Vintage Car Mechanics

Need to find a mechanic in the Arlington, VA/Metropolitan Washington, DC area who can repair/service my 1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

The only thing “Vintage” about your Monte is the carburetor…Other than that, anyone who calls himself a mechanic should be able to service your car…Does it have any specific problems?

If you want someone who can fix a carburetor problem, look for a mechanic in his 50s or 60s with a cig hanging out of his mouth and beer on his breath from his liquid lunch.

Many years ago there was an old school shop that had an old festering drunken owner and some rough mechanics, they all had alcoholic attitudes so if you went in with beer for them they would often do things for free or at a reduced rate. A case of beer would get brake shoes relined. A case of beer and a 20 dollar bill would get a quadra jet rebuilt and tuned.

Any money they made they spend on smokes, beer and dirty women, so they figured why not just be paid in beer.

Now not one of them drove after drinking (at least with the beer I paid them with). The owner lived in a house on site, and the dirty old mechanic lived in an rv on the property.

They would not test drive vehicles which is good because they were often drunk at work, you would go to pick it up and charlie would tell you " Go run that sum b$t&h down the road and see how it works for ya."

If you came back with a problem he would start belittling the mechanic and call him all sorts of expletives, and the mechanic would usually fire some back. There was one time a customer came back after a brake job with a grinding noise and the mechanic told him the pads needed “broke in”. The customer came back later that day and the mechanic begrudging looked pulled off the wheel to discover a brake pad was installed backward!! The owner was the one who did the brake job!!! The mechanic called the owner a “stupid old drunk ^&*&s&^^%%” and fixed the problem.

I mean you would show up here and the mechanic would be working on a car while drinking a beer… People went there because they were cheap and would do things suck as pinch off brake lines and bypass emission control devices.

Yes im serious.

The shop is long gone. Once the Epa got after the owner to remove old leaking fuel tanks from the ground it was over. Definately a good thing.

@WheresRick‌ when I was a kid in high school my first job (around 1985) was at a Chevron station. Always busy, nice part of town, very clean, 3 top-notch mechanics and the place was busy 7 days a week. And the owner was a drinker. Always had cold beer in the office. On very busy days he’s come out and ask the guys if they minded working through lunch. They’d get a little overtime and he’d buy all of us lunch to eat while we worked. So off he’d go and come back with a half-dozen sandwiches, 2 bags of chips and a half-case of beer. He only brought back 12 beers for 5 guys so no one would get drunk during working hours. And he didn’t care that I was only 16. He figured I worked so I got mine too.

Love the comments, but does anyone have a specific mechanic recommendation/referral through personal experience?

Have you checked the Mechanics Files section at the top of this board?

Yes. Am familiar with many of the repair shops. Have taken the car to a couple of them in the past, with mixed results. I thought this discussion forum would be a good place to get current, unvarnished, upfront testimonials/referrals.

The next place to ask would be at the counter of your local NAPA parts store. They can frequently refer you towards the type of mechanic you are looking for…Sometimes this might be someone who works out of a garage behind his house, but that’s okay…

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a post recommending a specific mechanic or shop here. And if there was, how would you know it wasn’t the mechanic or shop doing the posting? The best way to find a good local mechanic is to ask your current shop, friends, co-worker, fellow church goers who they use for older cars. For a 1978 Chevy it shouldn’t be hard to find someone. 1928, yes, difficult. 1978, no, not difficult. I presume the OP has already tried asking their current shop, friends, co-workers. Next up, the OP should follow the advice in the posts above. Especially asking at the most popular local (NAPA is a good bet, but not big national chain) parts stores. I expect a good mechanic with the proper knowledge will be found.


What seems to be the problem with the Monte Carlo?

Most of us ‘vintage’ mechanics are familiar with vintage cars. Several of the countermen at local parts stores refer carburetor work to me and if the car owner is not in a rush I rebuild most any domestic carburetor even Marvel Schleblers and Tillotsons. As @Caddyman suggested, checking with a local parts store might result in finding a ‘vintage’ mechanic, @CK1 autochick.

They’re not vintage to us. They’re just the cars we grew up with.
Vintage are the cars our parents grew up with…

Gall darn it I would make a road trip and fix minimal stuff for $600 plus parts. I am sure if you go to the car shows etc. you will find a better deal. If you want to get your hands dirty tell us the problem

Yeah, I’m on the “what’s wrong with it?” track. It might be something that even a 16 year old in training could fix.

There’s nothing wrong with it.

I want to make sure it continues to be properly maintained. The one mechanic who used to do this work retired years ago from the Chevy dealership where we bought it in 1978. Since his retirement, our experience has been so-so.

I’m simply looking for a reliable mechanic I can trust will not overcharge for any necessary work or do work that doesn’t need to be done. GREAT ideas for potential resources – local car shows and NAPA parts departments.

Thank you!

CK1 you should know this…The only two things on your car that are not standard issue stuff are the carburetor and the HEI ignition system. Both of these things were used on every GM car built between 1975 and 1980…The carburetors go back to the early 1960’s. They are not complex or difficult and they were both very reliable and inexpensive to keep operating properly. There are still MANY mechanics who are comfortable working on these cars and all the parts are still readily available…But nothing lasts forever…

I’m with the ‘‘ask the parts store’’ crew here ( Napa, Autozone, O’Reilley, CarQuest. ) Even so far as to ask the parts people at the chevy dealer. many of the old school techs have become frustrated with the new fangled computerized stuff and have either quit completely, quit and are doing indy work , or are hiding in the shop…look for gray haired techs cursing at the computer, or even right behind that parts counter you’re going to. And don’t shy away from asking the gilrs at these places, most are in this business by choice …you may find ‘‘oh, my dad was at the GM garage all his years and I used to help him’’ she’ll say.

as an old school parts man, I can name names in that manner in this town.

“look for gray haired techs cursing at the computer.”

That’s slightly unfair, I would say

There are plenty of veteran mechanics out there who have not had any problems adjusting to and keeping up with new technology

well, I speak from first hand experience.
I’ll qualify that to the pc…’‘in my shop, look for the gray haired guys cursing at the computer.’’

I’ve also seen some veteran mechanics who couldn’t . . . or chose not to . . . keep up with changing technology

But I’ve also seen my fair share who were just as up to date as the young whipper snappers