Garage Love: Please Don't Call It My ManCave
I got a glimpse inside a garage that’s normally closed up tight along my route to work today. What first grabbed my eye was a new looking four-post lift stuffed on one side of a two-car garage. An early fifties Ford was parked next to the lift, the flat-black paint and contrasting white and red pinstripes indicated that while the owner wasn’t on my sports-car loving team, they certainly played the same game.
My first thought was, “Nice mancave.” And I immediately knew that this term was all wrong.
A cave implies that the owner is a primitive who has just barely controlled the use of fire. We are not cavemen whose number one fear is getting eaten by a smilodon. Sure, I’d still run from a sabre-toothed cat if I saw one in the Chipotle line, but I’m no caveman.
I prefer to liken my garage to something a little more recent in the history of our species, the blacksmith’s forge. With sparks flying and the scorched steel smell permeating the shop, my vision is true. I grind, weld and hammer like a Norseman readying his longship and armaments to take on the North Sea.
Our cars are the trebuchets and catapults from millennia past. We are not in the first bunch of guys running towards a castle with just a hastily made wooden spear. We have evolved, learned and built war machines with purpose—to race and to win or maybe to just look cool.
Forgive me when I bristle on that mancave term. On one hand, it implies both fear and helplessness in the face of the natural world. The modern implication is even worse. If you watch any of the endless parade of real estate reality shows, the term mancave implies a pinball machine, a recliner and big screen TV for soft people to watch other people do the cool shit that they should be doing themselves. Screw that.
The world is not best experienced while you are straddling a couch and eating cheezy puffs in your basement. Get up, go out to the garage and do something. The cavemen who became modern man weren’t content to just be afraid of the dark. They picked up what they could, made what they couldn’t find and conquered the world. They created tools from wood, then stone and bronze before working out how to make iron and steel.
That spirit is still alive in what we do with cars. We take what is broken, slow or ugly and transform it into something else entirely—from 1950s lead sleds to sleek sportsters. If a cave dweller can walk away from the light and comfort of a warm fire, we can hop off the couch and turn the raw elements of rust and rubber into the pride of our garage.