Design & Finishes

Costa Rica luxury garages and the cars that live there

Garages are becoming passion and entertainment spaces where owners can display their prized collections, receive friends and watch a football game while adjusting the setting on a bike. In Costa Rica, the trend among collectors and motor enthusiasts has led to the construction of specialized and detailed parking for antique cars, luxury garages with the latest technology, and complete home designs that revolve around the garage and vehicles.

In this article about luxury garages in Costa Rica:

Luxury Garage: A Controversial Investment

According to Esther Penrod, luxury real estate specialist, luxury garages are often not a sound financial investment. It’s difficult to recover the cost of this type of investment and although it may increase the perceived value of the house, it can also limit the number of customers interested in paying for that space. However, Esther notes that extraordinary garages can positively impact the selling effort of a luxury home in Costa Rica.

Luxury garages can add value to the house. A luxury garage tangibly impacts the numbers because it increases the total construction area in consideration, but more importantly, it can be a powerful marketing tool to differentiate from other properties for sale and capture the attention of potential buyers.

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Garage designed to maintain and enjoy American sports cars in Alajuela, Costa Rica.

The garage as an investment asset is an important consideration in the housing market. Saturation and growth in the center of Costa Rica has raised the cost of land with more limited parking spaces, even in luxury homes and buildings. Some urban developers have taken the opportunity to add equipment and technology in their luxury properties. Their business strategy builds on the perceived value of these garages and parking spaces, while other real estate projects minimize their parking areas to highlight a simpler lifestyle. 

Whatever your individual preference, no doubt that parking and the topic of a garage is already an important consideration in the process of selling or buying luxury your next luxury home.

According to Clari Vega, real estate agent at LX Costa Rica, when choosing a luxury property, customers have begun requesting that their homes have a closed garage and greater protection and privacy for their cars. They seek space for at least two or three cars, easy access to the service area, and in many cases an additional storage areafor hobby vehicles, such as bicycles, jet skis, kayaks, and ATVs.

We’ve had couples requesting at least four parking spaces because everyone has their own car, plus the service vehicle of the house and an extra space for visitors. We also get a lot of families with teenage or young adult children, and every person living in the property owns a car. This type of client tends to search for homes with four or five full parking spaces in the garage.

On the other hand, car collectors have a totally different mindset, states Vega.  

These clients look for a property with at least six covered parking spaces and tend to want to personalice their garage, not just for car parking but also for a combined business and entertainment area within sight of their vehicles. 

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Ferrari collector garage in Heredia, Costa Rica. Photo by Allan Mendoza.

A passion for engines

In Costa Rica there is a lot of interest in antique and modern cars. Here you can find important collections of motorcycles and cars of internationally renowned brands, stored in spaces that their owners have built and fitted out to enjoy them. These are spaces that require significant investment and effort, but the term “luxury” isn’t necessarily a good fit.

G.M. Traversone, an engine aficionado, assures that a good garage does not have to be fancy. The garage is not just the parking spot for a vehicle, it’s a space specially conditioned to learn, explore and enjoy. These are spaces meant to give the cars and luxury bikes the care and maintenance they require. In many cases, the workbench in the garage is the heart of this space.

Luxury garages are like a good shop, or like a gourmet kitchen. They can be nice, with added luxury, but at the end of the day the important thing is the ideal design and tools needed to work on and enjoy the vehicles.

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Partof a specially designed garage meant to focus on motorcycles and their engines, in Dolce Villa – Escazú.

Beyond convenience, there are also collections and garages built specifically as a showcase to visually enjoy the vehicles. They are places whose investment ranges from 50 million colones up to a million dollars and where the collector has been allowed to unleash their personal tastes and creativity around his passion for engines. These garages are spacious, 200 square meters and more, specially designed to frame the cars and motorbikes in the exact context that highlights its features. One feature that stands out is that these spaces have the seal or personality of the car that gave rise to the collection. Hence there garage vintage style, those of pure and elegant lines, while there are others quite modern. (see garage with a VINTAGE style).

Building a luxury garage in Costa Rica can take years. It’s a significant investment and preparing the right scenario takes time. It is also the only opportunity for the collector or car aficionado to capture the essence of their passion and communicate it to the world, so it’s not necessarily a quick process. To the contrary, many times the value for the owner is in the process, so stretching the timeline is not necessarily inconvenient.

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Garage with subterranean design for a sloped terrain incorporated in a contemporary home.

