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There aren’t a whole lot of Audi dealers in the United States with a longer history than Autohaus. The family owned Lancaster, PA based Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche dealer was one of the first set up in the Volkswagen network, with the founder having come over from Germany in order to help establish these German brands back when they were fledglings. This week, the dealership celebrated the grand (re)opening of its original building, expanded and significantly remodeled to house its Audi showroom.
Our own history with Autohaus goes back much further than this website. Back in the 80s and early 90s and well before the internet, the dealership was the place where we’d check out then new models like the B3 Coupe quattro, Porsche 964 and Volkswagen Corrado. We’ve bought several cars from this dealership over the years, and their facility has worked on our early project cars like our B6 A4 Avant and 4000 S quattro. This store holds a significant place in the birth of our own enthusiasm, so it was with great interest that we RSVPed to attend the event.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a grand opening without a few star cars. Front and center were Audi of America’s R18 TDI racecar in Sebring livery and also the Sport quattro from Audi USA’s vintage collection. The latter even still wears the rally car livery used in the filming of a recent A4 commercial in which it starred.
Unique to Autohaus itself is what the dealer principal Tom Wanner calls “the collection”. Below the facility’s Volkswagen showroom is a mix of vintage vehicles that could be called a “museum”, though Wanner doesn’t think the word suits because a museum might suggest the cars are simply displayed. These are driven.
The “collection” has grown over the years. Early entries such as a former Dustin Hoffman owned Karmann Ghia and Formula Vee racer sit beside cars like Porsche 911s and a Volkswagen Caddy that was owned by Tom’s dad who founded the dealership. More recently added to the collection is an incredibly pristine Audi Fox sedan. One of the earliest models offered by Audi of America, this car was sold new by the dealership and still wears its original “Autohaus” dealership sticker.
Also on hand was our own Audi allroad, subject of our Project B85 allroad series. That car, having been fitted with any number of new upgrades ahead of last week’s Waterfest event, was displayed next to the Audi showroom.
Immediately obvious at the event is the family atmosphere whether it be the extended Wanner family who came out for the event, the store’s employees and also longtime customers. Lancaster, the Pennsylvania city with strong Germanic roots that the dealership calls home, is small enough that Autohaus manages to maintain an intimate relationship with many of its customers that keeps them highly engaged, resulting in a surprisingly strong showing amongst locals.
One local member of the customer family attending the event was none other than Lamar Patterson of the Atlanta Hawks. Patterson may be spending his professional time down in Georgia nowadays, but he finds time to return and recently purchased his new Audi S7 at the dealership in his home town.
With the opening of this updated facility, Autohaus completes a major investment that sees separation of the three brands it sells. Where once Audi Coupe quattros, Porsche 964s and Volkswagen Corrados shared a single showroom, Audi and Volkswagen are now partitioned in an even more expanded space. A third dedicated Porsche showroom has been erected at the other end of the property, making more of a campus like feel to this now very modern space complete with expansive showroom, clean fresh sales offices and long white tables equipped with power outlets and USB charging stations for waiting customers who may prefer to to pass the time here amongst the latest Audi models versus the equally new and expanded customer waiting room.
While completely refreshed, we’re happy to see Autohaus hasn’t lost the family theme. Yes, it fits the modern model preferred by any brand whereby stand alone dealerships are the proven model, but you can still easily wander around and enjoy the extensive family tree be it familiar faces of staff or those other Volkswagen Group brands that call the facility home.