It’s inevitable—at some point, we all need a trustworthy mechanic that we can depend on. Not all friends can wrench and most of the time it’s hard to find a spare moment to work on your own, that’s when you have to learn to place your trust in the hands of another. If you’re the one who happens to be the “one” who’s called upon to help wrench on any of your family or friend’s cars, you already know how tough it is to do the work and not really expect much in return. That’s a “solid” or favor you know that’ll never come back. As much as you’d like to send them off to a standard repair shop, you can’t fathom the idea of them being ripped off just as much as you wouldn’t want to be taken for a sucker. There are plenty of scams waiting to happen; you shouldn’t be the one who fell for it, or worse, the one who referred someone to them.
While you can check local Yelp listings and business reviews, finding a reputable repair shop can still be a daunting task. Mom and pop shops are often so small that the people there probably don’t know |what a Yelp is, and short of driving to the actual business, it’s pretty much impossible to tell if they treat their personal cars like piles of shit or Lambos. It all comes down to one question: Who the hell can you trust?
Picture a scenario where you pull up to an automotive repair center and spot one of the workers stepping out of this pristine 1992 Nissan 240SX. You’re a car guy so you know all about them; they’re nice cars and very popular among your fellow enthusiasts. They’re relatively inexpensive to own and often times aren’t in the greatest condition. You can thank amateur drifting for that, but we digress. This particular S13 chassis is in mint condition. The age of the car in relation to its great condition shows that the owner cares about what he drives. While it remains an affordable chassis you can tell the owner has invested some money into it to maintain its state. This probably means that they have some money to spend but have remained humble and aren’t trying overly hard to flaunt their resources. It’s all speculation but ask yourself this: Would you trust your car in the hands of someone who owns a $100K+ vehicle or someone who has maintained their two-decade old vehicle to a nearly-new state?
We present this scenario to you because the owner of this beautifully assembled S13 is also the successful owner and operator of his very own automotive service shop. RPM Auto Center is a well-known repair center in Temple City, California that prides itself on being the more affordable “dealer-alternative”. Steven Lam, the proprietor of this repainted S13 240SX, has also built himself a “dealer-alternative”. “I’ve had the opportunity to build a couple of other cars before this one so I’ve definitely applied the best of my experience for this build,” Steven says. “My previous projects include a full-blown track-spec Honda CR-X and a classic ’67 Datsun Roadster. Here and there I’ve also built a couple other Nissans and Hondas, but for this chassis, I just wanted to own a clean street car with some power. I managed to find a really clean chassis but then I spun a bearing on the stock motor and blew it. It wasn’t too big of a deal, however; I pulled it out and decided to just build a new one.”