There are those who believe that a garage is nothing more than an extra space, good for nothing beyond stowing your plastic Christmas tree, boxes of old home videos and that pair of skis you used once many moons ago. And then there are believers.
The faithful understand the true worth of a garage. They understand why it, unlike other rooms in your home, features a floor you can drive cars on. To them, the garage is a holy place. Some may call it a “man cave” or “the fortress of solitude” — ok, so that’s mostly my dad. More than just a place to park a car, a truly well-executed garage is, for some, the ultimate expression of self.
Of course, not all of us have the means to express ourselves in grandiose ways, and that’s ok. There’s no shame in a well-organized two-car where the pegboard could tell stories. But, just in case Publishers Clearinghouse shows up at your door tomorrow with an eight-foot check, these 10 prime specimens of parking paradise might help give you some inspiration about how to spend it.
1. Roger Rodas & Paul Walker’s Warehouse
It’s ok if you have to smirk a little when you admit it, but The Fast & the Furious has become something of an institution. So what if every fact wasn’t spot-on? Watching Paul Walker flog that lime-green Eclipse made you want to do one thing: drive. Paul was a genuine gearhead before he and co-owner/business partner Roger Rodas suffered untimely deaths while driving a Porsche Carrera GT, and this expansive facility was home to his collection.
The warehouse features a two-level array that held over 60 cars before much of the collection was sold off following the accident. Rather than the seven-figure fetching Duesenbergs and Delahayes of more traditional collectors, Walker and Rodas assembled a collection of more modern metal.
Sadly, in a move not even the crew from the movies would pull, a large number of Walker’s cars were stolen from the collection within 24 hours of his passing. The alleged suspects in the heist were garage hands, and are said to have turned the cars over to Rodas’ estate. Where’s Dom Toretto when you need him?
2. Jerry Seinfeld’s Underground Lair
Jerry’s fans might miss seeing him on the sitcom of the same name, but his more recent project, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” gives a taste of the funnyman’s well-developed car knowledge. Seinfeld’s 46-car collection, which famously contains rare Porsches, resides in Manhattan not far from his home in Central Park West.
Seinfeld’s facility looks unassuming from the outside, which is probably the best way to keep unwanted attention out. Once past the plain entryway, guests take an elevator underground to visit the three-story complex.
Once inside, there’s more to see than just the cars. Seinfeld has installed a nearly 850 square-foot living quarters that includes a club room with a pool table, an office, a bathroom and, of course, a kitchenette.
A computer controlled security and HVAC system ensures that the goods are well protected from theft and the elements. Should Seinfeld get curious about the condition of his cars while out and about, it is said that he can check their status using nothing more than his cell phone. See — there really is an app for everything.
3. Ralph Lauren’s Car Gallery
One of the world’s most successful designers has a personal appreciation for design in the form of classic cars. The man behind the Polo brand owns a cadre of vintage Ferraris, Alfa Romeos, Talbot Lagos and every one of them is showcased here, in a setting Lauren had carefully styled to make the cars stand out.
Each of two floors in the garage — which Lauren has named the D.A.D after his three sons — is painted black to contrast with the stainless steel pallets that hold cars from his illustrious collection. Halogen lighting bathes every individual “piece” in this museum-like setting, and Lauren is proud of the fact that cars in his collection all have their own unique story.
The facility, located in Westchester, New York, was home to an actual car dealership prior to Lauren’s acquiring it. When Lauren’s car collection grew in numbers to more than 60, he felt it was time to put all the vehicles in one place, so his Vice President was tasked with designing the D.A.D.
Along with the cars, the D.A.D includes a workshop, library and living quarters.
4. Myron Vernis’ Eccentric Collection
You know a guy who goes by the name “Junkman” is going to have a wild garage. But Myron Vernis’ establishment is far from the clutter-packed silos you might expect to see someone picking through for nostalgic metal signs.
Located inside a mundane-to-behold brick building near Akron, Ohio, the Junkman’s facility has that patina of motor oil and neon glow that signifies the best garage getaways. Visitors are greeted by what you might at first take for a junk yard — fitting, given the owner — but you’d be very wrong.
A closer look at the Junkman’s collection reveals some of the world’s most eccentric and unlikely vehicles — everything from low-production golf carts to the Idaho-built Leata Caballero to the “world’s first” electric car, the XR-1. As Driving magazine puts it, “If Calvin and Hobbs were into cars, this is what their clubhouse would look like.”
The garage is so weird, it’s earned the attention of car people from Jay Leno to Jalopnik, but it’s hard to call a guy who brags about winning “worst of show” at the Concourse d’ Lemons presumptuous. Somehow Vernis manages to be over the top and completely humble at the same time.
5. Magnus Walker’s Porsche/Design Lab
With everyone and their mom scrambling to buy an air-cooled Porsche before the next Cash for Clunkers program wipes them out entirely, what started as a hobby for Magnus Walker has grown into a global obsession.
The Rob Zombie look-alike resides in Los Angeles, where he’s purchased and renovated a 2,600-square-foot vintage warehouse and loft that serves as the base of operations for his design projects — both sartorial and automotive. Pay a visit now, and it’s clear Walker and his wife have spared no expense making it into a display piece of its own. It took them over a year.
