Abandoned Edinburgh 'Robot Car Park' classics mystery solved
As an explanation arises for the eight derelict classics discovered 15 years on, a fire has destroyed at least one car
Remember the mystery of Edinburgh’s abandoned robot car park vehicles? AutoClassics believe the cryptic tale involving eight neglected cars – including a Fiat Uno, Austin Maestro and Volvo 440 – has been solved, despite images surfacing on social media of a fire engulfing at least one of the automobiles. You can read the original report here.
On the morning of February 7 at 11.09am, fire crews were scrambled to Edinburgh’s derelict ‘robot car park’ on Morrison Street, after concerned locals contacted the emergency services before taking to social media sharing pictures of the inferno.
Smoke could be seen across the Edinburgh skyline, billowing out of the partly disassembled structure, with witnesses reporting that at least one car was ablaze.
‘Operations Control mobilised two appliances to Morrison Street, where firefighters extinguished the fire,’ a spokesman explained. ‘There were no casualties.’
Fire crews left the scene at 12.23pm, having ensured that the area was safe and the structure wasn’t compromised. The Fiat Uno which caught alight is now deemed well beyond repair, its fate as scrap now all but officially confirmed. The condition of the accompanying Maestro and fellow vehicles has not yet been declared.
Demolition firm GCM Services claimed that ‘every effort would be made to save the vehicles’. The mystery origins of the vehicles now enjoying classic status appears to have been cracked.
A former employee has stated that the eight vehicles – at the time considered largely worthless and apparently lifted out ofa local scrapyard near Leith docks – were brought in as test mules for the then-new system back in 2001.
‘I worked there when it closed, those cars were bought to test the system.’
Hundreds of interested parties put their theories forward, after Reddit user ieya404 uploaded pictures of the trapped Fiat Uno and Austin Maestro onto the popular forum, just as the facility underwent development works last month.
The parent company, SkyParks Edinburgh, fell into receivership during 2003 shutting the automated facility down after less than two operational years. Rumours and urban legend circulated that administrators had left dozens of vehicles imprisoned within the walls.
However, after the revelation from a previous employee explaining that the vehicles were not ‘abandoned’, and rather bought in to ensure the system worked without damaging client’s vehicles, it appears as though the eight cars had been in various states of decay before entering the automated car parking operation.
Once considered Britain’s most technologically advanced car park, the grounds and infrastructure will now play host to a new £30m purpose-built office block, under the guidance of Hermes Real Estate.
The extraction of the remaining vehicles, and the burnt-out shell of the Fiat Uno, is yet to be witnessed. GCM Services was unavailable for comment, despite discussed plans for AutoClassics to rescue at least one of the previously abandoned vehicles. Should they all hold a certificate of destruction, they will never be allowed back on the road.
Some may sneer at the status of these particular brands and models, but with so few left on Britain’s roads, AutoClassics feel that heritage from the 1980s and 1990s must be preserved.
Check back with AutoClassics for further updates as and when they happen.
You can view The Scotsman's photo gallery of the car park in operation with this retro showcase from 2001.
Images courtesy of James Erwin, Callum Burns, Norbert Swizzle and Reddit user ieya404