Nowadays, a dealer gets to hear from the importer exactly what his business should look like - of course at a high-profile location or business site -, what the lighting should be, what software updates he should purchase. What he has to sell to cars (or motorcycles) in the current year and what garage-related things such as clothing he has to sell. We know nothing about the color of the towels in the toilet room. We think it is quite challenging to be a brand dealer in these times. Certainly if the vehicles in the showroom are pantingly offered as "the perfect platform for your smartphone".
Visible. And bound to all kinds of rules
A modern garage is therefore located at a high-profile location along a main road or on an industrial estate that is now naturally called an 'industrial park'. That is a matter of zoning plans, nuisance to local residents and the environment. In itself meaningful things. Yet?
From childhood we remember it differently
And AMK reader Hans Vingerling gave us a perfect handle for those memories. His father Kees Vingerling had his own garage company at the Kennemerstraatweg 1947 in Heiloo in the period 1951 - 95. Frans Speur, now living in Canda, has set up a site about what Heiloo looked like at the time. His collection of photos started with a collection of postcards. But back to Kees Vingerling: Kees Vingerling was a dealer of Renault and, among other things, Jawa motorcycles. And that was at the time that the dealer was still boss in his own house and went to pick up an ordered car from the importer himself. He took care of his public relations by participating in the flower parade. And because there was no internet yet, that approach was apparently sufficient to run a healthy company. After all, did people buy locally?
In the time after the Second World War, not everyone was ready for a car. Cars were for the happy few. But even with a Jawa you were completely the man. At the time, Jawa was a world-leading, reliable and highly modern brand, an engine on which you could be seen.
Being a garage mechanic was a craft
It was also the time that a garage was literally close to people and the mechanics were real 'mechanics'. Cars and motorcycles were mechanical things. Machines. Simple machines. The drum brakes were hydraulically operated and the brake linings were rich in asbestos. After an incubation period of thirty years, technicians often had problems with this. The other wetness was the cooling water. When replacing it (antifreeze in winter), the cooling water was released above the floor drain. Just like the engine oil. Electronics? That phenomenon did not even exist. Electricity lived in a six-volt battery that the DC dynamo generally had a hard enough time with.
It was also the time when cars needed a small service every 2500 kilometers and the general approach was that an engine block needed an overhaul after 100.000 km. Before that, the clutch had often been replaced twice. And gearboxes often had to take apart because the synchromesh rings were worn out. For thrifty people, 'double clutching' - double beating - was a suitable solution there.
And where more than 80% of vehicle malfunctions are now electronic, things used to simply fail mechanically. Water pumps, (wheel) bearings, starter motors, engine blocks and gearboxes, radiators. And everything was repaired, overhauled. A dented piece of sheet metal? That was dented and tightened again. Mechanics and metal were the best friends.
A dying species
That kind of small, often 'universal' garages in historically grown locations where you could actually go with any brand and every fault is now dying out very quickly. This is due to the aging population, lack of succession, occupant and environmental requirements, zoning plans and the increasingly heavy financial municipal and software costs. That disappearance is a practical and emotional lack.
Call for the next round
Fortunately, traditional craftsmanship has not yet disappeared. It is cherished by specialists. As classic lovers, we still reap the benefits. Because if old-fashioned craftsmanship is combined with modern technology and material knowledge, our classic car can become a better car. A reconditioned engine block can be better than it came from the factory. For many problems of the past, more modern alternatives have come up that do little or no harm to the authenticity of our classic.
If you still have old garage photos, we would appreciate it if you would like to share them.