Shop Visit: Cyrus Clark

Before 1990, when I built my five-bay garage, I spent a year looking for the right property on which to build my working sanctuary. After acquiring the property, I immediately went to work designing the structure and engaged a contractor to build my garage.

A few months later, I was ready to place some of the cars that I had at the time in a new, properly enclosed environment. At last, sanctuary, where I could work and admire my cars in peace and tranquility, 5 miles from where I live. My wife and two children could not readily interrupt my work, and I did not have to hear any noises or conversation except for the purr of the car engines.

As time has passed and I have acquired and sold many cars, I seem to have settled into an eclectic and diverse small collection that stays dehumidified in the summer and properly heated in the winter. The lift, MIG welder and compressor, along with many hand and specialty tools, allow me to do the maintenance that is necessary to keep the cars running and looking good.

Currently occupying my crowded sanctuary are my 1 950 Olds Rocket 88 that I ran in the 1992 La Carrera Panamericana and 1993 Colorado Grand; the restored 1965 Porsche 356SC coupe; a nice, driving 1966 Triumph TR4A; a great street-registered 1965 Chevrolet Corvette roadster that is vintage-raced; and my son’s 1987 Mazda RX-7 ITA race car.

When I want to put a car on the lift, I have to move my 1995 Tahoe out of the garage. I have little space for spare parts in the garage, so I purchased a 22-foot box truck for storage that I park out back.

My garage has given me immense pleasure over the years and has provided a great place to work and enjoy my favorite hobby of driving and working on my collector cars.

Practical Guidance: Cyrus Clark’s Shop Tips

Heating System: For most of North America, you will want to have a heating system both to preserve your cars and chemicals as well as to make a more comfortable working environment for yourself. I use an oil-fired, forced-hot-air system.

Dehumidification: This is necessary for most of North America, where humidity is a factor. Dehumidification will keep your car from rusting and also keep your working environment 5–10 degrees cooler in the summer.

Garage Floor Coating: If you have a concrete floor and you want to paint it, make sure you have a high-quality industrial coating that can sustain petroleum and salt. Surface preparation is also key to having a lasting finish on your floor.

Natural Lighting: I have found it most beneficial to have windows and skylights in my garage. I get a fair amount of natural light during daylight hours, which also helps to evaporate moisture out of the air. A garage without windows or skylights is typically not good for the preservation of your car due to humidity.

Tool Organization: If you have your tools put away in some sort of order in your drawers or cabinets, chances are you will be able to find them when you need them. Parts are difficult for me to store properly due to lack of space, so sometimes it takes me a while to find specific parts for a car.

Car Lifts: If you are thinking about installing a work/storage lift in your garage, make sure you have adequate space to store/work on your cars. My ceiling height is 11 feet, which is adequate for me to walk under and work on most of my cars. (I am 5-foot-7.) If you are taller, you may want to consider a 12–14-foot ceiling height.

Electric Lights and Outlets: I feel that for most garages, fluorescent lighting is adequate and does not use much electricity. I have placed about a dozen 115-volt outlets and six 230-volt outlets around my five-bay garage, and this seems to be adequate for my needs and the tools I use.

Workbenches: Even if you don’t perform much work on your own cars, you still really need a workbench if for nothing else but to place your things on. I have both a welded steel-frame workbench and a workbench made of wood. They are both satisfactory for the car work I do.

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