Garage Envy – Eight books about garages

What do Popsicles® and garage books have in common? Both come in a myriad of “flavors” and just as your sweet tooth may favor orange over cherry or maybe likes grape the best, so might one type of garage book be more enticing to you than another. For instance, let’s say you want to be entertained while reading about and seeing the fabulous collections of other people, along with the various ways they house and display their treasures. Or maybe you are seriously considering building your own “play room” from scratch, or revising and updating existing garage space. The peek between the covers of eight “garage” books reviewed here will help you identify which ones you want for the shelves of your own library.

Five of the eight books take you on tours of garages and collections. They share in common beautiful photography and how they are organized as each has chapters (ranging from 12 in Wheels, to 20-24 in Dream Garages and the two Ultimate Garages), with each chapter presenting a different collection. Except for one, Motor City Dream Garages which as the title suggests features only collections in/around Detroit, the garages and collectors are an eclectic mix, scattered all over America. Perhaps you’ll be surprised to learn that there is virtually no repetition—each book shows and tells about different garages, collections, and collectors.

One of the exceptions who is profiled in more than one book is Buck Mook. His garage and collection is presented in both Ultimate Garages II and Motor City Dream Garages. Each author—Phil Berg in Ultimate Garages and Rex Roy in the other—approaches the showing and telling differently, thus readers see different cars and learn different aspects of a collector’s personality on the pages of their respective books.
Even the Ultimate Garages books aren’t identical in presentation. The first book told of and showed the collector and his cars. But the sequel has nary a collector face on any page, only cars and the interiors of the garages. And inII, but not in I, there are sidebar statistics listing information such as number of cars in the collection, square footage of garage, and the approximate cost to create the structure.

Fun as it is to look at and read about the interesting—often fabulous—collections of others, it can also be fun to plan and execute upgrades to your own garage. Or even plan, design, and build from scratch.

Garage, Reinventing the Place We Park by Kira Obolensky contains drawings and floorplans, some with architect’s notes, for a variety of applications appropriate for climate conditions, building styles and uses in various areas of this country. Titles of some of the chapters give you an idea of what you’ll find between the covers of this book; Parking in the Garage, Living in the Garage, Garage Ventures and Shops & Studios. And so that you can see how the plans are realized and executed, all of the finished and in use spaces are shown photographically finished.

These next two books will help you turn your dreaming, planning and research into reality regardless of whether you do-it-yourself or hire architects and builders to do it for you. Ultimate Garage Handbook by Richard Newton and How To Build Your Dream Garage by Lee Klancher have in common the publisher—Motorbooks, with both part of that publisher’s Workshop series.

There’s some overlapping in these books—as both have sections on flooring, storage, lighting, climate control, etc. Each section in each book is color-coded with reference tabs on every page although (sadly) there is no consistency in color of tab from one book to the next. Another observation: while each book lists contacts and resources, there is no redundancy whatsoever between the two. For instance, if you are looking for a supplier of flooring, you need both books in order to learn of the most makers and suppliers of same.

Staying with our flooring example for the moment, Klancher’s book is more overview where Newton’s book gets you “down on your hands and knees” as it contains detailed instructions for fifteen different d.i.y. projects. But when it comes to lighting, Klancher’s book contains the most detailed information, including installation instructions. So the reality is—if you’re delving into the details of building or remodeling your own garage—you’ll likely find useful information in both of these “how to” books.

Lastly, this survey of garage books is far from all-inclusive of what is available. Not included here are the specialty titles that present collections dedicated to hot rodders, motorcycle enthusiasts, and other special interests. So enjoy your favorite flavor popsicle as you select and then enjoy reading your favorite garage book.

Copyright 2009 Helen V Hutchings (
[This review was edited from a review that appeared in the Summer/Fall 2009 issue of Avanti Magazine-used with permission]

Garage, Reinventing the Place We Park
by Kira Obolensky
208 pages 10” x 9.5” softbound, 226 color, 11 b/w photographs and 14 architect diagrams
List price: $24.95
Taunton Press, 2003
ISBN: 978-1561586455
Wheels, A Passion for Collecting Cars
by Stuart Leuthner
240 pages 12” x 10” hardbound, 57 b/w and 204 color photographs
List price: $50
Harry N Abrams, Inc, 2005
ISBN: 978-0810955967
Dream Garages
by Kris Palmer
192 pages 10.25” x 10.25” hardbound, 266 color photographs
List price: $34.95
Motorbooks, 2006
ISBN: 978-0760326763
Motor City Dream Garages
by Rex Roy
192 pages 9.25” x 10.875” hardcover, 258 color photographs
List price: $34.95
Motorbooks, 2007
Ultimage Garages
by Phil Berg
224 pages 10” x 10” softcover, 175 color photographs,
List price: $19.95
Motorbooks, 2003
ISBN: 0-7603-1471-3
Ultimate Garages II
by Phil Berg
192 pages 11.25” x 11.25” hardcover, 130 color photos
List price: $34.95
David Bull Publishing, 2007
ISBN: 978-1893618749
Ultimate Garage Handbook
by Richard Newton
112 pages 8.25” x 10.5” softbound, 160 color photos and 15 drawings,
List price: $21.95
Motorbooks, 2004
ISBN: 978-0760316405
How To Build Your Dream Garage
by Lee Klancher
160 pages 8.25” x 10.625” softbound, 212 color images
List price: $29.95
Motorbooks, 2008
ISBN: 978-0760331736
RSS Feed - Comments

Leave a comment

(All comments are moderated: you will see it, but until it's approved no one else will.)