Well here we are again with another killer garage as promised in our last installment as we are soundly resurrecting this popular component of Corvette Fever. Again, if you haven't responded to the call I put out before asking for more cool garages to run in this same space, please drop me an email to let me know what cool garage you own or you have located in your own neighborhood. Now, let's visit The Harper family garage in Raleigh, North Carolina!
After a lifetime of admiring Corvettes, retired accountant Bob Harper's "second career" evolved into Corvette restoration to the delight of his wife Sharon and son Rob, both Corvette enthusiasts as well. It wasn't until Bob's retirement in 1990 that their involvement in the hobby really began. Since that time, they have restored several cars, acquired some very unique and special Corvettes, and have met many friends in the hobby. Their love of the Corvette began in 1994 when they purchased a fully optioned '72 Targa Blue LS-5 convertible that was in dire need of a complete frame-off restoration. This car has become one of the very special cars in their collection and really ignited their passion for the hobby.
Active in local and national Corvette clubs, NCRS and NCCC, their passion quickly outgrew the small attached two-car garage of their existing home. The new garage was originally designed as an add-on to the home, but those plans changed several times. The decision was then made to build the new garage detached from the original house, angle and shift it 35 feet to allow for the addition of a side garage door on the work side of the garage, and then also provide ample room for a drive and parking pad between the two structures. Additionally, an external stairway from the parking area was added to the back of the new structure to provide access to the open multi-purpose room upstairs without compromising space at the garage level. Initially set up as an office and parts storage area, the upstairs also now accommodates a modular HO model train layout, which has been another passion of Bob's for many years. The second floor was designed with the unique feature that there are no supporting structures, walls, or columns on the floor space and it has created a massive area for multipurpose use now and in the future. Both floors have full bathrooms and additional comforts such as a kitchen and sitting areas for guests.
Another unique feature of the garage is the division of the "work area" for some of the cars from the "clean" show area for restored and Survivor cars. This feature was one of the focal points of building the garage and it was designed to have one side displaying several of their very special cars in their collection, and then there would be a space on the other side for working on current projects and routine maintenance of their cars. The two areas are divided by a wall with 42-inch-high glass windows and were installed just above the proper height for the work bench area and these large windows, one of which is over nine feet long, running the width of the building straight down the middle of the garage space. There is a door with full length glass that provides easy access between the two sides. This feature provides great visibility between both sides of the garage.
Another unique feature includes separate air handling systems that protect the restored and original Survivor cars on the show side from any fumes and dust of the work side. Each of the air systems on the garage level also utilizes electrostatic clean air filters to keep the dust in the air to a minimum around the cars. The open upstairs area also has its own air handling systems which makes for four separate air units on the outside of the building.
A lot of additional thought and preparation was put into the functional aspect of the building. They added hot and cold water outlets throughout the structure and have internal shut-off valves for each water outlet. This allows for hot and cold water at almost every corner of the garage, inside and out. The hot water is fed by a tank-less hot water heater that resides in the first floor storage room just off the work area side. In addition to the plumbing for the water, they also added copper plumbing throughout the structure for compressed air at several points. With an air compressor installed in the first floor storage room, they have easy access at almost every wall for compressed air to run many types of tools and equipment.