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This Nebraska Garage is Packed with Cool Cars and an In-Floor Heating System

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 11/13/2017 Hot Rod Network Staff

Howard Toelle lives in Omaha, Nebraska. The house he and his wife, Dottie, previously owned was equipped with a basic 2-car garage, and Howard added on to it, increasing its capacity to store more than six cars. "The ceiling wasn't high enough to install a lift so I added a pit in the floor instead," he said. "After a while we found that we needed more garage space, so in 2001 we decided to move."

The Toelles designed their own custom-built home and construction began shortly after. Howard knew this was his chance to build the garage he'd always wanted. Not only did he plan for an attached garage measuring 1,100 sq-ft, he also added a freestanding building that measured 1,800 sq-ft. "I wanted to extra space for my hobbies and went as large as the neighborhood covenants would allow for a detached garage," he added.

Howard quickly filled his new garage with cars and equipment, but the 30 x 60-foot structure also includes several amenities of a well-equipped home. It's practically ready to be lived in, and he and Dottie did exactly that for three months in 2002 while their new home was being finished just a few feet away. Today, Howard's detached garage serves as his office, includes a couch and recliners for lounging and recreating, boasts plenty of capacity for his vehicles and other projects, and hosts friends.

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In 1989, Howard purchased his dream car—a 1966 Pontiac GTO. Its frame-off restoration was completed in 1992. The Burgundy beauty is equipped with a 389-ci V8, Tri-Power induction, and a four-speed manual transmission. It's capable of turning quarter mile elapsed times in the low-14 second range on street tires.


The 1932 Chevy 2-door sedan was purchased in 1976. The former hay sweep vehicle remained in storage for 26 years before it became Howard's newest project in 2002. Al and Glen Boege of Auto Craft Inc. in Omaha, Nebraska created a custom-built frame and added suicide doors to the all-steel body. The drivetrain consists of a 350-ci Ram Jet V8 with fuel injection from GM Performance, a 700R-4 automatic transmission, and a 9-inch Ford rear axle.


New technology appeals to Howard as much as vintage iron. He purchased this 2016 Corvette Z06 new that model year. It's equipped with the supercharged 6.2L LT4 V8 that's rated at 650 hp and 650 lb-ft. The 8-speed automatic transmission delivers consistent on-track performance and makes the Corvette Racing Yellow Tintcoat coupe ideal for cruising.


Howard's first vehicle was a 1962 Chevy Impala. This recently-acquired example was purchased in 2017 as a throwback to his youth. It's powered by a 300 hp 327-ci small block and backed by a four-speed manual transmission.


The lone Mopar is Howard's stable is this 1970 Plymouth GTX. He purchased it in 2001 and started its restoration shortly after. Other projects took precedence, which ultimately delayed its completion until 2014. It's equipped with a 440-ci Six Barrel,, four-speed manual transmission with pistol-grip shifter, and Dana 60 rear axle with 4.10:1 gearing.


While one might assume that Howard fancies four-wheel vehicles only, this 2000 Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide motorcycle that he purchased new proves otherwise.


The garage walls are constructed of insulated concrete forms. The Reward Wall System consists of poured concrete that measures 6-inch thick that's surrounded on either side by 2-inch thick foam panels. In addition to its very high strength, the air-tight design is also extremely thermal-efficient. That combination keeps Howard's collectibles safe from natural disasters and effectively maintains a climate-controlled environment.


A Carrier central air conditioning unit is located in the attic. It also includes a natural gas furnace that serves as a backup to the in-floor heating system. A whole-house fan is used to exhaust the structure while welding and a radon mitigation system improves air quality. The HVAC system, in-floor heating, and complete security system are maintained by a DDC controller from Control Systems International. Howard is able to review statuses and make adjustments from a PC or mobile device.


The poured-concrete sidewalls produce a garage structure that's very sturdy and requires no floor-to-ceiling supports. The large I-beam on the ceiling serves as a lifting point for a sliding electric winch that Howard uses for moving heavy equipment or pulling engines.


The garage area is well illuminated by a total of 16 florescent light fixtures that each house two 110-watt bulbs in 8-foot length.


Howard applied the Maxtech polyamide epoxy floor coating by hand using a roller. It has held up quite well over the years.


The Coleman Powermate air compressor features a 6.5 hp motor and 60-gallon tank. An 80-gallon auxiliary tank serves as added capacity. Copper tubing delivers compressed air throughout the shop. It's even plumbed to the attached garage on Howard's house.


On the far wall is Howard's desk for his garage-based office. In the corner is a half-bath complete with full size shower.


Whenever Howard needs to unwind after a long day or chooses to entertain friends, a full-size refrigerator holds a keg of beer, and the tap peering through delivers ice-cold beverages to thirsty adults.


A 2-post Rotary lift with 9,000-pound capacity makes easy work of under-vehicle repairs. Howard has another 2-post lift as well as a 4-post lift in his attached garage.


Howard's hand tools are safely stored in a Waterloo Traxx tool cabinet.


A Victor oxy-acetylene torch, Hypertherm Plasma Cutter, Miller 110-volt MIG welder, and HTP Invertig 200-amp AC/DC welder makes metal fabrication a chinch.


An Excel 2-ton engine hoist is handy for plucking engines and a CATIC half-ton transmission jack allows Howard to remove gearboxes whenever the need arises.


A large HO-scale road course built from slot car track keeps Howard and his grandchildren busy. It folds against the wall for compact storage when not in use.


Howard is presently building an HO-scale quarter-mile drag strip that uses slot car track. Trap speeds are expected to exceed a true speed of 100 mph. The setup is suspended from the ceiling and is easily raised and lowered as needed.


A vintage Atari Centipede upright arcade game entertains garage guests of all ages.


On the walls hangs Howard's life memories and flags from the countries that he and Dottie have visited over the years.


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