For Donnie Crevier, cars are more than a means of conveyance — they represent a lifestyle, an art form and something to share with the world. And for the past 47 years, that’s exactly what he’s done.
The Laguna Beach resident, long associated with Crevier BMW in Santa Ana, which he ran until 2011, keeps his personal collection of vintage automobiles in a storage facility that has become a de facto car museum and event center in Costa Mesa.
Started in 2006, Crevier Classic Cars features a rotating collection of about 120 vehicles. Some are for sale or lease, while others are being stored and still others come from Crevier’s collection. Formerly located on Clinton Street, Crevier purchased a new and larger property on Airway Avenue and recently secured permits to host events for up to 300 people.
“We’ve worked hard at developing a storage opportunity for people who had cars and no place to put them,” said Crevier, 76. “We store quite a few cars and keep them clean and well run.”
Over time, the list of amenities for people to enjoy while visiting their vehicles expanded to include a lounge area, complete with refreshments, a billiards table, large screen televisions and a growing collection of automobile-themed memorabilia.
“People liked the way the facility looked when we started, and they wanted to have events there,” he recalled. “That ended up bringing our company quite a lot of business.”
Today, Crevier and his team are renovating the Airway Avenue site into an event center that offers a conference room, in-house catering company and amenities packages that help people custom-make magical moments. People can also just come by during business hours and look around.
“The appeal is not just the cars, but the atmosphere inside,” Crevier said. “We have a lot of automobile memorabilia and antique motorcycles. It’s a pretty impressive facility when you walk in and see it.”
Irene Geithner has worked for Crevier Classic Cars for the past three years as director of events and, in that time, has seen interest among local residents and businesses looking to book the site for everything from memorials to bar mitzvahs to work parties grow.
“It’s a venue that offers a lot of things. You’re in a museum of cars,” she said. “And we’re constantly switching out cars, so you never have all the same cars. It can be something new every time.”
Some might think most brides would look askance at celebrating their nuptials in an automotive manner, but Geithner said the number of weddings held at the venue has ramped up in recent years.
“One couple we had were fans of the Grand Prix and wanted to get married at the Grand Prix in Long Beach, but because of COVID-19 restrictions they couldn’t do it,” she recalled. “So, when they saw all the cars here, they went nuts.”
The massive car collection is located behind roll-up doors that, when opened, create an instant wow factor.
Geithner said when Costa Mesa planning commissioners recently visited the site ahead of a public hearing on whether to grant Crevier entitlements for the property, including a conditional use permit to host events for up to 300 guests, they couldn’t help but be taken by the spectacular arrangement.
“They walked in the door, and all I could see was them going straight for the classic cars and asking questions about all the cars,” Geithner recalled. “It’s the same thing with everybody who comes in — it’s just a good experience for them.”
So, perhaps it was no surprise when Crevier and his representatives appeared before the Planning Commission on Nov. 8 that his plan received unanimous approval.
“Having visited it — and wishing I made more money than I do now — I think it’s going to be a great event center,” Commission Chair Byron de Arakal said at the hearing. “In a way, it’s also a little bit of an ambassador that brings people from outside the city in and introduces them to Costa Mesa, so I’m very excited about it.”
Crevier Classic Cars is located at 2995 Airway Ave., Suite B, in Costa Mesa.
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