Gassed up, revving to go

Published 8:16 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Off the Water photo/AARON MUELLER Marc Milhander, foreground, owner of the Kar Club Inc., and club member Scott Williams show off a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro in the Kar Club’s showroom, which offers 6,700-square-feet of space for displays.

It’s still one of the best kept secrets in downtown Niles.

But it won’t be for long.

The Kar Club Inc., which opened on the second floor of the Greater Michiana Healing Arts Center building at 109 North Third St. in June, has had plenty of exposure at its car shows this past summer.

But Marc Milhander, owner of the Kar Club, said the dealership is still in the process of being discovered by Michiana.

Last weekend’s Hunter Ice Festival was a great way to introduce the community to the 6,700-square-foot showroom.

The Kar Club hosted the Relay for Life bake sale and the festival’s chili cook-off.

“At the ice festival, 450 people came up,” Milhander said, “and basically said, ‘wow, I didn’t know this was here.’”

In addition to buying and selling pre-owned cars and motorcycles, the Kar Club offers winter storage for motorcycles.

The dealership sponsored several car shows, dubbed as “Bring It! Cruise-Ins,” last summer.

The September show drew 110 classic, sports and muscle cars and 15 motorcycles to North Third Street.

“There are a lot of people in the area that will come to these events who enjoy showing off their interesting rides,” Milhander said.

The city recently approved for the Kar Club to hold 12 more cruise-ins next summer.

They will take place 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. each Wednesday Memorial Day through  Labor Day.

Curing winter blues

Classic and sports car enthusiasts tend to go into hibernation in the winter, but Milhander said he is hoping to wake them up with the “Gearhead Breakfast Series” at the Kar Club.

The monthly winter get-togethers are a chance to talk cars and share upcoming projects.

“The companionship and fellowship with other enthusiasts is great. It’s really fun,” said Milhander, explaining he was unsure of what the response would be to the breakfast series but based on “surprising” turnouts, he has formed an organized club.

The Bring It! Super Car Club offers members discounts on Kar Club vehicles, a monthly newsletter and inclusion of their vehicles on the dealership’s registry, among other perks.

So far, there are 24 members, but Milhander expects more once the cruise-ins gear up in the summer.

There are also a handful of members who are working on a club project, fixing up a 1969 Corvette Stingray race car.

Gearhead community

With a 70-inch television with surround sound, comfortable seating and a pool table on the way, Milhander also envisions the Kar Club as a community hangout.The showroom and “Gearhead Lounge” are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.