Shade tree mechanic

Anyone north of the age of 60 would know this term, but for the rest, I shall explain. This is the term for the guy who is set up in his back yard and works under a big tree that provides the most shade. Many times this is the guy that would tell you that he can fix anything and if you let him he will try. He may be a very good mechanic, but the truth be told, no one can fix anything just from the start. This takes skill and that derives from experience which takes time. Too many XJS owners are left with a choice of local mechanics equal to taking the car to the family Vet or the local cobbler.


So many owners prefer to service the car themselves but let us address your skills. Are you equipped to do it all in your garage or perhaps you have one of those trees in the back yard? Now let's be clear that there are many to most things that can be addressed by you based on your level of skills with a good set of service manuals. But how far should you go? Sure you can do some pushups on the first weekend you spend with the new woman in your life and try to convince her that you can get in the ring with the heavyweight champion of the world and come home with the belt but she remembers how you perform the night before.


You can go to the local cars and coffee and tell everyone that the movie a bridge too far was a story about you in World war two, the part that William Holden played, or that you were the real Rocky. Sure you can do all of those things but should you enjoy the little things and then find a pro to take care of the rest? I was capable of servicing most tasks on my 58 and 65 Rolls and a few things on my 84 but time was not on my side, so I sent them all to the dealer for service. The same for my Mercedes and Jaguar cars. However, I received notices from them all that they were no longer going to be servicing cars 25 years and older. Now, this has all changed since several years ago when the dealers realized that service was becoming their best profit margin as a buyer was buying their cars from their computer and phone and the gravy train of car sales for the most part was becoming a thing of the past.


But let’s address why they sent out those letters, to begin with. The classics require a mechanic, and the newer cars require a technician. So you ask what is the difference? A mechanic has years of experience in troubleshooting problems and finding a solution. A technician, on the other hand, attends a school that teaches him or her in short order to read the computer that tells you what the problem is.


So again, how much should you do at home on your own? As much as you care to do. However, I suggest that you leave some big task to the pros. Such as rebuilding your gearbox, engine overhaul, rebuilding the suspension, rebuilding the seats, or replacing the convertible top. It is a matter of skill and the proper tools to get the task done successfully. Or you may find out the hard way that you do not have the skill to take home the heavyweight belt or finishing first in the NYC marathon with only a few days of training.

1 comment

  • You can’t be an american. I am way north of 60 years, and will still tackle any repair job (with the right manuals, and videos. This the real american way,

    Charles lynch

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