This month, we are featuring a garage owned by Andy Roderick of Lebanon, Tennessee. He recently moved there from Bowling Green, Kentucky, home of the Corvette and one of the most beautiful places on earth. I have known Andy for several years, and he is well respected in the Corvette hobby. He also has an extensive collection of car memorabilia that is housed in his garage, and on one of my visits with Jerry Heasley, we decided to shoot his garage so we could share it with the rest of the world right here in Corvette Fever. If there is one thing I would like for our readership to take away from this article, it's how cool a two- to three-car garage can look if you just put some time, effort, and a little money into the project. Andy is a great story teller, so I will let Andy tell his story from here.
Andy relates: My love for Corvettes started when I was in grade school. A teenage neighbor of ours bought a '58 red-with-white-coves Corvette. I drove him crazy begging for rides, and he almost always took me for a ride. Sadly his Corvette was destroyed in a garage fire, where he had left it to have a new intake manifold and two four-barrels installed on it.
I started getting serious about Corvettes in 1994, when I bought my first new one. At the time, I lived on a 100-acre farm in southern Ohio. The main part of the house was a 200-year-old original hand-hewn log cabin. I purchased another 200-year-old cabin, disassembled it, moved it to my farm, and rebuilt it. The down stairs was set up as a garage and wood working shop. When I bought the Corvette, I found the log garage too small and hard on the car. Our dogs slept in that garage and would shake mud all over my Corvette almost every day. That spurred me to action to design and build a new garage. When I told my wife of my new plan, she was all for it, and asked me to design and build a dance studio/gym upstairs. That garage was named "Garage Mahal," and it was in Car and Driver's top ten Garage Mahal's issue in 1998. That article was seen by the then-editor of Corvette Quarterly. He sent a photographer and writer to do a four-page article on that garage, and the article ended up being published in the Fall 1998 issue of Corvette Quarterly.
Not too long after that, we moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky, as I had been hired by the National Corvette Museum as the fundraising coordinator. We bought a home near Bowling Green, and I set out to transform my next garage-in fact, two garages. One was attached to the house, and one was a stand-alone. The one attached to the house was named by a friend of mine, Jerry Heasley. He saw it and said, "This is the C5 Taj Garage." That one was in several magazines, and a picture of it was used in the ad for Kiwi Tile for several years.
There were people who came to our house that never saw anything of it but the garage. I would invite them in and they would say they were fine hanging out in the garage. We entertained a good number of friends there. The stand-alone garage started life as a metal pole barn. My good friend Jerry Watts (yes, the same Jerry Watts who worked for the Corvette plant for many years) helped me build the inside. One third was my wood working shop, and the other was a two-car garage. The artwork on the inside of the garage door made the top ten garage door art contest in Car and Driver. This garage, being the third garage I had designed and built, was named "Garage-a-trois."
After I left the NCM, I decided to build houses. I bought a small development and built houses and sold lots. At the same time, we decided to build a lake house. We found two lots on Barren River Lake, about 35 miles south of Bowling Green. My next garage would be titled "Menage-Garage," which loosely translates from French to English as "Zoo Garage." While it would not be quite as large as I had hoped, it served its purpose. My garages have always sparked my interest in collecting things. Some are collections within collections. I started planning this garage as my wife Bethany and I planned the house. Since we could not build a large enough house on one level because of the lay of the land on our lots, we decided to build up. When all was said and done, we had designed a three-story, 4,800-square-foot home.
We are firm believers in bigger is better. My fourth garage ended up being 30 feet by 25 feet, with an 11-foot ceiling. In the garage in Ohio, I had a Stinger lift, but I sold it after we moved to Kentucky. Then, I missed it so much that I bought another Stinger lift while working at the NCM. I'm still not sure what made me offer the lift with the house, but I did and then I was without a lift again. The Stinger lift is the best-built lift on the market, as far as I'm concerned. As luck would have it, a close friend who lives near Atlanta had two lifts and decided to sell one. The price they were asking was too good to pass up.
This, however, created a new problem, moving the assembled lift from Atlanta to our lake house. I called Stinger Lifts and asked them for information on moving an assembled lift. They sent me instructions, but the type of trailer needed is no longer rented by U-Haul. After many days of searching for the correct trailer, I found the trailer I needed at Harbor Freight. I had to assemble it myself. That took the better part of a full day. Then I got my friend Carl Brotherton to go with me on this grand adventure. We took every tool, strap, nut, and bolt we could think of. I had mounted two 14-foot-long 6x6s onto the trailer to mount the lift on to. We had to drill four 1/2-inch holes in the inner lips of the lift to secure it to the 6x6s. We also had to use axle straps to hold the legs up. Because of the amount of weight we had past the end of the trailer, we could not go faster than 45 mph. This turned a five-hour trip into a nine-hour trip. In Lebanon, Tennessee, about one hour from home, we heard a thumping noise, and thought we had a flat. If only it had been that easy! The lug nuts on the trailer had worked loose and ruined the hub and wheel. Luckily for us, we met a guy at a gas station who took us to get a new hub, wheel, and tire. Eventually, we made it home safe and sound and got the lift installed.
Back to my current garage . . . many of the posters that we have collected have been framed and many are autographed. I consider the Zora autographs my favorites. I have collected pins and have over 90 Hooters pins alone. One of the collections within a collection is my set of Bowling Green, Kentucky, Outback Restaurant Corvette pins. I believe I have all 13 different ones. I have over 385 key chains and even two that fart. The dash plaque collection covers the frame of two windows and the double door frame to the storage room.
