13 February 2007

Your Second Home: the Garage

Our 2006 Hobby Survey results are in – and most of the more than 10,000 respondents (current owners of collector vehicles) claim that the garage is where the heart is. And we’re not talking a garage with a four-door sedan and a minivan inside, tools hanging all over, bikes on walls and other toys strewn about. We’re talking the garage of garages – your palace.

From the survey, 61.8 percent of respondents say that at least sometimes they spend quality time in their garage even when they’re not actively working on cars. Most garage-dwellers are set up with heat, a refrigerator and a sound system. It’s no wonder so many of them like to be in the garage; it’s like a second home.

Notably, more than half of those surveyed (53.9 percent) maintain they work on their own collector cars for the enjoyment of it and to experience “hands on” fun and satisfaction. Now, most would probably tell you that they grew up around cars, hung out in the garage and “wrenched” on cars with their fathers, brothers and likely, some friends. How many of us remember the first time we took apart an engine, replaced it, and had friends or family nearby either helping or looking over us with a watchful eye?

What’s Inside?
Nowadays, garages have killer epoxy flooring, radiant heating systems, hi-tech sound systems, refrigerators and even beverage stations, and more “bays” than many shops and oil change places – not to mention massive tool collections and cabinets to hold tools and equipment. With specialty trick items like automatic car lifts and parts washing areas, you can add neon lighting, a vintage gas station sign or pump – anything customized to your unique tastes. It’s not your grandparents’ garage, a resting place for the cars at night and with perhaps a second freezer for bulk frozen foods. No, this, friend, is a whole new garage.

Jay Leno boasts his mansion-size “Big Dog” garage at his own website (www.jaylenosgarage.com). At 17,000 sq. ft., with a quarter of that space just for the machine shop, and a gourmet kitchen where Jay actually cooks for guests, the website states the garage can hold a dozen cars being worked on. Of course, he’s got a team of mechanics working on all cars! Jay is only one of many who are showing their wares. Many personal websites and magazines feature fantastic, one-of-a-kind garages.

Catalogs for adding to the garage include www.griotsgarage.com, www.bustedknucklegarage.com, www.jcwhitney.com – the list is endless. A thorough web search should give you what you’re looking for. As well, published catalogs are sent from most of these companies.

How Do I Build One?
You can find information on garages just about anywhere these days. Television channel SPEED has a special program surrounding the garage mentality. Check out Dream Car Garage on Mondays at 9 and 9:30 p.m. EST. Just like cooking shows offer a kitchen as the stage, these are typically car guys/gals hanging out in a garage, working on cars – and having a blast doing it. And we can’t forget Discovery’s Monster Garage (2002-2006), featuring tough guy Jesse James as master builder. No, it wasn’t about garages, but the one he used was pretty sweet.

Books and websites abound on the subject of garages. Garage (Kira Obolensky, The Taunton Press) and Ultimate Garages (Phil Berg, Motorbooks International) are just a couple to read. Also, visit www.ultimategarage.com, Rust-oleum Outdoor Inspiration and Phil Berg's Ultimate Garages for some really cool photos of out-of-this-world car homes.

If you want to build a bigger, better garage, there are a few websites to visit from our quick search: Hometime How-To Build a Garage and www.doityourself.com/scat/garages. There are also garage kits, how-to articles on adding components yourself, and remodeling and organizing your home away from home.

If you are really into garages, want to share tips and photos of yours, or want to begin building your own palace, Hagerty has started something new online on: Gunner’s Great Garages. This monthly column will feature garages from none other than you, our collector friends. So check it out each month for some good ideas!

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