Westport’s newest, most novel concept — a private members club/classic car storage spot/event space — hides in plain sight.
You pass it every day. You have no idea it’s there.
Too bad. You’re missing something very cool.
Autostrada opened, softly but smoothly, in January. Since then it’s hosted a few private parties (most recently, a gathering for Land Rover enthusiasts).
Its 10,000 square feet are filling slowly with rare Porsches, Ferraris and Alfa Romeos.
Members gather for coffee, conversation, or just to lounge on very comfortable furniture with like-minded collectors, a few steps from both a full bar and those beloved automobiles.
It all happens at the former Steinway showroom, between Fire Department headquarters and the Connecticut Humane Society, on the curve just before Compo Shopping Center.
Gioel Molinari and his wife Ronni have lovingly created a unique venture. He’s a tech entrepreneur; she’s an architect. They’ve lived in Westport for 10 years. Very quietly — right under our noses — they’ve designed a multi-functional space that combines his passions for cars, food and beverages, and her stunning eye for design.
The idea — a place for collectors to store their automobiles and gather casually, while doubling as a special spot for benefits, social and corporate events — took root several years ago.
The project was delayed twice: first when the original partners dropped out, then by COVID and supply chain issues — but the gut renovation of the piano showroom is worth the wait.
The gleaming car storage area, with a capacity of 22, offers 24-hour access (and a lift/detailing/ washing area).
A catering kitchen serves as a staging area for On the Marc, the highly regarded group that works exclusively with Autostrada. The same team is on hand for every event.
Private functions range from a few people in the lounge only, to up to 150 people with dancing on the vintage automobile floor.
“Most car storage spaces feel like a garage. Or they’re in a less than desirable area,” Gioel (pronounced “Joel”) says. “This is a place you feel very comfortable coming to. It’s like sitting in your living room, with your car, relaxing and talking to your friends about your passions.”
“Comfortable” is an understatement. Ronni’s welcoming lighting, glass doors and specially designed floor complement the “mid-century flair, modern Milan lounge” feel of the furnishings.
“You feel at home, but you’re transported beyond Fairfield County,” she says. “There are masculine details, but it’s not a man cave. It appeals to anyone who appreciates beautiful spaces.”
Those people do not have to own vintage or rare automobiles. Social memberships are available too.
There are 40 or so members right now. Autostrada may go to 75, but not beyond.
Members enjoy weekly happy hours. Coffee is available weekdays. Monthly special events focus on different themes, like food, wine, bourbon or barbecue.
Autostrada means “highway” in Italian. Gioel was born in New Haven, but grew up in Milan.
“The Post Road” sounds less glamorous than “Autostrada.” And traffic sure does not flow smoothly past Westport’s Autostrada.
But Gioel and Ronni Molinari have created something new, unique and special, hidden in the heart of their adopted hometown.
Sounds like a need is being filled with an original (I think) concept.
Wonder if they’d store the occasional AMERICAN classic; or would thst be to lo brow?????????
absolutely! we have a lovely 1967 C2 Corvette
That would be DEIGN not dain
Did Dan ask how much a membership costs? I suppose if you have to ask, then…
I certainly would not like to store my classic car in a “less than desirable area!”
do the math: 10,000 sq, ft, @$40 + $10cam + $5 expenses = $550K basic annual expense divided by 22 cars = 25K per parking spot per year. ++++++
need lotsa members and plenty of parties!!!
Or, Peter, where you could dress up real nice, sip a daiquiri and lie to the couple next to you about your car……what and evening!
Pretty much the ultimate display of privilege in a world of deprivation and exclusion. I wonder how many members have ever spent a day at a school in Bridgeport.
Who cares if they have or haven’t? This conjecture is pointless.
Something so beautiful and unique for social and unification to those who want to share their passions and celebrations with others. I’m sure there is opportunity for many fundraisers to help those who are deprived and in need.
Larry – many of us in the classic car world work damn hard to keep these analog mechanical pieces of history on the road for all to see and enjoy. The only ‘privilege’ I have is scraped-up bloody knuckles, grease under my fingernails, and a sore back from doing mechanic’s yoga. And yes, I have spent plenty of time volunteering and helping out in marginalized communities, as well as taking my car to shows which are fundraisers for those in need. Your comment is ignorant. Do better.
Good point, “A. Brown.” I’m sure most real enthusiasts have done at least some work on their cars and many have worked hard to get and maintain them
And driven there, Larry, in their Porsche Carrera.
Pretty much the ultimate display of ignorance and closed mindedness
How about you arrange a day trip from the Bridgeport school so the deprived and underprivileged can participate?
Well said Larry Weisman.
Is that a 1967 Volvo 122 Amazon behind them in the first photo?
What a cool concept! I’ve seen numerous posts on 06880 commenting about commercial vacancies on the Post Road in Westport. Here a local couple has followed their passion and created a unique business, filling and beautifying a space on Route 1. In particular, it’s a business that can’t be displaced by the Amazons of the world. Congrats to the Molinaris!
Why does Westport have to ‘worry’ about filling vacancy spaces on the Post Road? Why is it that I’ve read comments, in the past, about the large numbers of signs indicating buildings for lease? Wasn’t that number over 30? It seems like I’ve been reading about vacant property problems for years.
Actually I went to the ultimate “car show” in March 2002. I was in Havana, Cuba and I took a lot of pictures of cars. (And yes I went legally and got my passport stamped.)
Have the owners thought about “partner opportunities” with Maserati of Westport just a tad down the road……just a random thought…..beautiful space.