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There are garages, and there are Garage Mahals

When the wheel was invented, a bunch of guys huddled around it. Eventually, one guy mumbled “good.” The others nodded.

When the wheel was invented, a bunch of guys huddled around it. Eventually, one guy mumbled “good.” The others nodded.

But one guy, still scratching his nether regions, wondered out loud, “but where you put at night?”

A man couldn’t just leave his “wheel” lying about, thought this dude, contemplating the coming ice age, the clumsy wooly mammoth in the neighbourhood, and the envious tribe across the river.

He also figured that this wheel might need to be worked on from time to time, or at least shined up a bit. And when this wheel was looking good, a man would want to show it to his buddies. Then he thought these buddies might need a beer. So this guy, this enlightened ancestor of ours conceived of a cave, not far from the family cave — but far enough — with space enough for a wheel or two, a bit of elbow room for standing around, some shelving, and some electric outlets, one of which would be used for a small fridge. Finally, there would be a big door that would swing up into the roof. When he finally got it done, he brought his buddies around. They liked it. They liked it real good.

So began the tradition of garages that extend a car guy’s passions. When big enough, these garages are sometimes known as Garage Mahals. But they also respond to Man Cave, Garage with Cheese, and Big Room with the Really Loud Furniture.

Through the years I’ve visited a few, and heard about some others. Here’s a quick cross-country tour of my favourites …

In Chester, N.S., Colin MacDonald has built a garage in the style of an old train station. It holds over 20 vehicles and one really nice pool table.

One province over, in New Brunswick, you’ll find Doug MacDonald. An avid Corvette collector, Doug decided the best place to store and display his most priced examples (seven in total) would be in the basement of his new house.

The cars are arranged in a semi-circle and each ‘Vette can be pushed out without disturbing its stable mates. The ceramic-tile floor is heated by hot-water plumbing.

Outside London, Ont., you’ll find Steven Plunkett, who has a thing for those big, classic-era Cadillacs of the 1920s and ’30s, and owns more than a few. Guess where he keeps them? In a huge and beautiful building, which evokes the “art deco” vibe of New York’s Waldorf Astoria. Back in the day, the hotel was often used to debut Cadillac’s new models.

His “other” garage holds his other Cadillacs, about 30 of them, and is connected to his house by a 200 metre underground tunnel.

In Abbotsford, B.C., Abe Suderman has the country’s largest collection of Willys vehicles. They all reside in one building; one section has the restored cars, and features a period-correct Willys parts counter. The other section is for the less-than-perfect cars, some of which are displayed in their glorious “as found in a field” state, such as the one with the fake tree growing out of it.

His muscle cars are housed in another “garage,” where the interior has been rebuilt to resemble a car dealership of the early 1950s.

 
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