My Garage Plans

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Famous Garages

My Garage Plans Staff

Famous Garages

It’s no surprise that the rich and famous are accustomed to having a multitude of vehicles that cost more than most houses, but some of these super-rich superstars have taken their obsession with luxury automobiles to the extreme. And, naturally, they must have an equally extravagant garage to house (or tinker with) their extensive (and expensive) collections. Here’s a quick overview of two of the most outrageously over-the-top garages on the planet:

Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage
Clocking in at a staggering 17,000 square feet (that’s ten 1,700 square foot houses), Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage (as he has so lovingly named it) is probably one of the largest private garages on the planet. It has to be that big in order to keep all of Jay’s autos in tip-top shape – at last count he owned over 50 vintage and exotic cars, and about as many bikes. One quarter of the massive garage is home to a machine shop capable of fabricating parts for Jay’s vintage rides, allowing nearly all of the work to be done in house by Jay and his team of mechanics. And what garage isn’t complete without a gourmet kitchen? That’s right – when Jay isn’t busy getting his hands dirty under the hood of a car he’s busy getting his hands dirty in his state-of-the-art kitchen, right in the comfort of his own garage.

Jerry Seinfeld's Garage
Funny-man Jerry Seinfeld sank more money into his New York garage than some people make in a lifetime – $1.5 million to be exact. An avid Porsche collector, Mr. Seinfeld purchased a building near his home in New York City for a cool $1 million, while renovations cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000. That’s a small price to pay for the ability to house 20 of his most prized automobiles so close to home.

It doesn’t take millions of dollars to make a garage famous, however. There are a couple of very modest garages that played a key role in revolutionizing the modern world.

The Packard Garage
In 1939, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded Hewlett-Packard in Packard’s Palo Alto, CA garage. They kicked around several ideas for products to manufacture, and finally settled on an audio oscillator based on Hewlett’s college design. Packard’s wife, Lucile, worked in the kitchen to bake paint onto the sheet metal casings. They were not immediately successful, and actually almost gave up on their dream when an order came in from Walt Disney for 8 audio oscillators. Thus was born one of the most successful and influential businesses of the 20th century.

The Jobs Garage
Another famous garage in the Silicon Valley story is that of the Jobs family. It was here, in Cupertino, CA that Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs started up Apple Computer. This venture came after a failed attempt by Wozniak and his friend, Bill Fernandez, to introduce the Cream Soda computer which shorted out during a presentation to a reporter. This garage is personally responsible for helping shape the world as we know it today. Thanks Apple. Without you, we may actually still have to get out a phone book to look up the number for Pizza Hut.

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History of Garages

My Garage Plans Staff

Garage History

A lot of people probably don’t put much thought into the history behind their garage. They have always been a part of our culture, storing our vehicles and various other equipment, so it might come as a bit of a surprise to learn that these additions to the home are a relatively recent development.

The original intent of the garage was simple: to house a new-fangled contraption known as the automobile. Up until the turn of the 20th century, garages were non-existent because they were not yet needed. Instead, people had “carriage houses” where they stored their horse and buggy (the main transportation of the day). As cars started making their way into the American lifestyle, they were initially stored in the carriage house right alongside the horses. This quickly became a problem, seeing as how people’s brand new fancy automobiles smelled like horse manure…and so the garage was born.

The very first garages were similar to the parking garages of today. They were one level structures where people could rent a spot on a monthly basis. This worked well until around 1910 when the number of cars started growing faster than the number of available parking spaces. People began to seek out a more convenient place to store their vehicles, so they turned back to the idea of the carriage house – minus the smelly horses – and thus the garage as we know it today began to take shape. The word “garage” actually comes from the French word garer – which means “to shelter or protect.” And that is exactly what they were meant to do. The first garages were nothing more than simple sheds, with a barn-style double door that opened outward. These doors required a large clear area in front of them in order to fully open, and it was quickly determined that a door that could be housed within the garage itself would be much more efficient. By 1921, the overhead garage door was invented, and just 5 years later automated overhead doors were available for people who had trouble lifting them.

The modern garage tends to be a catch-all place which has many functions – from providing extra storage for seasonal items (sleds, snow shovels, etc.), to functioning as a workshop, to even being an extended living space – but even today, it’s main function is still to shelter and protect some of our most valuable possessions.

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