After working at several dealerships and moving his way up through the ranks, Clark’s wife suggested he open his own repair shop. “She said, ‘Why don’t you hang a shingle?’ So I did!”
In 2006 he opened Vintage Transmission and Gear as a specialty repair shop for antique cars. “They’re a unique experience,” he said. “They smell different. They drive different.” Clark performs every type of service, from restorations to modernizations, and works on both American and foreign cars.
Frequently, Clark finds that a part he needs to complete a restoration is no longer manufactured. In such cases, he uses his professional network to locate parts from secondary dealers. If he can’t find one, he makes it himself. “Most auto repair shops don’t want anything to do with old cars because they take too long,” Clark said. “There’s a lot of research. I spend a lot of hours chasing stuff down.”
Customers also bring in vintage cars to get newer systems installed, such as power steering, air conditioning and seat belts. One recent customer got an automatic transmission installed in his 1951 Packard because he was no longer able to reach the clutch.
Clark enjoys the variety of his work. “Every day you come to work, you could be doing anything from an engine replacement to a brake alignment.”
As Clark’s business grew, his customers began asking him to service their newer cars as well. “People who have early cars also have late models,” he said. He now works on modern vehicles in addition to vintage ones, though his shop is still usually full of classic cars. He also worked on a semi-professional dirt track racing pit crew as the repairman for motors and transmissions. Comprising more than 500 parts, a transmission is “probably the most complicated thing in your car,” Clark said.
When Clark talks about his work, his obvious love for vintage vehicles shines through. He enjoys the sensory experience – the feel, the smell and the sound – of driving an older car. He also enjoys the enthusiasm of other drivers when he takes one of his own older cars on the road. “As you drive them, people wave.”
Vintage Transmission and Gear, located at 560 Valdry Court, Suite B-7 in Brentwood, is open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays by appointment only. Call 925-513-4095, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vintagetransmissionandgear.com.