The girl who loved her auto mechanic

Just over a year ago I wrote a blog that included a song of praise to my auto mechanics, Pete and Maurizio. (Go here to have a look — it’s in the second half of the piece.) They run a humble little auto repair business in Toronto’s Riverdale area, and even though all of their business is through word of mouth they are so busy that it can take a few days to get in to see them. They are friendly, super-honest, and matter-of-fact, the kind of guys you’d trust with your life, never mind your car and your wallet.

And today I’m feeling the love once again, in spades.

I took my car in to have the front brakes done and the snow tires taken off (guaranteeing a blizzard here in Toronto tomorrow… sorry, everyone…), and pulled into their humble front lot to see a breathtakingly beautiful 1957 Chevy Bel Air parked in a place of honour just outside the front door.

Oh, baby.

Serendipitously, I was playing “1957” by Buck 65 on my own car stereo when I pulled in; sometimes these things just happen and they amaze me.

Anyway, this particular 1957 is red and white, shiny as a new penny, and there’s a sign on the dash that says “Don’t touch this car unless you are NUDE”, explaining that zippers and buttons can badly scratch a baby like that.

There was a palpable air of excitement at the garage — and who can blame them? The young car jockeys were finding any excuse to just take the long way around for another look, and the young fellow I talked with as I leaned carefully in for a look told me how surprisingly easy they are to fix (no computer parts) and to find parts for.

I was so dazzled, I guess, that I totally forgot to take a picture of the thing to put on Facebook (I may be a Smiter but I’m no Luddite!), and I would have kicked myself all the way home if it had not been such a beautiful morning. The birds were singing their hearts out, all fat and colourful along the rooftops. I stopped for a while to watch a crew of guys in a cherry picker limbing a tree and said hi to a crossing guard with a lovely smile; if I had kids, I’d trust them with this guy.

Back home, waiting for my car to be done, I spent some time writing; I also downed tools and spent a bit of time watching a huge truck dropping off a new dumpster at our building and carting the old one away. The roof on our building is being replaced, and if you can get over the noise and dirt, the machines and processes involved are fascinating — in the case of the dumpster truck, huge metal tracks, hydraulics, and a huge hook on a steel cable, not to mention the skill the driver needs to line up the butt end of a massive diesel truck with a hulking metal box.

Then, to my delight, when I went back over to the garage about an hour ago, the Chevy was still there, and there were still guys circling around ogling it in a manly, giddy sort of way, and there was still a cluster of guys at the counter talking shop. I joined right in — I drive stickshift and I love machines (see above!) and therefore have a bit of “street cred”, or so I think.

Pete says the car actually belongs to his cousin, and he’s taking his time with it because he just loves to work on it — he absolutely loves cars and machines, and he was getting kinda mooshy about this one, and this is just one of the reasons I love him. Also, he loves having it parked there because people stop by, which he loves — he doesn’t need more business, as I said; he just loves cars, and loves the people who love them.

Anyway, we all had a good chat, and I picked up some tips, among them: don’t gear down to slow the car — it wears out the clutch, which is more expensive than brakes to replace because you have to remove the transmission. Oh, and I’ll need new tires in the fall, and Pete will set me up for a good price — just let him know.

I paid my bill (the price was exactly what he said it would be — there are never any surprises or ripoffs with my guys), took a last wistful tour around the Bel Air, and then climbed into my own humble car, cranked up “1957” on the stereo, and drove home with that lovely sense of well-being that comes of a gorgeous spring day spent among good men, good machines, and beautiful, beautiful cars.

Everything was red today, even the birds!

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