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Rancho Santa Fe man’s extra space turns into perfect spot for collector cars

‘In nine months, we went from zero to 85 cars,’ said Charles Butler of his Rancho Santa Fe Motor Club and Storage.
‘In nine months, we went from zero to 85 cars,’ said Charles Butler of his Rancho Santa Fe Motor Club and Storage.
(Photo by Xavier Bailey Photography)

When longtime Rancho Santa Fe resident Charles Butler found himself with 28,000 extra square feet that had long gone un-rented next to his American Faucet and Coatings Corp. building off Palomar Airport Road, he wanted to find a creative solution for what to do with it.

He didn’t want to open up another business with a lot of employees. He toyed with storing boats or motor homes there before landing on the idea of luxury garaging for collector cars as Rancho Santa Fe Motor Club and Storage.

With the niche business catering to the automobile lifestyle, Butler wasn’t exactly sure what he was going to get, but interest built as soon as Rancho Santa Fe Motor Club rolled up the garage doors on April 6, 2014.

“In nine months, we went from zero to 85 cars,” said Butler, who has lived in Rancho Santa Fe since 1986.

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The garage has a state-of-the-art, sophisticated security system — it is fenced and gated with codes to enter the lobby and into the storage area.

“I did an overbuild on security,” Butler admits, pulling up an app that members can load into their phones that allows them to see live footage of all corners of the club, thanks to a multitude of security cameras. From anywhere in the world, members can zoom in to check on their cars 24 hours a day.

Many people told him he didn’t need that much security, but Butler disagreed. He wants to do everything he can to protect his customers’ cars, and to ensure these kinds of cars are preserved so they will be around for future generations to admire — such as a ’57 T-bird or the beautiful Rolls Royce kept in storage.

The club’s lobby was renovated into a cozy lounge for members to visit whenever they want with couches, flat-screen TV, a conference room and even a bar. Collectible car art is on the walls (and for sale) as well as a collection of classic hood ornaments. Music plays over the sound system and a window looks out onto the storage floor.

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Butler has even put special thought into the floor — grinding, resealing and polishing the concrete and keeping it looking glossy, like a showroom floor.

“It will come up to a high luster,” Butler said.

RSF Motor Club is home to several award-winning cars, such as a Lincoln that once belonged to both President Ronald Reagan when he was California governor and to actor Steve McQueen.

While most people love to have their cars seen, Butler also offers private storage space for members who don’t wish their collection to be on public view.

RSF Motor Club is not a car dealer, but Butler’s company is willing to help make deals happen with privacy and security.

“We can act as a bridge between collectors,” Butler said. “No one knows who the owner is or who the buyer is until the price is met.”

As a bonus, he employs Robert Johnson as an auto curator who has more than 17 years’ experience, including working with Jim Wangers, considered the “godfather” of the Pontiac GTO. Butler said Johnson has been to many car shows and events across the nation and has had the privilege to meet very influential individuals throughout the automobile industry; his expertise is invaluable to RSF Motor Club members.

While members can bring friends to the club whenever they wish, the floor space can also be rented out for events. Last year, the club played host to a successful black-tie boxing event and a pre-Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance bash, with specialty show cars brought in for the event.

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To serve his customers more fully, Butler is working on building an exclusive card lounge in the back of the facility, outfitted for members to enjoy a card game, smoke cigars and associate with other collectors.

To learn more about the luxury garage, visit rsfmotorclub.com.

Business spotlights are developed through this newspaper’s advertising department in support of our advertisers.


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