The real eye candy, however, lives downstairs, where Walker houses his incredible collection of one-of-a-kind Porsches. After falling in love with a first-generation Turbo during a stay in London, Walker set out to find a car of his own in the states — what followed is history.
These days, Walker hand selects vintage 911s and other Porsche models to restore. He does all the work himself, each piece is unique and they are not — unless you’re extremely lucky — for sale.
6. Rauh Welt Begriff World Headquarters
If there’s anyone out there who can follow Magnus Walker in a list of eccentric Porsche tuners with outrageous garages, it’s Akira Nakai. Nakai’s Rauh Welt Begriff (RWB) brand has become the stuff of legend in Japan, where his custom 911-derived creations are some of the country’s most recognizable tuner cars.
The RWB garage makes no attempts to be presumptuous, making its place on the edge of Kashiwa, Japan in a sea of scrap metal. But you’d be wrong to judge Nakai-san’s workshop by its looks. Each of the cars that emerge from this place is a one-of-a-kind work of art. Customers are rumored to include even the Sultan of Brunei.
Recently, Nakai has become the target of some negative attention from the Porschefile community. His taste for using rare air-cooled 930 Porsches as the base material for his builds has earned some disdain from those who feel the cars should be preserved.
A look around the garage is all it takes to reveal that this evidently doesn’t bother RWB’s founder. The place is littered with empty beer bottles and project cars getting their fenders — customers can choose between wide or wider — mounted, so it’s fitting that the brand’s name translates into “rough world concept.”
7. Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage
Former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno makes no attempt to hide his love affair with all things automotive. In fact, he regularly invites the public into his sprawling 130-car facility through his online series “Jay Leno’s Garage.” The facility is, in fact, comprised of space in several hangers at Bob Hope airport in Burbank, California.
With a full-time mechanic on hand and what is very possibly the world’s largest collection of mint-condition enormous car posters, life for pieces in Leno’s collection is good. And there are some pretty sweet pieces. Everything from vintage pre-war metal to the latest McLaren hypercar is here, with no shortage of eccentricities like Leno’s “Blastolene Special” tank-car sprinkled in for good measure.
Planning a visit to southern California? Purchase a ticket and you too can come experience Leno’s collection first hand, albeit for several hundred dollars. But hey, where else are you going to find so many cool rides in one spot? Adding to the coolness, each of Leno’s cars is licensed and legal to drive.
8. The F40 House
The F40 holds a special place in the hearts of many a Ferrarista. It’s combination of raw, unadulterated vigor, race car good looks and cutting-edge — for its time — technology still make it one of the quintessential poster cars for children of all ages.
One owner, however, went as far as to make the poster into a reality. That is, the F40 on display in their living room doesn’t have a frame. It’s just parked there.
In Paul Naintre’s novel about Italian racing drivers “The Man Who Married a Redhead,” Enzo Ferrari himself tells the story of a client so enamored with the car as to have their living room floor remodeled with a sunken section where the car was displayed. During cocktail parties, guests could admire the red beast and converse about what it must be like to drive.
We hope this homeowner hasn’t sealed the fate of his prancing horse so permanently, as by the looks of it, this F40 could hypothetically still live to spin a wheel in anger.
9. Ken Lingenfelter’s Private Collection
If you’re not familiar with the name, Ken Lingenfelter has been finding new ways to force-feed boost into the willing combustion chambers of America’s sports car — the Corvette, of course — for over two decades now. All those upgrades have paid off, and then some: Lingenfelter sports a collection of 190 choice specimens, and there are some very unique choices.
Located in Brighton, Michigan, Lingenfelter’s collection includes everything from dealer-one-off 70s Corvettes to Ferrari Enzo number 399 to the ultra-rare Vector W8, an American-built 90s hypercar.
What’s even cooler than the wild examples Lingenfelter has laid claim to is that he uses the collection to give back to the community. The doors of the facility, which are pretty fancy themselves, are regularly opened for charity events. More than 100 events a year make great use of the facility’s ample space and give the public the opportunity to appreciate Ken’s eccentric taste in real life.
Can’t make it to Michigan? You can still browse much of the collection from Lingenfelter’s website.
10. Holger Schubert’s “Office”
Holger Schubert of Los Angeles, California works in his garage quite frequently. That is, he parks his Ferrari 512 BBi, nicknamed the “Boxer over Brentwood,” in his office.
Schubert designed the building specifically to a car to be driven and out of the elevated office quarters, which feature an exceptional view of the southern California coastline. Going for a drive? The car exits its display case by way of a special motorized ramp that allows the car to roll backwards onto a bridge 16 feet off the ground.
It was almost not to be, however. Recently the $1.5 million construction project was the topic of some contention from LA lawmakers. Neighbors complained that Schubert’s construction work was taking too long and that the bridge would set bad precedent for construction in the city.
Luckily, the project is now finished and so far, Schubert’s Ferrari has avoided any ingress/egress issues.
Life must be difficult when you’ve got nowhere to store car number 191, or when a city ordinance threatens to revoke your ability to drive, literally, to your office desk. Thankfully, most of us will never have to deal with these types of problems. We can dream, though.