Last month in South Florida, Art Basel Miami Beach and the Concours Club exhibited rolling pieces of automotive art in glass cases. But the vehicles on display were parked in much more than spiffy boxes—they sat within a new product from Cartainers, a tech-focused, customizable solution for the storage, transport, and display of collector cars.
The roots of Cartainers trace back to when Covid shut down cofounder Zach Jenkins’ commercial film projects, which included working with Ferrari in 2019. Tinkering with design ideas, he envisioned a modern shipping container with temperature and humidity control, as well as top-tier security within an aesthetically pleasing presentation. But challenges arose immediately, since cutting into a standard shipping container’s corrugated-metal walls could compromise its durability and strength.
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“For our initial prototypes, we removed the sides and we were looking at recycling shipping containers,” Jenkins says. “The problem is, even with reinforcement steel added, there’s still torsion. So we went back to the drawing board, and designed and custom-engineered a 20-foot shipping-container chassis with the intent of having as much glass, or polycarbonate in some instances, for maximum visibility of whatever’s inside.”
Jenkins recognizes that many car collectors value privacy, so optional metal cladding can simultaneously keep out prying eyes while further bolstering vehicle safety during transportation. The initial Ceres 001 Founders Edition model also allows for up to 72 hours of video surveillance or, like a Ring doorbell, can begin recording video whenever it detects motion.
The custom frame and requisite batteries presented the Cartainers team with new considerations for international shipping regulations, so the boxes currently qualify as top-of-stack only—which may well be a plus for most buyers. But a standard unit still weighs a surprisingly light 5,500 pounds, meaning that most rollback trucks can handle one packed with a G-Wagen or a similarly hefty SUV. And svelte cars like a Ferrari 250 GTO or Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing certainly shouldn’t be an issue.
“You can put it on a container ship, you can put it on a train,” Jenkins says. “From the recreational user up to a large importer-exporter who’s moving a lot of vehicles, we’ve tried to design a system that is as easily transportable as possible.”
Most importantly, driving straight into a Ceres 001 significantly reduces the risk of damaging often low-riding sports cars. And the interior allows for all four doors to be opened, enabling the driver to step out without dinging anything or potentially tearing upholstery while climbing through a window.
Cartainers offers a variety of methods to strap cars in, including e-tracks and airplane tie-downs. Then, the entire box can be lifted up once the vehicle is secure. A smartphone app controls the temperature and humidity, as well as the doors, lighting, and security systems. And using an optional SIM card allows for global GPS and cellular transmission of security footage.
“It has facial recognition, so it’s very Batman when you walk into a dark warehouse and approach it . . . and it just lights up and opens up for you,” says Jenkins, who also mentions that there are a host “of modular features that are already on our product development roadmap,” as well as the possibility of built-in hydraulics that can lift the entire unit up and allow another vehicle to park beneath, or even a potential race-day hauler complete with a roof deck and awnings.
Cartainers will make an appearance at Amelia Island in March, and likely Monterey Car Week in August. Available to order now, the innovative storage and display system is expected to begin deliveries late this year or early next, with pricing that starts in the low $40,000 range for a basic model—with polycarbonate and no tech features—then escalates up towards six figures for the fully optioned version. The Ceres 001 Founders Edition will be limited to 50 examples, each priced at $60,000.
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