Home BMW History Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic

Quincy Patriot-Ledger - November 18, 2013

Silvio Calabi: New automotive entertainment

Rob Siegel is "The Hack Mechanic" columnist in the BMW Car Club of America magazine. For many years, he's been repairing, restoring, buying, selling, maintaining and driving dozens of old high-mileage BMWs and writing about it - while working a real job (geophysicist), staying with the same spouse (Maire Anne) and raising three boys. Obviously, he knows something we don't.

In Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic, Siegel finally tells all, including "how fixing broken BMWs helped make me whole." Part of it seems simple: Retiring to the garage to twirl wrenches and drill out rusted bolts is great stress relief and makes us think we have some control over the world. And in showing how cars have helped build personal connections in his life, Siegel hints that, beyond our greasy fingernails, gearheads can, in fact, be warm and caring humans.

Women like throw pillows, men like cars; women tell all on Facebook, men have to drink beer just to talk with each other; women build nests, men are looking for sensations - and an affordable torque wrench. Siegel explains this, but he also instructs us on the distinctions between jackstands and drive-on ramps, why paint jobs are so expensive, how to garage five cars in a heavily zoned neighborhood, and other actual, useful stuff. It isn't all BMWs, either; there are VW, Porsche, Triumph, Miata and even Firebird adventures.

If Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance left you blinking in disbelief, then Hack Mechanic may be your book. It was mine.

Review from and courtesy of Quincy Patriot-Ledger - November 18, 2013