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The Wonderful World of DIY Garages

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A Better Way

Looking out the living room window as snow is still falling; you struggle to hold back the tears. These are not tears of joy over the picturesque scenery or even tears of sadness over the amount of fluffy white stuff you will have to shovel off your sidewalk. These are tears of frustration, built up from constantly trying to figure out where you are going to be able to work on the ’57 Chevy sitting in your garage. While the love-of-your-life vehicle is tucked cozily inside the garage, the family car is buried somewhere in the frozen tundra that was your yard. “There’s got to be a better way,” you cry to the heavens.

We Got the Space You Need

Well, the heavens may be giving you an answer! Welcome to the wonderful world of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) garages. The concept for these facilities is nothing new. In fact, the military has been offering their base personnel access to repair bays like this for some time. Service members are able to rent the space and the tools they need to work on their vehicles right on the base.

DIY Garages Are Helpful Restoration Tool For Collector Car Owners
(Photo by

DIY Garage

Use Is Growing Monuments to self sufficiency, self service garages have cropped up all over the United States. From California to Florida, these establishments offer gear heads and first-time mechanics a convenient way to work on their cars in a covered area complete with professional lifts and most of the basic tools required. A person who wants to restore their vintage models or collector cars or perform their own maintenance and repairs can rent space by the hour, the day or the week. Hourly rates start around $25 for the work space. Many locations offer an on-site mechanic to give you the help needed for tougher repairs. Those rates start around $85 an hour.


DIY Garages Are Helpful Restoration Tool For Collector Car Owners
(Photo by Byron Houlgrave/ Des Moines Register)

At DIY it’s BYO

The garages provide the space but the clients are responsible for bringing the parts and fluids they will need for their restoration or repair. All clean up and disposal of hazardous materials are the responsibility of the do-it-yourself mechanic. If specialty equipment is needed, then the mechanic can also rent those at an hourly rate. Before any work is started however, the facility requires that the mechanic sign a waiver releasing them from any liability in the event of an accident. Some companies will require clients to take a class in the correct operation of the lifts and the proper handling of harmful materials before they turn them loose in the service area.

All the Space and Tools, Without the Hassle

Self service repair sites are the perfect location for individuals who live in apartments or in neighborhoods where Home Owners Associations (HOAs) might object to seeing someone changing their oil or restoring a car in front of their house. These establishments are ideal for the car enthusiast who doesn’t have the space in their home garage to properly work on a car. DIY shops also offer a place where like minded car lovers can come together and do what they love.


DIY Garages Are Helpful Restoration Tool For Collector Car Owners
(Photo by Byron Houlgrave/ Des Moines Register)

High Cost of Operation

So why isn’t there a DIY garage on every corner? There seems to be enough car buffs out there who want to work on their own cars and need the space to do it. It all comes down to profitability. Start-up costs are fairly high on these businesses. Owners are required to carry expensive liability insurance. Many times the monthly premiums exceed their monthly lease payments. High insurance costs mean that the service bays have to stay busy from day one. It takes a long time before they do more than just break even.

DIY Garages Are Helpful Restoration Tool For Collector Car Owners
(Photo of Ray & the late Tom Magliozzi, courtesy NPR’s “Car Talk”)

A Tough Business, Just Ask NPR’s “Car Talk”

It’s a tough business. Not everyone can make a go of it. One famous example is that of the Magliozzi brothers, hosts of NPR’s “Car Talk”. Sure, they became popular radio talk show hosts but back in the 70’s, Ray and is late brother Tom were two car lovers who decided to open a DIY garage in Cambridge, MA called Hacker’s Haven. They rented space and tools to “hackers” and hobbyists just like them. The brothers made a go of it for a few years but were never able to make the endeavor profitable. “We ended up helping everyone all the time, and we made no money,” Ray laughs. “It was fun though.” Eventually, the Magliozzi’s decided to turn their DIY business into a traditional auto repair shop that still exists today as Good News Garage. It may also be known as Ray’s Garage.



Space is Ready and Waiting

For do-it-yourselfers, these garages are essential. They offer the freedom to tinker on a car or motorcycle in a comfortable setting with everything they need close at hand. No longer do they have to brave the elements to rotate their tires or move a garage full of Christmas decorations just to be able to lift the hood or stage an all-out car restoration. Work space is readily available. So to all the gear heads and vintage car collectors out there who love to work on their cars themselves, we say rejoice! There may be a DIY garage nearby that has a service bay ready and waiting for you.

Count on Classic Auto

Taking care of your car requires more than just changing the oil and rotating the tires. Be sure you have your car protected with the right collector car insurance policy from Classic Auto Insurance. Check out our website at and see how we can help safeguard your dream car.

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