no longer exist — even for a classic 1950s model 300 SL.

“These people take these cars apart piece by piece, bolt by bolt and clean and fix them,” Weidler said. “There is a lot of attention to detail, and we had to take that into account. And the storage area had to be flexible. They may only get five cars one month — but the next month it might be triple that.”

The center’s showroom features floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the space with natural light and are punctuated by LED light fixtures to better showcase the vehicles.

“The architects and designers at Hendy embraced the planning and execution needed to reflect our brand’s signature look and feel, while also designing a highly technical and highly functional environment that is part repair center, part Hall of Fame,” Kunz said. “It immediately immerses people into a signature Mercedes-Benz brand experience.”

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