According to Fernando Vega, owner of Autocar in Costa Rica and a luxury car specialist, in this country there are significant car collections and also very interesting thematic garages. They are places that have been conditioned to the time period of the car collection. There are also highly attractive projects that are under construction. “Many of these luxury garages keep cars like forty year-old Ferraris and American sports cars of a particular period, such as Mustangs, Camaros, Chryslers, Ford pick ups or Chevrolet Apache and Jaguars of the golden age of European cars and Porsche, among many others, explains the entrepreneur.

In Costa Rica car collectors typically look to own several cars of a particular brand they follow. Hence, many invest in a special place for storage and condition these garage and parking areas to display and enjoy them. As for the range of luxuries and cost of these garages, really, the sky is the limit.

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Fernando Vega shows the LX team his impressive display of luxury vehicles at AutoCar in Escazú.

Garage design: views, continuity and transparency

Adrián Jirón is an architect of an ongoing luxury private garage project in Costa Rica, a luxury home built around a garage where close to 60% of the total area is meant for the garage. According to the architect, this project is an excellent opportunity to combine architecture and professional car design. He explains that the style of the garage and home combines modern architecture with contemporary accent. (see additional detail in modern and elegant)

This design is not intended to address a particular trend or time period, but rather it seeks timelessness so the residence remains appealing with the passing of the years. In fact, modern architecture is meant to be just as timeless as the timeless car designs.

As for the details in architectural design, the architect highlights that beyond the functional area for vehicles and people, we’re looking for the continuity of spaces, transparency, maximum use of the land and the best views. As you enter the residence, the design slowly reveals its personality and particular integrated and flexible characteristics. The architect says that it’s important to consider the maintenance and care of the vehicles in this type of project, especially taking into account the weather: sunlight, humidity and wind (dust).

We must ensure that the temperature of the space inhabited by these cars is very stable in all seasons and avoid the existence of conditions that degrade the materials they are built with. For example, special attention must be given to the window frame technology, eaves, the natural ventilation design, the location of the residence at the site. Everything must be consistent with our tropical climate for the building to be successful in its mission to be the proper home of these cars.

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Simple, elegant, and spectacularly crafted garage at The Wood House in Santa Ana, Costa Rica, by the arquitect Joan Puigcorbé. – photo by Jordi Miralles

Vintage-style luxury garages in Costa Rica

José Peraza is an automotive entrepreneur whose specialty is restoring cars. His passion for cars stems from his childhood. A frustrated architect, he revels in anything that has to do with aesthetics and creativity. It’s no wonder that his vintage-style garage is an iconic place in Costa Rica and a very impressive and detailed home for the majestic cars that live there.

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With an irrefutabl vintage style, Mr. Peraza enjoys the perfect place to live his passion. – Photo by Dwight Avaloz Fotografía.

The dazzling garage is located within his restoration workshop and spans more than 300 square meters. It is a place set in the 1960s with a parking area specially decorated according to that decade and a meticulously decorated social area which includes pool table, bar and grill. All the accessories were chosen individually throughout the years by the owner.

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A luxury garage made to the exact specification of the cars that live there. – Photo by Dwight Avaloz Fotografía.

This collector is passionate about old and antique cars, especially two-doors because they are rarer and their aesthetic is different. Between current projects and his personal restoration projects Mr. Peraza may have more than a dozen vehicles at any given time, some stored in the shop, others in the luxury garage.

Mr. Peraza began restoring cars of the 3190s, then grew his collection ot include 1960s sports cars.

The cars that interest me are those that lend themselves to personalization and that the market will pay for. In other words, to restore not just to avoid loosing value, but to increase value over time. We’re talking about cars from 1932 to 1969, and a few older ones.

Mr. Peraza has restored mainly Fords and Chevrolets. These vehicles also have an additional feature: availability of spare parts. That detail gives greater value to the car, he says. Nevertheless, he has made some exceptions with antique cars with other brands including Oldsmobile, Cadillac and Buick, whose parts are scarce but he has chosen to include in his collection due to their particular and interesting automotive parts. 

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An entertainment area is a cornerstone of this vintage garage in San José, Costa Rica. – Photo by Dwight Avaloz Fotografía.

In the end, I wanted a place that I could enjoy but that would also lend itself to some creative work. And this was the concept that won. Now, since it has a large social area, we often use it for family events as well.

The weather, temperature and humidity weren’t a problem for building the garage.  But, since the space had open areas he found that if it remained open there would always be a lot of dust, and dust is not something you want around antique restored cars.  You have to have a routine for washing and maintaining the cars, even in a sealed garage.

