Costa Automobile Restore Closes Its Doors on Narberth Right after 50 Years

Dick Costa employed to see his clients as consumers. Nonetheless at some place above the last half century, a little something adjusted, and the stream of patrons who came to Costa Automobile Maintenance turned buddies.

Standing on the corner of Montgomery and Brookhurst Avenues due to the fact 1974, this community staple turned extra than an auto repair service shop. For Costa and his staff, it was a relatives. For the individuals who lived in the location and had their vehicles serviced there all through their complete lives, it was nearer a social club than an vehicle shop.

Costa Auto Restore shut its doors for the very last time on Friday, March 29. Throughout the very last 7 days of business, a torrent of effectively-wishers and former customers came to say goodbye, bringing presents and property-baked treats for the imminent retirement of the gentleman who lent his name to the store at 845 Montgomery Avenue.

“A lady brought a bunch of cookies in, nearly crying, ‘What am I going to do just about every time I have an crisis? You guys are often able to bail me out,’” Costa remembers. “She was damaged-hearted.”

He describes how handful of customers would contact in right before arriving. “They would just display up,” he states. “All the guys is familiar with who’s who and [that] you choose care of them. Fork out us later on, don’t get worried, it’s no cost.”

Costa has a heat to him which is not apparent in several people of more youthful generations. With a tranquil knowledge and an open up thoughts, he’s similarly comfortable telling stories as he is under the hood of a Volkswagen. Costa has lived as a result of so much modify, each in planet historical past and in his marketplace. Experienced somebody his age currently entered Costa Auto Maintenance in its 1973 rookie calendar year, it is possible they could have fought in the trenches during Earth War I.

At that time, a 19-year-previous Costa had just dropped out of West Chester College, given that the tutorial existence just did not go well with him. His pastime was correcting and reselling Volkswagens, so he made a decision to increase on that. 

The interior of Costa Car Maintenance, the place Dick invested around a few-quarters of his everyday living.

Costa rented a tiny garage in Havertown for just $50 a month and then opened yet another storefront in Narberth fewer than a calendar year later. Just 20 decades previous, he discovered himself the proprietor of two thriving vehicle outlets, a real achievements story for the university dropout.

For the 50 a long time that followed, in addition to the technology, not a great deal improved.

The advent of computer systems represented a turning position in the vehicle market. When Costa Vehicle Fix to start with opened, a auto was just a auto. You’d examine a trouble, resolve or switch a portion and the car or truck was completely ready to hit the road once more. That is not so in 2024.

Approximately each individual modern day car or truck has a central computer which enables one to diagnose certain complications, but also it signifies difficulties are more difficult to fix. In actuality, autos are so innovative now that you may well have to go to the seller for a basic repair.

“You can do everything right, you place it in, transform the motor vehicle on and it doesn’t function. You have to get again to [the dealer], have them plan it and then it grinds,” Costa claims. “There was a lot more artwork to it back again in the ’70s. Back in the working day you better know quite substantially everything to know in which the issue is.”

Because of those people limits, Costa tended to target on Volkswagens, Hondas, Toyotas and other relaxed foreign cars and trucks. That doesn’t suggest there haven’t been a truthful share of special autos introduced into the shop, while.

A person of Costa’s favorites was a modified Volvo. Though it looked and functioned like a regular auto, when one of his personnel strike the four-way flashers, a series of secret compartments popped out by the driver’s knees beneath the steering wheel and up coming to the exhaust.

Bewildered, Costa named the purchaser who had dropped the vehicle off, declaring, “We don’t know what this is. Something’s strange about this motor vehicle. We cannot operate on it. We’re going to have to send it again to the supplier.”

The customer, a community court decide, told Costa not to stress. The car was confiscated from a narcotics supplier who had modified the car as a drug runner. That similar decide even arrived back again to the shop just prior to it closed to thank Costa for assisting him out, and to say goodbye.

The garage at Costa Auto Repair is characteristically Main Line.
The garage at Costa Auto Fix is characteristically Major Line.

Even though Costa is naturally thrilled about his impending retirement, expressing goodbye is the most difficult aspect. Costa Automobile Restore has been a home for him and his function loved ones for far more than 3-quarters of his lifestyle. Leaving now is like permitting go a element of his soul.

While there is a lot of golfing, excellent time with his grandkids and visits to Florida in his foreseeable future, the fulfillment of helping out his friends, not customers, is anything that just can’t be replaced.

Back again in the ’80s, Costa was out on the Most important Line with his brothers and he ran into a prolonged-time purchaser. Just one of them requested, “‘How do you know this dude?’” Costa responded, “‘Oh he’s a client.’”

The “customer” turned all around, looked at Costa and corrected him, indicating, “I’m your friend.”

“I in no way created that miscalculation once again,” Costa states.

Similar: Margaret Kuo’s States Goodbye to the Wayne Neighborhood