If there’s one thing that European cars encompass, it’s tradition. We found this great video about an original European car repair shop in New York. If you’re looking for Volkswagen Repair Nashville, don’t forget to check out GPO Tuning and give us a call at (615) 392-5498.
Santo Spadaro: You always knew that you were on the clock when you walked into the door. So Dominick would give you maybe 10 or 15 minutes of attention. Like us, he was a hands-on kind of guy, and he was a one-man band. So there was no barbershop. When somebody walked in, say your piece, and then leave, ’cause I have to get back to work. When somebody comes in nowadays, a lot of what I do is kind of what like a bartender would do.
Santo Spadaro: My name is Santo Spadaro, and I am co-owner of Dominick European Car Repair, a small little garage my father started in 1961.
Frank Spadaro: We work on, today, more of the old exotics, which when I grew up they were everyday cars, and we still enjoy driving them, working on them, looking at them.
Venera Spadaro: My name is Venera Spadaro, and my two brothers own Dominick’s European Car Repair. Frank and Santo, I am their sister and the oldest of the three.
Santo Spadaro: My dad came from Depression-era Sicily. You really had to focus on earning your bread, so this whole advocation or just for fun, or pastime, didn’t exist.
Venera Spadaro: He trained as an apprentice at a local garage after leaving his third-grade education, and four years later opened his own little shop behind my grandmother’s home. Had an apprentice staff of six, and he met my mom.
Venera Spadaro: My mom was just leaving for the United States. They were engaged, she went back to marry him in 1953, came here, he started to work at International Motors, and you have to understand that the only cars that he did see at the time were Fiats.
Santo Spadaro: So famously, one of the first jobs my father received at International Motors when he came here was an XK120 that never ran correctly. New car. The boss tells my father, “Dominick, see what you can do with this car.” So dad spent a good day going through the cam timing, the valve adjustment, the points plugs, tuning the carburetors. Shop foreman drove it, and came back and said, “Dominick, you’ve worked on these cars before?” And Dad said, “I’ve never seen a car like this in my life. I’m from Sicily, where am I gonna see an XK120?”
Venera Spadaro: He came to the United States as a third grade educated man who learned his apprenticeship with another master mechanic, opened up his own shop, came here, worked four years, and opened up down the street at 170 Ferris in 1961, and then moved here in 1975. And we’ve been here since.
Frank Spadaro: So parts started from ’61 ’til we moved into the shop in ’75. So, he brought engines from Jaguars, Alphas, transmissions from basically the same kinda cars, Lancias, and little by little we built shelves, and they went on shelves, and they grew into a monstrosity of parts. An organized mess. If you say, “I want this head,” we know where to find that head. Without those cars, honestly, sometimes it’ll take us weeks to find a part that we would have downstairs.
Santo Spadaro: I’ve never really had any formal training as far as shop class, technical institute. This is, it’s all Dominick. So when I was a kid, my job was to hold my dad’s light. Dad never gave me a formal, “Santo, this is how this is done,” he would always be working and expecting me to absorb the steps and as he was getting to a 10 millimeter bolt off, I would anticipate that and hand him the 10-millimeter wrench. So my head’s always in the game.
Frank Spadaro: Summertime, dad would wake me up and say, “Okay, we’re going to work today,” and I’d be here from morning to night cleaning up, putting away bolts, make up little tools that he would think keep me amused.
Santo Spadaro: My dad was certainly of the old world in the respect that he saw women in certain situations and not others, and certainly a greasy garage wasn’t one of those situations.
Venera Spadaro: We were not allowed in the garage as women, okay? My mom never came, I never came. My brothers, on the other hand, they were introduced to the garage very, very early. Frank came to the business first, Santo said, “Okay, I’m gonna try the finance career.”
Santo Spadaro: I always had the mentality that I would be coming here full time, eventually, and I kinda wormed my way in, and here I am today.
Venera Spadaro: Up until three years ago when the car market exploded, these small cars were their daily drivers in many cases, not their hobby cars, not their cars in a collection, and that’s how you start a base of people who actually treasure their $5,000 investment. Dad was very old school. My brothers have brought the old school to today, melded the two, and made their skill level on par with dad. It took many a year to develop the kind of relationship that we have with our clients.
Santo Spadaro: Dad had a huge stroke in 1995, he didn’t even know he had a garage anymore, let alone … He didn’t even know he was a mechanic at that point. We got him out of rehab and got him home, and then got him strong enough that he could come back to the shop.
Venera Spadaro: So one of us would pick him up in the morning, bring him, he would fiddle in the machine room.
Santo Spadaro: Within a few weeks he was building a transmission again. Whereas like a month or two ago they said, “Well, he’ll be lucky if he can dress himself,” but the best therapy was the focus of the garage.
Venera Spadaro: He was 87 years old at that time. He actually kinda welcomed the fact that I was here, he was seeing that he was getting older and maybe thought that seeing his two sons and now joined by his daughter was not such a bad thing. Dad died in 89, the wake was overwhelming. There were so many people, and these were clients. Everyone was so, so taken aback, so sad, because up until two days before he died, at 89, he was here in the garage.
Santo Spadaro: We have a few of my dad’s cars that we still own, including this 1961 Lancia Flaminia Touring Coupe. It’s an all aluminum body; we bought the car from Sergio Franchi, the singer famous for [Valari 00:08:17].
Frank Spadaro: We were doing an engine rebuild for him, and part of the payment for the engine rebuild was buying this car here.
Santo Spadaro: It’s a push-rod V6, the lineage is from the Aurelia, which is the world’s first production V6. It was an engine that was designed to go 100,000 miles without the major service. It’s a low-revving, reasonable output engine. It’s not very stressed at all.
Santo Spadaro: Famously, Vincenzo Lancia driving with his mother broke a front axle and the roads in pre-war Italy were horrific, and he was distraught that his mother was stuck at the side of the road with a broken axle. So he went home and determined to rectify this, he famously said, “Italy is not going to build roads for cars, I’m going to build cars for the road.”
Santo Spadaro: All of these technologies that are kind of in every car that we drive today, the independent front suspension, aerodynamic design, monocoque body, V6 engine, pressure oiling system, trailing arm independent rear suspension. I mean it’s the modern car, and it’s all from one car company.
Frank Spadaro: Lancia over engineered pretty much everything they did, even down to a little door switch where you could take it apart, fix it, and reassemble it again like brand new.
Frank Spadaro: We get in the car, it gives us a little memory of dad. To drive the car is very light driving performance. It’s not a high-performance car, but it’s a great driving car.
Santo Spadaro: Whenever I drive this car, even if I know that I’m not really kind of a well-refined, or well-rounded gentleman, I feel like a well-refined and well-rounded gentleman just because the car kind of forces you into it. You just feel like, “Oh, I need to sit upright a little bit.” The car just kinda wants you to be a better person.
As always, GPO Tuning is your solution for German Auto Repair. But if you are looking for heavy duty truck parts, we know of a few good locations. So, ask us and we’ll help.