I love my garage. No, I love any garage. That’s because, until I bought my first house at age 26, I never had one. And unless you’ve been a garageless gearhead, you will never fully appreciate having four solid walls, a roof, and a roll-up door inside which you can keep your precious projects. As a teenager, I worked on my back in a gravel driveway. Straight dirt would’ve been less pokey on the back, but with all the rain and snow we got, it would’ve turned into a mud bog. Stuff that takes more than one day to wrap up? Better bring that project inside the house, or it’ll get all dirty and rusty. My brother built a small-block Chevy with iron heads for his Camaro in our mom’s basement. We didn’t really think about how to get it out until it was all assembled. Too bad cell phone video cameras weren’t invented yet, or we could’ve recorded the hilarity of bringing it up the stairs and into the driveway for posterity.
There’s a certain badge of honor that goes with being the neighborhood’s mechanical pariah
My first real garage was a single-car unit in a townhouse with communal rules and regulations. I ignored nearly all of them, which resulted in a slew of fines and pink warning notices tacked on my front door. I hung them on the fridge like they were report cards with A+s. There’s a certain badge of honor that goes with being the neighborhood’s mechanical pariah. I bought the biggest 110-volt Craftsman air compressor the store had and was so excited to use it for a project first thing the next morning, and I did the 20-minute break in at 10:00pm. The neighbors didn’t appreciate the roar of a 5.5hp motor going full bore at that time of the night—or so the citation on my front door the next morning said. Neither did they appreciate the cam swap I did on my Dodge’s 318 in the driveway. Or the open-header cam break-in procedure a couple days later. I thought the engine sounded really sweet rolling between 2,000-2,500 rpm for 30 minutes. What do they know? The coup de grâce was when I completely disassembled a ’53 Willys inside that garage and then started cutting 1⁄8-inch plate to box the frame with a saber saw. The For Sale sign soon followed.
My second garage was a two-car unit in a detached house with no homeowner’s regulations. Free at last! It seemed monstrously spacious, so, like a dummy, I parked the non-running Willys in one of the bays, thereby relegating myself back to a one-car garage. I did many projects in there, from a Ford 9-inch build, Klune-V Underdrive rebuild, NP205 mods, and even a Toyota 22RE engine swap. Mounting beadlocks, lift installs, and even my first welding station followed. Other than a steep, sloping driveway, I was pretty happy. And I didn’t even mind the steep driveway until the time in a sleep-deprived haze I tried to winch my non-running 4Runner into the garage with the hook attached to my bench vise. I didn’t like that workbench anyway.
About a year later, I moved again into my current man cave. It’s another two-car garage, but this one has a bitchin’ workbench with reclaimed science-lab countertops that are impervious to chemicals and welding. I’ve managed to cram a full fab shop’s worth of tools in it, plus any given two of my running 4x4 projects. I try to keep the non-running junk in my RV parking on the side of the house so I’m more motivated to work on them. That, and I’m pretty sure a bunch of dilapidated 4x4s detracts burglars. After all, would you break into a redneck’s house? Click-bang, hell no. I’ve had this garage for over a dozen years, and at least as many project builds have happened inside its walls. But now my buddy is building a house with a monster four-car garage capped with 12-foot ceilings, and I’m starting to suffer from feelings of garage inadequacy.
Four car bays, plus a work station, would be really sweet. And hey, as long as I’m dreaming, toss in a nice two-post lift. Of course, the ceilings would need to be 15-feet tall. Oh heck, why not 16 feet while I’m at it? I’d finally have room for an industrial bandsaw and a vintage lathe. Oh, and a plasma-tracer table. Jeez, with all that stuff I’d better make it a six-car garage. Big-screen TV? Sure, put one of those on a wall in my framed-in office and plumb the whole building for a dehumidifier so my tubing station doesn’t rust. And as long as we’re adding ducting, put in central heat and A/C. After all, I’ll have to sell my house and live in the garage to pay for all of this.
It’s nice to dream, but like I said, any garage is a good garage, even if it’s a one-car unit with a ’53 Willys all over it. Wanna share yours? Email me a high-res photo (at least 1600 by 1200 pixels), plus a description, to email@example.com with “Shop Share” in the subject, and if we get enough of ’em, we’ll run a story in Four Wheeler.