How Do Dealers Get Cars Into Their Showrooms?

Red Audi car inside a car dealership showroom view from the rear

When you’re in a dealership, mall, or museum, you might find a number of cars inside the building. The strange thing is that there’s no road inside of the building, so how did the car get there? I can confidently say that the cars aren’t Transformers, and they were driven into position. In this quick guide, I’ll answer your question and let you know what’s going on.

Cars are driven into the showroom through an entranceway that’s disguised as something else. There will be a section of a wall somewhere that can be slid, rolled up, or opened. In some cases, the double doors pedestrians use to enter the building are large enough for a car to drive through when they’re propped open.

What Am I Talking About?

When you go to a car dealership in person, you’ll notice a number of very shiny cars scattered around the office. As you’re sitting and negotiating with the salesperson like a pro, you could be right next to a brand-new sports car.

I’m here to tell you how the car got there. Most of the time, the room has doors for people to use but nothing big enough for cars to drive into. Since a big garage door would be an eyesore, these businesses hide the entrances for cars.

How Do Dealers Get Cars into Their Showrooms?

Cars get into a dealer’s showroom in a few different ways. It depends on how the building is set up, how old the building is, and who was in charge of making plans for the building.

Secret Sliding Door

In a lot of cases, there is a secret rollaway door. It’s as large as a garage door, but it’s on wheels and track-rollers at the top of the door.

Porsche 911 Turbo S car at a dealership showroom with the sliding door visible

If you look around the dealership, you’ll probably be able to spot it. It won’t look identical to the other windows or doors in the area, but the difference is subtle.

When the dealership is ready to bring in a new car, they’ll grab this section and slide it open. Once opened, there’s a large hole that’s big enough for a car to drive through.

Hidden Garage Door

The dealership might use a hidden garage door, instead. The concept is the exact same as the secret sliding door, but the mechanism is different.

Instead of sliding side-to-side, this door will open just like a traditional garage door. They’re a little easier to spot since you can look at the roof and find the tracks for the door’s rollers. In addition, the wall will have horizontal breaks to allow the wall to fold up a little bit as it opens.

Double Doors and Bravery

Another common way to get cars in and out is through the double doors. This is arguably the easiest way to hide the car’s entrance.

A lot of dealerships have double doors for people to walk through. Did you notice that these doors are typically pretty big? They’re also commonly positioned near a paved road, near a break in the curb, and on a flat section.

Car facing the double door exit of a car dealership showroom

These doors are actually oversized. When both are opened and held, there’s enough clearance for a car to be driven through.

It still takes a brave driver to squeeze a freshly polished, expensive car into the small opening.

How The Process Works

To get a new car into the showroom, the car’s entrance needs to be opened first. Whether it’s a sliding door, garage door, or double door, it needs to be fully opened before anything can happen.

From there, the car will be grabbed from the detailing shop, parking lot, or nearby facility. It gets driven to the dealership, then it drives onto the curb. From there, it will be driven through the opening and put in position.

A lot of times, it’s a manager doing the driving. That way, if anything goes wrong it’s on the boss’ shoulders, not a rookie salesperson. From what I’ve heard, there are also a number of spotters who are checking on walls, doors, and corners to make sure the car will clear as it’s driven through.

Getting The Car Out Is The Hard Part

Everyone that I’ve talked to about this has said the same thing: getting the car out is the hard part.

It makes sense — think about how many obstacles there are. Not only are there desks, beams, and walls in the way, but there are also other cars. The dealership needs to do some shuffling first to get other showroom cars out of the way. Only then can they remove the car.

Cars lined up inside a car dealership showroom aerial view

This is typically done when inventory changes, a new model is available, or the dealership wants to promote a different car. Outside of these conditions, they’ll keep the same cars in the same spots since that’s the easiest thing to do.

What About Showrooms On The Second Floor?

The big caveat to the secret entrances I just listed is that the showroom needs to be on ground level. What about a showroom that’s on the second floor or is raised from the ground level? I’ve been in plenty of showrooms that have parking under the showroom or have a staircase leading into the front door.

Even if you don’t know anything about cars, you know that they don’t go up flights of stairs, so what’s the secret?

A Car Elevator Somewhere

I’ve never personally seen a car elevator run, but I’ve seen enough videos to get excited about it. Under the showroom, there’s a massive elevator somewhere. Someone with the right permission needs to open it up, then the car gets driven in.

Car dealership with multiple stories using elevator with cars on all showroom floors in Wolfsburg, Germany

The elevator will go up as many levels as it needs to, then open up and let the car drive onto the showroom.

This isn’t the same elevator that a pedestrian would use to get to the showroom. They’re much larger and reinforced with concrete throughout.

A Removable Ramp

A removable ramp is a more common way to get cars into this elevated showroom. In this case, the dealership will still have a secret garage, sliding wall, or a large set of double doors. This is how the car physically gets into the showroom.

To get the car to the right level, the dealer will use a large ramp and position it in front of the building’s car entranceway. From there, it’s just a matter of driving the car up the ramp and through the entrance.

A Crane Is Used

If there’s no room for a ramp or elevator, the dealership might use a crane. This is the least common way to get a car to the second floor, but sometimes there’s no other way.

Car being lifted by a crane in the air either boarding a ship or a car dealership showroom

The car gets strapped into the car and raised to the correct level. The dealership opens up the hidden garage door or sliding door and the car is put in position. Once removed from the crane, a floor manager drives the car into the showroom and parks it.

Are Mall Showrooms The Same?

Another place you might be surprised to find a car is in the middle of your local mall. There are always different companies promoting a raffle or a different way to win the car you’re looking at.

Sometimes, the car is really far away from the nearest door, and you might wonder how it’s done.

Since malls aren’t built to store and sell cars, it’s a little trickier. If the car owner is lucky, the mall has a sliding wall at one of its entrances. Otherwise, they’ll need to squeeze through the double doors as I explained earlier.

Two Porsche cars inside the mall for show

From there, the driver needs to navigate through the mall in order to park the car in its promotional spot. Seeing a car drive through the mall is surreal, to say the least. It’s usually done at night so there aren’t customers in the way.

When it comes to cars in the mall, they aren’t driven by mall staff. They’re driven by the company providing the car, that way the liability doesn’t fall on the mall.

Some Common Myths Debunked

I talked to a few friends about how they think cars into showrooms or malls, and I’ve heard some outlandish ideas. In fact, a lot of these ideas are floating all over the internet, so I want to take a second to debunk some of these myths.

  • The cars are not disassembled and reassembled. This is one of the more common myths I hear. Cars aren’t easy to take apart into little sections that can be carried into the showroom. Actually doing this would take so much time and there are huge risks of the car not working once it’s reassembled.
  • Walls are not taken apart and put back together. A more believable option is a wall that can be deconstructed and then put back together after the car is in position. In this case, it would be too heavy and take too much time. Some dealerships might have cars cycling through the showroom every day or so, so this wouldn’t be a viable option.
  • The cars aren’t carried. The other myth I heard that actually made me laugh is the idea of people carrying the car to the showroom. A Honda Civic weighs about 3,000 pounds, so it would take dozens of people to comfortably carry in a car.

Conclusion

The next time you see a car in a showroom, you won’t be so bewildered — they’re driven through an entrance that’s hidden in plain sight. If you want more of your car questions answered, take a look at the rest of my blog. I also have a list of car products that might make your life a little easier.

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Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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