On the outskirts of central Copenhagen you will find the garage ”The Motor Shop”. That is since 1910 up till today. In a few days it will close and the place will be history.

For 52 years Niels Steen Madsen has run the workshop, having taken over after his father. It has always been about the cars and in the shop you would find all makes and models. Niels’s father took over after his father and in that fashion Niels is now the third generation to run The Motor Shop. Niels’s father was a machine operator and went to The United States at the beginning of the last century to learn more about cars. The car was still in it’s infancy and workshops to service automobiles were virtually unheard of in Denmark which was the exact reason that made the grandfather open The Motor Shop in Denmark in 1910. Hence the name which was a direct inspiration from the States.

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The Motor Shops service van is a Ford A from 1930. It was bought from a coffee importer in 1945 and rebuilt to function as the shop’s service van. It is still used today and is for the time being used as a moving van.

Now Niels is retiring and even though next generation is ready to carry on operations, it will not be in the old warehouse in Copenhagen. The building is facing refurbishing and other tenants will move in afterwards. Niles explains, that the estate will be carefully refurbished and not torn down. Actually. it is said that the facades and garages across from the workshop will be preserved. The faceades will be covered by a new layer of glass shielding because the old facades were not efficient enough at storing the heat. The garages which for the time contain classic cars, will be offered  to small businesses and craftsmen, an intention Niels finds sympathetic.

I ask him, if it isn’t a little sad packing up the workshop, dismantling history in the process? Niels concurs but is also ready to begun a new chapter. The family has bought a farm in rural Sealand which is sufficiently big to start up a new workshop with most of the old inventory. Most of it will make it to the farm whereas the rest will be given to The Old Museum in Aarhus. The museum wants to recreate a workshop from 1927 and they have welcomed Niles tool donations which include work benches and several other tools from the the shop in Copenhagen. I get the sense that Niels is happy that the things will be a part of history in a formal way.

I put my camera on black/white and went about snapping some pictures. The guys were fully at packing the place and the de-souling had begun. It struck me how quickly the atmosphere can change, when the people around no longer “believe” in the place. The ones who have visited the shop before it closed will remember the articulate smell of oil, the sound and not least the spirit on the premises. Now the spirit has evaporated and the things will go to “The Old Museum” in Aarhus. Luckily there is a great chance that the spirit will travel with Niels and his family to his new place.

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1910

1910

1915

1915

1926

1926

1929

1929

1938

1938

1950

1950

2016

2016

Translation: Christian Bartels

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