Ah, the 1990s; the pinnacle of understated car design. It feels like an era of elegantly nonchalant cars from Europe and Japan in retrospect, a time before the Fast and Furious series rotted our collective brains. Clean cars from that era are getting harder to find… yet it seems like a whole bunch of them are hiding at this random abandoned dealership in Ohio.
I’m into urban exploration, vicariously. I do not have the gonads to go into abandoned buildings, illegally or legally, but I love watching that shit. It’s crazy how quickly nature will take things back when humans remove themselves. Those explorations are like peering into a time capsule, a glimpse of what life was when humans decided to abandon that place or thing.
Continental Sports Cars in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, is kind of like that. While watching some videos about abandoned houses, full of belongings and papers just left there, dating the house, I remembered seeing this place. As a car-obsessed kid – rolling past the dealership was a goddamn delicacy. They had Range Rovers, Saabs, Honda Preludes, Lexus SCs, AMG Mercedeses, and M BMWs… all much more interesting than the Ford Econoline my parents drove.
After the better part of a year of driving past that dealership, I noticed that the cars hadn’t moved. Like, at all. Was I crazy? Even as a pre-teen I didn’t know how dealerships worked, but I knew that, you know, that cars were supposed to rotate out eventually. My pre-teen self didn’t really pay it any mind, I just wanted to gawk at the car eye candy.
Eventually, I grew up, and moved away from my hometown, and started a new life in a city two hours away. I mean I haven’t lived in my hometown since 2014, so those cars are likely gone from there, I figured.
Nope. They’re all still sitting there, rotting.
A Google search brought me to this Reddit post on my hometown’s page. No one could find the deal about the dealership, either. Also from Reddit it seems like VinWiki did some investigation a year ago, but it doesn’t look like they had much luck either.
Was it owned by someone? Are these cars abandoned? Why is the dealership even open? Is it really open? County auditor searches didn’t bring back much information about the business, but the dealership is operational, at least according to Google.
With some time to kill, I took a day to check out the ghost dealer.
Sure enough, it’s the same cars I fancied as a kid. The exact same cars. Like, I think the VINs probably are the same. This time, though, these cars aren’t looking so good.
The Range Rovers are now sinking into the pavement, and sun faded. The years of sitting no doubt have made the rubber lines brittle, leaking out the air.
This Land Rover Discovery has a completely collapsed rear suspension. The odometer said the car had done a whopping 42,000 miles.
This S-class was moldy, and there was some rust near the windshield frame.
This Infiniti J30, sent to die, by rusting away in a parking lot.
Small stone-chip damage has turned to severe rust on this ML-class.
The clear coat on this Mitsubishi Galant is nearly entirely gone. Also, the trunk lid is moldy.
These “jellybean” Altimas were notorious for factory paint errors, causing the paint to all out in sheets like this. This one looks like a post-apocalypse movie prop car. Inside, the odometer only showed 53,000 miles.
This Jeep Cherokee was likely a damn nice example when it was put on the lot, whenever that was. It had only done 69,000 miles.
This Lexus SC400’s window had fallen, and its ’90s purpley tint was peeling. I don’t know how long the window had been down, but the inside had seen water more than a few times. This was a nice car back in its heyday – V8 engine, Nakamichi upgraded premium stereo, a real sturdy whip. Yet, it’s sitting here rotting, window open, likely decades old tires completely flat, clearcoat peeling and faded.
The Prelude I wanted as a kid, is still there – being reclaimed by the earth, via rust. This car only had 111,000 miles on it, nothing for a Honda of this era.
Most of the cars stored outside looked pretty bad. There were some gems that at least looked semi-salvageable.
This Audi TT looked good.
These Lexus GSs also looked as if they only needed a wash and wax.
I couldn’t understand why someone would abandon so many enthusiast cars, just leaving them to rot. The Reddit post said there were more good cars in the showroom. Obviously, I had no plans on breaking and entering, but what the hell, I had driven two hours to check this place out, so I figured pressing my face and or camera lens up against the glass can’t hurt.
Inside, there was some pretty high-dollar stuff. Hardtops from vintage Mercedes convertibles. A Ferrari Mondial. An E-Type. A 190SL. A runny-egg 911 convertible, and same-era Boxster. All of them, coated in dust, waiting for a loving owner. As an urban exploration fan, I was fascinated. Peering into this dealership was like walking back in time to 1999. But as a car enthusiast, I was frustrated that so many cars have been sentenced to rot in a lot somewhere in Ohio, instead of appreciated by people who would enjoy them. I don’t get it, y’all. Why abandon these cars?
And I mean… is it abandoned? Google said the dealership was open, only on Saturdays, from 12-2 p.m. Looking around at the grounds, I noticed that the dealership’s asphalt was in good condition, no big cracks, or grass growing out of the cracks. There’s no broken glass, and the dealership building looks as if it’s in good shape. The windows of the building have condensation on them, which told me that at least the heat is on. On the building itself, is a permit for construction from the county, dated early 2019.
I left the dealership to get some lunch, planning to come back after I had eaten. When I returned, I saw two people on the lot – doing grounds maintenance! They didn’t stay long, but they did have access to the showroom. After they left, I took more pics of the vehicles, then hightailed it back home.
On my drive back home, I wondered how long these cars had been parked there. I remember seeing them as a kid, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that those cars likely had been there even before then.
I decided to run the VIN of this E-Class. Once a nice car, now rusty and nearly worthless.
The VIN check showed that this car was purchased from an auction in late 2002, with around 37,000 miles. It is a 1999 E320, so it was only three years old when it made its way to Continental Sports Cars to die. I’d wager that all the other cars on the lot were likely purchased around the same time. So for nearly twenty years, these cars have stayed at this lot.
Now, few if any of these cars would really be worth saving. Sitting outside unprotected in the elements has turned rust issues that would have been minor in 2002, into major problems by 2021. Rubber hoses and seals are all likely shrunken and brittle. Brakes, wheel bearings, some suspension pieces will need to be replaced before any driving takes place. The tires on all of these cars are junk. Some of the cars are moldy inside. The top-end, the valve trains in these engines likely have not seen oil in years. Would they start? Should you even try? How tragic.
I wish I knew more about Continental Sports Cars… we might have to deepen the investigation if enough people find this post interesting. Is it a stubborn old man, unwilling to sell with his now worthless collection? Is it owned by someone deceased, with the cars tied up in some sort of legal red tape? Why had no one filed a nuisance? With the type of cars on the lot, I’m very much surprised that no one has stolen anything although it does seem like someone tried in 2014.
Damn shame. I really want that Audi TT.
Correction 03/11/21: We originally thought that Mercedes was a 300SL but it’s actually a 190SL. The cars look similar but 300SLs have big scoops on the side, among other features, which the 190 lacks. We updated the post, sorry about that!