Editor’s note: Paul E. Grech owned the former San Franciso shop, Allied Engine & Auto Repair, before retiring. In this column series, Grech shares his experiences as a shop owner.
I had many long time customers during my many years at Allied.
One was a woman who had a 1988 Dodge Daytona. She was my customer for more than 12 years until she moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles. She maintained her car very well during those years.
One day out of curiosity I asked her why she had a deep attachment to her car. She said that her father had given it to her just after she had graduated from law school and he died shortly after. Once, she called me up and said that she was going to buy a new car and would I find an automotive student she could donate her car to. She knew I was involved with the local college automotive program and I mentored students.
I thought about it for a couple of days and called her back with a better idea.
I told her if she gave the car to a student it would probably be wrecked or dismantled in a very short period of time. I said it would be better if she sold the car and use that money to buy some specialized hand tools that the school didn’t have because they were too expensive to buy.
Those tools were needed to work on the tighter engine compartments of newer cars, and included quarter-inch universal sockets, extensions, rackets, screwdrivers, long needle nose pliers, among others. The universal sockets were approximately $41 each and one would need about 40 different ones to work on a vehicle engine at the time, but the school received steep discounts.
So she took my advice and I sold the car for $2,000 and was able to purchase $4,000 worth of Snap-on specialized hand tools.
We were invited to the school for a photo for its newspaper and they expressed their gratitude for her generous donation. She soon brought a new $60,000 Lexus sports car and asked me to show her how to use all the accessories. She had also mentioned she had never been to Yosemite National Park, so I arranged for her, her mother, and my wife to go on a day trip to Yosemite to show her how to operate the car properly. It was certainly one of the high points of my time at Allied Engine.
Next months topic will be how nice it was to have a “Man Friday” to hang around, road test cars, run errands, and pick up and deliver customers.