On a quiet block in Brooklyn, in between a yoga studio and a daycare, sits Auto Baby Sitters, a nearly 100-year-old parking garage. You’d be forgiven for walking by it without so much as a second thought, but inside this crumbling three-story structure lurks a car stash so vast and varied it’s almost unbelievable.
Now, the building’s pending demolition has brought the collection to light. Earlier this month we shared photos of a pair of 1950s Cadillacs, a Pontiac Fiero, a Jeep Grand Wagoneer, and a couple other old cars that were hauled out to the curb after decades in the darkness. You can't fake those layers of dust and grime, and the questions piled up. Why were they stashed away? What happened to the owner? Where are those cars headed? And mostly, what else is hiding in that garage?
Last week, I was allowed inside the garage by its exceedingly nice owner to bring you the answers. As you can imagine, it's an incredible tale.
Yves Saint Louis is a round-faced man with bright eyes, a warm smile, and a belly laugh. He says he’s in his seventies, but he looks about 45. He started working at Auto Baby Sitters as an assistant manager over 40 years ago when he was just 28. Eventually, he acquired the business and property, which his sons Chris and William now manage day to day. “When I started [working here], it was a storage business,” he told The Drive. He explained that the 400-spot garage catered to travelers going abroad and other people looking to store cars long-term.
The garage wasn’t that busy at first, and with a huge footprint to spread out, Yves began acquiring classic cars. “Some I bought elsewhere and brought here. Some I acquired through circumstance,” he said. All in all, he estimates he owns between 70 and 80 antiques, maybe more. Occasionally, clients abandoned their cars in the garage, stopped paying their monthly bills, and disappeared. Chris claims he and his father always tried to work with customers, providing terms and opportunities to get back on track. But that wasn’t always easy if clients weren’t reachable or made it clear they didn’t want their cars back.
Within the last decade or so of Brooklyn’s gentrification, the garage grew fuller. Auto Baby Sitters expanded its hours and began offering daily parking for commuters. The collection started getting in the way of business, and some of the vintage cars were moved to damper, less structurally sound parts of the building’s basement not suitable for everyday access. Chris pointed to the garage’s excellent Yelp and Google ratings—an anomaly for a parking business—as a point of pride. It’s indicative of the type of customer service his family provided over the years.
But with the increased traffic came faster degradation. Water, salt, and slush brought in off the street weakened the concrete floors, and a May 2023 note from the garage’s pre-construction testing noted “excessive running cracks on the walls, going across the slabs, beams and girders,” and “sections of the ceilings that are loose and with large amounts of concrete missing and exposed reinforced steel in various areas.” Rising real estate values meant the 92-year-old building had outlived its usefulness as a garage, and developers had already filed a February 2023 permit for “full demolition” to make way for a 79-unit apartment building.
“You’re not going to get murdered, I promise,” Chris said as we ascended the main ramp to the garage’s second story. It was nearing dusk, and light filtered in through holes where windows were recently removed in prep for demolition. As we reached the landing and round the corner, I spotted a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia half-covered by a tarp—behind it, a red Triumph Spitfire and a ‘64 Cadillac. But we’re just getting started. Behind the Cadillac sat an Austin Princess limousine, a tan-on-tan ‘49 Chevy convertible, and a Plymouth of similar vintage. A coffee-colored late-’70s Ford pickup and a Datsun 280ZX rounded out the treasures on this floor, though there were at least a dozen more pedestrian vehicles scattered around. It’s overwhelming, and I took refuge in the office before continuing the tour.
Chris was called to help a customer, so Yves showed me around the ground floor himself. We passed another ‘59 Cadillac, this one a desirable convertible model in baby blue. A ‘49 Packard, a sixties Rover, and a pile of blankets covering what I’m told is a ‘55 Chevy line the back wall. There were too many other cars to list. Then, we came to the most eclectic grouping imaginable. A one-year-only Bricklin SV-1 faced a grimy AP1 Honda S2000, which in turn blocked in an early longhood Porsche 911 (a ‘68 Targa, I’m told), a VW Microbus, and another W108 Mercedes. Wedged behind the grouping was a seriously cool ‘50s Ford box truck. I asked about the 911, and Yves laughed and said, “That’s my daughter’s car. You’d have to ask her about selling it.”
Finally, it was time to visit the basement. “You might not like what you see down here,” Chris warned as we descended the ramp into darkness, flashlight in hand. “It wasn’t always this bad.” The smell of standing water hit me immediately. Chris explained that the demo crews had removed part of the roof and had been drilling holes in the floor, but water had been coming in for far longer than that. This seems to have been the European wing, with two BMW 2002s, an E21, and two Triumph TR6s lining part of a wall next to a Fox-body Mustang. More VWs, including a Type 3 Fastback, filled a nearby corner. Opposite them, a Porsche 924 Turbo and what was left of another early 911 sat among a navy fleet of Lincoln Continentals, with the 911 perched precariously atop one of the land yachts. An early Corvair and C3 Corvette represented GM, and a Jaguar Mark X with a lovely red leather interior and manual transmission was the resting spot for a couch.
Some cars in the basement are beyond repair—a blue W114 Mercedes is completely rotten, with a light blue VW Bug and a green BMW 2002 not far behind it. Just looking at the Rambler’s hood made me grateful for my tetanus shot. Others are surprisingly clean—a yellow-and-black Ford Model A roadster, a sixties Plymouth Barracuda, and the Jag look promising. The cars on the ground and second floors have fared better as they’ve been spared the worst of the water intrusion. Many are on jacks, either to avoid the water or to free wheels in preparation for their exodus.
Chris said all the cars need to be out of the building by the end of September so that the structure can be razed. The family has a second warehouse and has been working tirelessly to relocate them, but there’s a long way to go on a tight timeline. As for a longer-term plan, Yves and Chris would like to restore some of the cars for use as picture cars, possibly with the help of a network or studio. The ones that are too far gone could become parts donors or be sold off.
But for now, they’re focused on the present reality of wrapping up a decades-long business and pulling dozens of classics out of the cavernous garage’s depths. It’s an arduous process that involves freeing stuck wheels and rusted brakes and getting cars that don’t run or stop up and down ramps. “I never intended to keep all of these cars in perfect condition,” Yves told me. “I held on to them because they represent art [to me], and that the future value might reflect that.” Regardless of these cars’ ultimate fate, I wish the team luck in extracting and saving whatever they can.
Got a tip? Send us a note: firstname.lastname@example.org