From the June 2017 issue
My garage stinks. Not literally, since I moved the trash can outside, but in the sense that it’s thoroughly mediocre. It’s neither obsessively neat nor rustically cluttered. There’s no theme. It is not a place you’d want to hang out. Most of the floor space is dominated by the Bronco and the GEM, the rest devoted to tools, spare parts, and kids’ toys. The other day I discovered a bird’s nest, so at least someone’s spending time out there.
I once had a vision of an exquisitely orderly space, walls of memorabilia surrounding gleaming machinery. Indeed, soon after we moved in, I bought a framed Lincoln Versailles poster at a yard sale and hung it on the wall. I imagined it as a kitschy counterpoint to all the cool stuff I’d soon have out there. Five years later, the walls are covered not with signed Dan Gurney photos but with grubby yard tools, shelves of seasonal decorations, and layers of yellow pine pollen. And a Lincoln Versailles poster.
I don’t normally spend much time dwelling on my garage inferiority, but every so often I encounter a kick-ass example of outstanding garage-itude that makes me want to rush home and right the wrongs I’ve inflicted on my two-car den of despair. This happened recently when I stopped to examine what I thought was a Fiat Jolly parked outside a metal industrial building.
I was driving the new Lexus LC500, the most concept-looking production car I’ve seen in a long while. The LC gave me confidence to drive onto the fenced property and ogle the microcar—which turned out to be a Subaru 360 with a ragtop—because the LC projects a bravado that asks, “Would you brandish a shotgun at a trespasser whose car contains ever so much Alcantara?” To paraphrase Will Smith in “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” would a lunatic drive a Lexus like this? Indeed, after I was there only a few minutes, the Subaru’s owner strolled outside, introduced himself as Billy, and offered a tour.
At this Tata bar, there is no cover or drink minimum. Still no touching.
As it turned out, the metal building, an aircraft hangar, was normally filled with cars, but Billy had moved most of them out so he could have a Mardi Gras party. A bar bedecked with purple tinsel dominated the center of the room, with a smaller bar off to the side made from the front end of a Tata truck. There was a slot machine and a few of those patio heaters you see at fancy restaurants. You know you have a big garage when you use outdoor heaters inside.
Around back, Billy showed me more of his cars, including a Mercury lead sled with a 426 Hemi under the hood. Then he popped open a car transporter to reveal, of all things, a Lexus SC400, the grandpappy of the LC500 parked out front. “I bought it for my wife new in 1992,” he said. I didn’t figure Billy for a Lexus guy, but then, it’s probably hard to draw conclusions about anyone who owns a lead sled, a two-stroke Subaru, and a bar made out of an Indian truck.
We walked around front, where some of Billy’s friends were examining the LC. They, too, were serious car guys. One of them builds rat rods, and another showed me photos of the Jaguar E-type into which he’s stuffing a supercharged V-8 out of an S-type R. I was fully jealous. I wanted to be Billy’s friend. Or at least have a garage that isn’t a budding Superfund site.
I know what kind of changes I need to make, based on many covetous observations over the years. First, your garage should not be at your house. Jay Leno’s garage is not at his house (and it’s also not really a garage, but Jay Leno’s Multi-Building Automotive Appreciation Compound is kind of wordy). Adam Carolla’s garage is not at his house. And Billy, I’m assuming, does not live at the airport. No, the two-car room attached to your house should merely be an overnight spot for the car you drove home from your garage.
Your ideal garage needs a high ceiling, for lifts. You want couches, a fridge, and maybe even a bathroom. And you want cool cars, but not so many that the space is choked with them. Even one cool car is enough, really. You see, if you park your Cavalier Z24 next to a Corvette in a two-car garage, it’s just a strange two-car garage. But park the Cavvie by itself in the middle of the room and it’s suddenly much more interesting, because you’re making the statement that it should be interesting. Go to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and you’ll see what I’m talking about. They don’t have Sunflowers crammed in between a carbon-fiber clock and a poster of Catherine Bach. I may have just revealed two other things that I want for my garage.
Procuring an off-site car palace may not be practical any time soon, but I suppose I could at least start improving what I’ve got. Anybody know where I can get the front end off a Tata?“”