February 5, 2003




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superlist no. 777

Women mechanics and women-owned garages

EVERY WOMAN I know drives a car, but few of us can fix them, and the number of women-owned garages and women mechanics can be counted on your fingers and toes. So, for those of us who like to swim upstream, these women are the salmon among ordinary fish.

San Francisco

Automotion owner Marilyn Brown has been working on cars since 1973. She got her start fixing bicycles but quickly moved on to cars. Brown, who was one of three women in a trade-school class of 2,500, says she fixes cars "because I can't type." Automotion services Japanese and American cars. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m., 185 Bayshore, S.F. $100 an hour. (415) 550-2400.

Foreign Car Repair works on compact foreign and American models. Owner Madeline Glorita has been in the business for more than 30 years. Tues.-Fri., 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., 6027 Geary, S.F. $90 an hour. (415) 752-8305.

Die Werkstatt repairs motorcycles only. Owner and mechanic Jennifer Bromme is a first-rate bike racer as well. Aside from repairs to mostly Japanese bikes and racing bikes, Bromme and her employees offer support to women interested in racing. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-6 p.m., 3248 17th St., S.F. $65 an hour. (415) 552-8115.

Mission Motorcycles is a complete motorcycle dealership that offers service for Hondas, Kawasakis, and Yamahas. Of course, co-owner Wendy Epstein rides her motorcycle to the shop everyday. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 6232 Mission, S.F. $70 an hour. (415) 333-1234.

Subterranean Cycles while co-owner Abby Eichorn does not fix bikes herself, she does teach maintenance classes at the shop. Women from all over come to the shop to learn the art of bleeding brakes and cleaning chains. Subterranean repairs all makes of motorcycles. Mon. and Sat., 12-6 p.m.; Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., 886 Geary, S.F. $60 an hour. (415) 775-2999.

East Bay

Oakland Autoworks two of the five mechanics at this strictly Japanese-auto garage are women. Ciel Beatty deals with cranky customers when they come in, while Lisa Robles plays car doctor. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m., 240 W. MacArthur, Oakl. $90 an hour. (510) 597-8388.

Patti's Auto Care is owned by Patti Critchfield, who will only work on Japanese cars. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 2285 San Pablo, Berk. $70 an hour. (510) 981-9007.

Phoenix Auto owner-mechanic Pam Spence is no novice when it comes to fixing automobiles. Spence has more than 32 years of experience and is happy to fix your car, as long as it's a newer-model domestic or Japanese contraption. Mon.-Thurs., 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m., 4200 International, Oakl. $88.50 an hour. (510) 533-3356.

Model Garage is actually owned by two men, but employee Gail Grassi is there to tune your Volvo or Toyota. Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., 2920 Shattuck, Berk. $110. (510) 540-5899.

Grandma's Garage owner-mechanic Nancy Rupprecht is legendary when it comes to women mechanics in the Bay Area. Formerly a psychiatric health care worker, she was inspired by the feminist to do what she wanted in life. Now she performs surgery on foreign cars, plus the occasional Ford. Mon.-Thurs., 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., 821 Gilman, Berk. $80 an hour. (510) 524-7447.

Select Electric shares shop space with Grandma's but only handles electrical problems on exotic cars, vintage race cars, and oddly enough, the city of Albany's sewage trucks. Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. by appointment only, 821 Gilman, Berk. $90 an hour. (510) 528-7005. (Claudia Eyzaguirre)