I was watching my boys play cars in my home office/man-room. Wooden blocks encircled a pool of "hot lava" and a section of Hot Wheels track served as a single bridge across the chasm. If a car was light and fast enough it would make it across. If it was slow and heavy it would fall into the fiery pit and many screams would ensue.
I watched this for a good 20 minutes, enough time to notice more than half of the cars had failed to cross the canyon. I suggested we beef up the bridge, maybe put a ramp in the middle for effect. You would have thought I asked them to eat plate of raw liver.
"No Dad... that's dumb."
"These guys won't make it 'cause their cars are too big and slow. This is real, Dad. This is real life."
I'm certain there is profound subtext buried within, a microcosm of sorts. I'm not going there. I did, however, think of an interesting idea.
We need a Survivor-type show about cars. Use the same Survivor model but use cars instead. I can't help but wonder what type of car would win. Most likely an all-wheel-drive rig with some sort of active suspension to both clear obstacles and travel at high speeds. It would also need a highly efficient engine, most likely some sort of turbodiesel. HID lighting, navigation systems, traction control... yeah, it would need all this stuff too. I'm not suggesting we build a Richard Hatch-the world has enough assholes-but you get the concept.
On the recent Bullrun Rally, there were two cars that stood out among the sea of Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Porsches: an Audi Q7 and a supercharged Range Rover. Although I lost track of the Audi, the Land Rover shadowed us for 1,200 miles. Given the brisk pace set by our Brabus CLS, this was a near miraculous feat.
A few weeks ago Deputy Editor Funke and I took a Range Rover SC up north, just a few miles south of BMW guru Steve Dinan's Morgan Hill facility. The Range Rover is a powerful, ultra-luxurious vehicle and proved to be a great long-distance touring machine. What's amazing is that the Range Rover is a hugely capable off-road vehicle as well. How many other cars can forge through four feet of water and then tackle a 60-degree incline? I have a huge respect for cars like the Range Rover and Audi Q7. They wear many hats and wear them well.
On the flipside there's the supercharged Dinan M3, a car that is designed solely for street use. Here the Dinan M3 rules supreme. I would wager a week's earnings that this is the most comfortable and capable M3 in the world. It's obvious Dinan is meticulous in his research and design. Shock dynos are a rarity, but Dinan has both a shock dyno and a bump-stop dyno. What kind of uber-geek has a bump-stop dyno? He purchased every BMW bump stop ever made and tested each one. The end result translates into BMW performance second to none.
This issue also includes a bit we call Garage Mahal, a feature on a high-end man-room/playground/garage for car guys. I too have built a man-room and its effect on my well being has been tangible. Let me explain.
I'd had more than a few home offices commandeered, watching in anguish as bassinets and Barney videos supplanted computers and camera collections. All my "stuff" sat in plastic Tupperware cases awaiting a final resting place. People don't realize how men suffer for children. I suppose I've "suffered" more than most. Yes, I have many children and the number seems to be growing. We just picked up a pair of feral kids from down the street (they spend more time with us than their own family, anyway). I blame this job for such blessings. I'd be on the road for weeks at a time; upon my return the wife would bear the brunt of my affection.
Last year I drew a line in the sand, a promise to myself that I would create my own little retreat, a man-room if you will. My brother-in-law drew the plans, a buddy laid the foundation and I framed, roofed and did the finish work (most of it anyway). Measuring 600 square feet with an open-air ceiling and dual Velux skylights, this space is mine and mine alone. My man-room was designed with sizable double doors on the back wall that open up into the garage. The glass-enclosed bookcases and display cabinets are Ikea units, stuff that looks great and fit my meager budget. I have learned that once you've assembled the Ikea products, don't move them. Ever. I can sit at my Bif Korea desk (got it at a dot-com fire sale), stare at the M3 and plan my next project. Yesterday marked the official completion of the Bidrawn man-room as I put the last switch plate on the wall. All told, I spent some $14K on the finished product. Given the utter joy I've derived from the project, it's worth many times that amount.
Recently I've been invited to several man-room parties. Most of them are much more grand in scale, including Jay Leno's Garage Mahal in Burbank. However, the premise is the same. Everyone should have a man-room. It should be a rule or something.
If you have a high-end man-room/Garage Mahal I'd love to see it. We can play cars and shirk responsibility. At least for an hour or two.