In My Garage
The Ultimate “Man Cave”
Eric Kaminsky - June 26, 2014 01:00 PM
A lot of car lovers would love an automotive-themed “man cave,” or just a little extra space in the family garage to do some work without having to squeeze around the lawn mower, tools, and the wife’s minivan.
Southern California resident Ron Mintle does that one better – he has a “man barn”. Measuring 3,000 square feet on the main level, with an additional 1,000 square feet for storing car parts and other large items in a second story loft on one side, there’s plenty of room to spread out.
But it’s more than just a place to park the cars (he has nine). That includes a 1971 Plymouth Cuda convertible, which he saw at a dealer in Hollywood when it was new, but couldn’t get then, having just bought a house and a Lotus Elan. That chance came five years later (when it had about 60,000 miles), and he still has it. He drove it until the odometer read 120,000, then he restored it, drove it another 130,000, and restored it a second time. The current project car is a 1968 Malibu, Ron’s first new car, which he never parted with. It is also undergoing its second restoration.
The car that started it all? A 1964 Pontiac GTO with tri-power that Ron had in college.
As the CEO of an international software company, Ron travels the world, and his collection of items reflects that. On the walls, you’ll find license plates from all 50 states, plus countries from around the world, arranged by region. The hardest ones to get, he told us, are from Communist countries like China, Vietnam and Cambodia. In Vietnam, for example, license plates are welded to the car as they are being assembled, and in China, it’s illegal to have a plate that’s not attached to a car.
Other interesting items are a four-way traffic light from Chicago, which a friend found in an antique shop when the city replaced older bulb versions with LED units. Other working signs include a left turn signal and a walk/don’t walk sign.
There’s even a library, lounge area with speakers from an old drive-in theater, workbenches, a four-post lift and a two-post lift. The second-story loft even has a hoist to handle heavy items like engines. Everything an enthusiast would want or need.
And if Ron ever gets bored of the automotive scene, there’s that 40-foot boat to work on. We asked what was the most unusual item in the barn. He thought and then said a 1970 Honda 125 motorcycle, which he cut up and reassembled with airline-type quick connectors, so it could be taken apart and put into three suitcases (Ron used to have his own plane). That was always easier than trying to get a rental car, and it was tuned to run on aviation fuel.
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