Thinking of buying yourself a weekend car, but not sure if you have space in the garage? As Callum Fitzpatrick discovered, a novel parking solution could help justify your next purchase.
As Australian cities and towns grow ever denser, parking becomes an increasingly challenging exercise. Garages seem to be getting smaller and smaller in new builds, without space for even the most modest car collection. That’s why a lot of blokes are looking to clever parking solutions such as automatic stackers, underground pits and revolving turntables to squeeze their cars into smaller spaces and maximise the amount of room in the garage.
Some companies around the world have taken elaborate parking systems to the extreme – you may have read about the apartment complex in Singapore which allows you to drive your car into an elevator, scan your fingerprints and shoot your car up to a showcase in your living room.
That’s one end of the spectrum, but for the rest of us, car parking systems can actually be incredibly practical.
It all starts with the humble double stacker. This is a freestanding machine that behaves much like the hoists you see at the local mechanic – a car is parked on the ground, you raise it up in the air and another car can be parked underneath.
However, as Hercules Carparking Systems managing director Terry Smith explains, a double stacker has some neat features which set it apart from a run-of-the-mill hoist.
“From a purely structural standpoint, a double stacker usually comprises of just two posts and these are situated towards the back of the mechanism, so it takes up a much smaller footprint than a hoist,” he says.
“A double stacker also has a solid platform, so if you have an oil leak, it won’t drip onto the car below. Ours even have an automatic locking system in place so your car stays put in the event of an earthquake.”
Car Stackers International (CSI) has an answer to the double stacker which comes in the form of the Duplex parking system. This features a single lifting column and uses electrohydraulic technology to power its elevation.
“A car stacker might seem like a luxury item at first but it’s actually a very practical solution. The best advantage is that you expose a lot of extra floor space that you wouldn’t otherwise have,” CSI sales and marketing assistant Ellana Moseshvili says.
“You no longer have to compromise the cars you own with your precious workshop space. You can have both.”
Double stackers are great, but if you don’t have a garage with a high ceiling, you’re going to look to another solution. Terry says that excavating some underground space could be the way to go.
“Pit-type machines allow you to hit a button, lift your car up to ground level and drive on out. We install a lot of these for collectors that only have a standard height garage and can’t install a double stacker,” Terry says.
“They’re very popular with auto enthusiasts that have a weekend car or something they’re not using every day. That’s because you obviously have to move the car above to access it, so it’s not as practical for daily use.”
Spacepark general manager David Stott says that pit mounted units are one of the company’s most popular solutions.
“It’s a great way of turning your two car garage into a space that can fit three or four. It’s also a great way of keeping that sports car hidden from the wife! She’ll never know.”
Jokes aside – an underground pit can be a great way of keeping your prized possession safe. What better way of keeping it away from pesky burglars than not revealing that it’s there in the first place?
This can be taken a step further by matching the top of the lift to the surrounding flooring.
“When you customise the roof of the system, you even notice that it’s there unless you were looking for it – there’s usually just a very thin line around the top,” Terry explains.
On the flipside, maybe showing off is exactly what you want to do.
“We installed one of these for a bloke who had three platforms that dropped down from the ceiling of a garage. He could drive into his garage, reverse onto one of these platforms and lift his cars out of the way. When they were raised, they appeared behind a glass wall upstairs in a billiard room. It looked incredible and it was a really unique way for him to show off his collection to his mates.”
Then again, if all you’re looking for is a way of tucking your car into the corner of your garage, out of the way, Terry says a slider could be your best option.
“We install a lot of sliders into garages which have an alcove that isn’t easy to access. You drive onto a platform and then you can manually push the car, or use a remote control. It’s actually a very cost effective way of getting a car into a spot you otherwise wouldn’t be able to.”
If you find that getting into the garage in the first place is the frustration, maybe a turntable could be your best bet.
“A great solution is to use a turntable to rotate the car on its own axis. Our most popular one is 4.5m in diameter and has a 3 tonne capacity – that’s more than enough for even the largest four-wheel drive,” Terry says.
“Many garages lack the necessary space for turning a vehicle, which can cause the need to reverse into or out of the parking space. A turntable can provide the option of turning your vehicle on the spot, allowing you to leave the garage in forward gear.
“What’s more, the pin-gear drive mechanism ensures smooth, reliable operation with minimal wear and tear. This is key because a lot of turntables use a friction drive mechanism which much noisier and is subject to more maintenance issues.
“Because the turntable deck can be modified to match the surface treatment, they’re great for inside or out.”
So when you’re next looking at buying a house but you’re not sure if the garage will be able to accommodate all your vehicles, remember, you just have to think outside – or under – the box.
Hercules Carparking Systems
Car Stackers International