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Inside an Arcadia Car Collector’s Over-the-Top Dream Garage

The 10,000-square-foot garage is as functional as it is stylish. The dark gray walls and polished black concrete flooring lend an industrial vibe. The centerpiece of the room is a turntable that showcases Mike’s 1965 Shelby Cobra. “This is a dream,” he says. “Other than my family, it’s all I need in life—a bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom and this garage, with a hangout space.”

In Arcadia, a stylish garage showcases a beloved automotive collection.

Photography by Scott Sandler

As a child growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, Mike Lovell was obsessed with cars. Coming from a family of gear heads, he spent many hours in the garage with his father working on and restoring old vehicles. And when other kids would doodle the names of their crushes on the outer edges of their homework, Mike could be found scribbling “69 Camaro SS 396” over and over in his notebooks. “That car was always my dream,” he says.

When he turned 13—years before he even had his driver’s license—the young automotive enthusiast bought his first ride, a 1967 Camaro, which he still owns. He’s since added a few more Chevys to his fleet, including a 1967 Corvette, Bel Airs from 1955 and ’56, a ’69 Chevelle and that fantasy ’69 Camaro in Lemans blue with a black interior, as well as a bevy of dream rides ranging from a 1932 Packard Light Eight to a show-stopping 1965 Shelby Cobra and a 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish.

For years, Mike stored his cars with friends and family, but when he and his wife, Stacy, purchased their home on 2 acres near The Phoenician resort in late 2014, he was finally able to bring his collection together under one roof. “When I got this property, I wanted to build a garage where I could have a machine shop, but it turned into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build my own museum at the base of Camelback Mountain,” he explains.

Mike tapped builder Joe Hendricks and interior designer Raegan Ford to turn his dream into a reality.

From the outside, the 10,000-square-foot structure looks more like a barn, with its raised center aisle design, long covered porch, large garage doors and tan stucco finish that blends with Arcadia’s bucolic landscape. “Mike likes to say, ‘We don’t have horses, but we have horse power,’” Stacy notes with a laugh.

Inside, the aesthetic is sleek and industrial. “It looks like a museum-quality garage, but it doesn’t function that way,” Ford remarks. “It features masculine materials and textures, but it’s livable.”

For years, Mike stored his cars with friends and family, but when he and his wife, Stacy, purchased their home on 2 acres near The Phoenician resort in late 2014, he was finally able to bring his collection together under one roof. “When I got this property, I wanted to build a garage where I could have a machine shop, but it turned into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build my own museum at the base of Camelback Mountain,” he explains.

1. Homeowner and car enthusiast Mike Lovell purchased this 1932 Packard Model 900 at an RM Sotheby’s auction a few years ago. “Even though pre-war cars weren’t my thing, I just couldn’t take my eyes off it,” he says. “It’s got a rumble seat, and I can take the whole family out in it.” In the background are hoods from old Pontiac Trans Am Firebirds that were salvaged from junkyards. “I didn’t want to be like everyone else and have a bunch of signs on the walls,” Mike adds. 2. Mike sits behind the wheel of a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, the first car he ever owned. He purchased the vehicle in the 1980s when he was only 13. When it was time for college, he sold it—or so he thought. “What I didn’t know is that my dad had his buddy buy it,” Mike explains. “Years later, he restored it and gave it back to me. That was pretty cool.” 3. More than a place to store cars, the garage is a true guest house with a fully equipped kitchen. Ford fabricated the range hood out of high-shine diamond plate stainless steel. “It’s known for its use and durability in the automotive industry,” she says.

Mike tapped builder Joe Hendricks and interior designer Raegan Ford to turn his dream into a reality.

From the outside, the 10,000-square-foot structure looks more like a barn, with its raised center aisle design, long covered porch, large garage doors and tan stucco finish that blends with Arcadia’s bucolic landscape. “Mike likes to say, ‘We don’t have horses, but we have horse power,’” Stacy notes with a laugh.

Inside, the aesthetic is sleek and industrial. “It looks like a museum-quality garage, but it doesn’t function that way,” Ford remarks. “It features masculine materials and textures, but it’s livable.”

1. The 1965 Shelby Cobra 289 is one of only 453 made. It is 100% original, with 26,000 original miles and only one previous owner. 2. Interior designer Raegan Ford designed the lounge area for large crowds and intimate gatherings. She complemented the room’s main purpose by adding coffee tables crafted from car parts—one from an engine block, the other from sheet metal salvaged from junkyard vehicles. Mike and a friend built the bar and backsplash from wood reclaimed from an 1800s tobacco barn. “The juxtaposition of metals and concrete slabs against the rough sawn wood and soft leathers creates a sleek and inviting environment,” Ford says.

The main space is open and airy. Rows of clerestory windows line the center aisle roof, allowing copious natural light to filter in without the worry of direct sunlight damaging the cars’ and motorcycles’ leather or paint. Deep I-beams support the roof structure and a second-story hanging mezzanine. “I didn’t want any posts that would break up the space or that could be hit by cars,” Mike explains. The polished black concrete floors are both contemporary and practical. “I designed everything in here so that any car can be driven at any time, without any effort,” he adds.

Beneath the mezzanine, where Stacy hosts girls’ night card games, is a cozy entertainment and hangout spot, complete with low-profile leather sofas, coffee tables crafted from car parts, and an expansive bar and feature wall that Mike and a friend built from reclaimed wood from an 1800s tobacco barn. “Even though it’s a garage, I didn’t want it to be kitschy,” Ford says. “Mike and Stacy do a lot of entertaining, so they needed a space that functions for both large and small groups and features several different seating vignettes. When selecting furnishings, I made sure that they not only looked good but that they also were comfortable.”

1. Vintage racing karts and fun bikes share space with Mike’s car collection. A 1928 Matchless is displayed above the doorway. “I use classic motorcycles as art,” Mike explains. “Anything I don’t ride gets hung on the wall.” 2. In addition to the 15-or-so cars that are rotated in and out on a regular basis, the garage holds about 40 motorcycles, ranging from cruisers to choppers to off-road bikes. The 1970 Harley-Davidson XR 750 that hangs on the wall is the most decorated bike in the history of American Motorcyclist Association racing. Only 199 were made. 3. The bathroom has a garagelike aesthetic, with concrete countertops, red lever faucet handles, cage light sconces and a mirror with exposed rivets. The walls are clad with a highly textured industrial stone that “provides a rough, masculine vibe,” Ford notes. “Small details go a long way.”

While visitors initially are blown away by Mike’s eclectic groupings of cars—he rotates his collection, displaying about 15 at a time—and 40-plus motorcycles, as well as an assortment of dirt bikes and go-carts, they’re also surprised to learn that the garage is actually considered a home (it’s zoned as a single-family residence), complete with a fully equipped kitchen, bedroom and two bathrooms. Ford points out, “The living spaces are interesting and beautiful, but they don’t compete with
the cars.”

Recently, Mike broke ground on a second garage on his property. This time, he promises that it will be a working garage, where he can get his hands dirty. But for now, he and his family enjoy spending time in their personal museum, watching TV or movies, playing games or, on warm summer nights, throwing open the glass walls and watching their daughter, a nationally ranked skateboarder, grab some air on the concrete skate park that the couple installed next to the garage.

“I’ve built a lot of things in my life, and every time, I’ve thought of something I should have added or done differently,” Mike says. “This is the first thing I’ve finished that I wouldn’t change. It’s exceeded my expectations. It really is a dream come true.”

For more information, see Sources.

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