Regarding mechanical details, Peraza explains that the cars need an oil change every six months, because this is contaminated by non-use. He also makes sure to move them and rotate them, often driving them out himself. In fact, all the cars that are in operating condition have full paperwork and meet requirements for road driving in Costa Rica.

With regard to care, Peraza states that he always tries to use use Meguiars products that are available now in Costa Rica and he considers ithe best option to maintain and beautify the body of their cars. This brand has certified quality. “My mentality is that when there are good products you should try to use them,” he states.

When asked which luxury he has in his garage, José Peraza responds that his is a sentimental luxury.  He purchased a rare gasoline pump from the 1920s that has a lot of sentimental value for him.

I think this fuel pump is the only one in Costa Rica. I wanted to leave the fuel pump in the state in which I found it because it contributes to the time and feel of the garage. Very vintage.

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Fuel pump from the 1920s, the perfect accesory for this garage. – photo by Dwight Avaloz Fotografía.

Peraza states he doesn’t have a favorite car. For Peraza ,each car he restores immediately begs the question of what could’ve been done better, because the end result of the restoration always has to be better than the previous. So, he sasy that keeps him from having favorites. But, he does admit, his passion is vintage. I like the old because it has personality and identity, says the owner of this luxury garage.

Modern and elegant – variety

The collection of Mr. Montenegro is modern and elegant. A hallmark of the German brand Porsche. The owner of this sample is a Costa Rican executive who recently decided to start a big personal project: his own luxury garage (see designing a luxury garage).

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From a collection of miniature replicas to an elegant and modern Porsche collection.

Mr. Montenegro’s passion for cars began in his teenage years. At that age he started a collection of cars that he still preserves and currently boasts over one thousand pieces. The peculiarity of his collection is that they are model cars, incredible scale replica cars . Over the years, he became more and more interested in car collecting until he found a passion for the Porsche 911, which he now owns in full scale as well. 

Mr. Montenegro lived for a long period in Argentina and to return to the country nearly four years ago, he saw the need for a place to store his collection. When I pulled away and my family stayed in the house where we lived, we came the idea of ​​building a property, but with a different label … where the garage was the priority of the design and that’s what I’m doing now.

The residential project will give the garage more than 50% of the total project area. On the ground floor will be the luxury garage, while the street entrance will be on the second level. It will include a bar and an exhibition area, where a rotating display will showcase one of the cars indefinitely. 

In one area there will also be an elevator to lift the cars, but that is mostly for the workshop. It will also have a garden, where the goal is that garage can easily blend as an entertaining area.

This luxury garage will be a space with lots of light and glass. The floor will be darker to enhance the brightness and color tones. It will also feature a glass bridge so the cars are visible from the bedroom.

The garage will have very high walls to display the scale car collection.  I hope to have some artwork by a well-known Costa Rican paintor I have asked to create some paintings of the Porsche automobiles – not just any Porsche, but specific characteristics..

En relación a la temperatura ambiente, Montenegro explica que utilizarán el manejo de fluidos de aire natural, pero con cierto sistema de refrigeración. Más que por temperatura necesitamos controlar polvo. Y esto no es tanto por los carros grandes, ya que van a estar tapados, sino por los vehículos pequeños a escala, advierte. El ejecutivo menciona que para limpiar los carros de su colección de Porsche utiliza productos de una marca americana (Meguiars), ya que con ellos se logra mayor luminosidad y hermetismo.

Before knowing about these products we cleaned the cars with soap, which should not be done because it is highly abrasive. It’s funny, but the process of cleaning a car is similar to what women use to clean their skin. The steps are washing, cleaning, polishing, protection and maintenance, and the quality of the products has a significant impact on the outcome and durability..

The value of a garage is associated with the total value of the house. Each square meter is tied to the property and therefore its cost could reach a significant amount. Surely if you were to store my vehicles in a warehouse it would be cheaper, but I think the cars are meant to be enjoyed, he says. The project of building this luxury garage definitely goes hand in hand with a hip modern life, similar to the personality of the cars that will live here, the Porsche, a car with pure and elegant lines. That will be the essence I hope the garage captures and portrays.

Our conclusion, the garage is an extension of the personality and passion of each person and family. Like the rest of the house, it’s a space that you can prepare and highlight to enjoy or just blend into the background as a functional and practical space. In Costa Rica there are luxury homes with the capacity to accommodate 20 or more vehicles, and other extraordinary and high-value homes where you can barely get a single medium-sized car into the garage. It all depends on how you choose to express your interests within the home?

VIDEO: luxury garages in Costa Rica

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