We also have license plates from all over the country, two stoplights with sequencers, and a walk/don't walk light with a sequencer as well. When I had the electrician wire the garage, I had him put outlets near the ceiling, with the top half of them all on one light switch. This way, when I want to turn on the neon, stop lights, C5 Corvette emblem Christmas lights, Corvette Logo lights, and beer advertisement lights, all I need to do is flip one switch.
While building this garage, we had the concrete contractor put a 3/4-inch step-up lip for the garage doors to sit in. This way, rain cannot come in under the garage door. The driveway down to the garage is very steep, so we had a drain built into the concrete pad that is wide enough to get a standard shovel into. The grates were cut to fit, and are easily removable. Living in the woods makes this a necessity. Because of the size of the house, we have one HVAC unit for each floor, and this requires three separate 200-amp breaker boxes. These have been covered by a throw and a Corvette flag. You might notice the checkered background behind the Corvette flag. That is a checkered plastic table cloth, cut to size, that shows through the white of the nylon flag.
We had the walls of the shop/storage area built with 2x12s for framing to create shelves for storage. I also built a fold-down work bench to save space. This is the second Kiwi Tile floor I've had. The first was an open-weave design in the house near Bowling Green. This one is a diamond-pattern floor. Kiwi is the best bang for the buck, because they are metric. Each tile is 13.1 inches by 13.1 inches. This means you cover more floor space for less money. I like the look of the Diamond plate design, but found the open weave easier to keep clean and quieter.
One of the collections in this garage are my wheels and tires. At one time, I had three cars with extra tires and wheels for each one in this garage. Having shelves with chain supports has been a signature in each of my garages. We put a Plexiglas window in this garage into the pool table room, so we can see the TV from the garage. Although we never needed to create an extra living space, we set the pool table room up so we could install a kitchen and bedroom in that space which would be its own separate living space with complete bath.
While building this home, we had the HVAC installers put adequate vents to heat and cool this garage. In the last garage, we added two vents but found it not to be sufficient to heat or cool the space. In this garage, we painted the door and window trim black to play off the black and white tile. The shelves were also painted black. The chains that hang the tire/wheel shelves are white, which saves a bunch of money instead of using chrome chain. The white chain can be found at Lowe's. The trouble light that hangs in the center of the garage doubles as an extension cord.
When the Star City Corvette Club from Roanoke, Virginia, visited, we had them out and served lunch in the garage for about 20 people. Because we have lots of Corvette friends who come to shows at the NCM, we built a bunk room on the third floor with four bunks. This also comes in handy when our children and grandchildren come for holidays. So far, we have owned 14 Corvettes and three have been in this garage-a '98 Corvette pace car, a '78 Corvette pace car, and an '07 Z06. Since we moved in December 2005, we have also owned two yellow SSRs, a '96 Dark Cherry Impala SS, an '06 Impala, an '07 Avalanche, an '08 Cobalt, and a '10 Equinox. We have not owned any make but Chevrolet since 1997. Even our dog is named Bow Tie.
On January 11 of this year, we sold this house and bought another north of Nashville. As luck would have it, the ceiling in the garage is 10 feet, 21/2 inches tall. Ten feet is the height needed to stack the Corvette and the SSR. I guess I will begin working on my next garage soon. Who knows what it will be called.
By The Numbers Garage Specs
30'x31'6" with 11-ft-tall ceilings overall, shop/storage 10'7"x11'8" with over 210 sq. ft. of shelves and double metal doors. Work bench (3'x8') folds against deep shelves. HVAC closet 6'x3'6"
• Concrete pad floor covered with black and white Kiwi Tile flooring. One-foot-thick concrete 11 ft.-high right side wall (studded with 2x4s), 2x6 studded front garage door wall (right garage door 8'x8' and left garage door is 16'x9'6"). Both doors are insulated and have windows, 2x6 stud wall left side exterior with two high-efficiency 3'x5' Marvin double hung windows, and 2x4 interior (back) wall with 36"x48" Plexiglas window into pool room. Steel walk-through door (36") between garage and pool room.
• 11-8' Fluorescent lights and 3-8' fluorescent lights in shop/storage room. 15 outlets near ceiling with top plug-in wired on one switch for neon lights, clocks, C5 logo Christmas lights, etc.
• Stinger 7,000-lb. lift with aluminum drive-on ramps custom painted red and black, drip tray, and jack bridge.
• 200 amp service for each floor. Seven outlets 36" off floor on GFI. Double outlets in ceiling at garage motor locations (great for hanging and powering trouble lights)
Heating and Cooling
• One Heil 3-ton unit for each floor (three floors) garage heated and cooled.
• Craftsman portable 2 hp 8 gallon. (small but very handy)
• Craftsman double toolbox on wheels. Other storage units made by Stanley. Andy now considers Stanley storage units are not manufactured for constant garage use and now recommends Gladiator Garage Works products. Five tire & wheel/ memorabilia shelves are made of 2x12s and are painted black to match window and door trim. They are hung with white chain from Lowe's.
• Many collections, framed posters, clocks, pins, plaques, posters, key chains, shot glasses, thermometers, license plates, metal signs, tires and wheels, and die-casts. One of my favorite collections is Corvette art work by Dana Forrester. Two stop lights and one walk/don't walk light, all with sequencers. Favorite autographs and photos: Zora Arkus-Duntov, and Jay Leno.