Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic
by Rob Siegel
What the press is saying about Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic
"The subtitle of the book states that this is, "a memoir with actual useful stuff". While there is a prodigious amount of "actual useful stuff", it is through the author's attempts to keep his expanding menagerie of vehicles in operational order, find more garage space, and anecdotal stories that keep you turning the pages. Most importantly, the often humorously presented do-it-yourself advice from Siegel delivers insight into what it means to be a modern enthusiast."
November 10, 2015
"Just be sure to read up here first for maintenance/life advice."
October 2, 2015
"I just finished reading this book, and I can tell you, dear reader, that this book belongs on your bookshelf. Don't dawdle, get a copy today, this afternoon, right now!
...The writing style of this memoir is fantastically colloquial, making it seem like you're just sitting around the garage with Rob, swapping car tales and drinking a cold Sam Adams or two. The stories are entertaining, the cars keep your interest, and there's even some "actual useful stuff" in there like tool buying guides, car buying guides, a guide to getting a non-starter running again, unsticking "the stuckness", an introduction to A/C repair, and a bit about tracking down rattly bits and clunky chunks."
The major takeaway here is that you need to pick up a copy of this book, and it deserves a permanent place on your shelf. It's kept my attention for two solid weeks, and if I'm honest, put me behind on a lot of writing work I needed to get done. It was just too entertaining to put down."
September 26, 2014
"In "Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic: How Fixing Broken BMWs Helped Make Me Whole," we learn how [Siegel] juggles an old car collection while raising kids, remaining married and staying financially solvent. Spoiler alert: He works on his own cars.
..."Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic" is a fun, thoughtful read. It resonates with enthusiasts on a budget. If Siegel can't convince you the math works, then you're stronger than we are."
February 3, 2014
"Roundel columnist Rob Siegel has turned out a great book for all car lovers...Siegel covers a lot of ground in a humorous and intelligent-yet very approachable-way. Like Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance), he strives to do more than fix BMWs in his writings-he strives to fix Siegel along the way."
December 16, 2013
"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."
November 18, 2013
"...an entertaining take into the mind of a car enthusiast and how [Siegel] balances that passion with the demands of family life.
Do-it-yourselfers will find the technical information useful, while others will enjoy his story as a self-described 'out of control hobbyist.' "
October 11, 2013
"[Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic] will have you nodding in agreement at some of his methods. The book is a great compilation of insight into the mysterious ways to address different repairs. There are some fine tutorials throughout the book on the proper tools to obtain for certain repair jobs. Rob is an engineer by trade and has a great feel for mechanical work!"
October / November 2013
"Witty...you'll find everything you need to know-and more-about why you're a gearhead in Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic."
"Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic is about the reasons you might want an old car for its own sake, and how it might bring you joy as it is, without crushing you financially. It's the garage version of a cookbook for the ambitious home chef, really. You might not do all this car maintenance stuff yourself, but someone with a garage and a spare weekend could. Our buddy Patrick, who is in fact an ambitious home mechanic in the way that Bookdwarf is an ambitious home chef, thinks it's great. And he should know: thanks at least in part to Siegel's advice, he reports that his early-1990s BMW just passed inspection on the first try."
September 11, 2013
"Although Siegel's voice is distinctly his own, 'Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic' fits into the literary tradition pioneered by John Muir in his 1969 classic, 'How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive', followed five years later by Robert Pirsig's 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'."
August 9, 2013
"But while the 421-page book is rich in "actual useful stuff"-tips and solutions for the DIY-er mechanic, marked with a wrench, and advice on raising kids with his Asteroid Theory of Parenting ("any course corrections you make with your children had better occur early on")-it's equally rich in the philosophical grease that lubricates the gearhead mind. His humorous, Bill Bryson-esque observations on his own car-obsessed mind will be understood by all car guys (and gals), though they're rarely articulated so well in writing."
August 14, 2013
"Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic explores the
obsession passion of a car collector (or any hobby for that matter) and the inter-personal relationships that grow out of it...Extremely well written, funny and engaging this is a book that even a non "car guy" can enjoy."
August 11, 2013
"...a touching story...I think many [car guys] will see themselves in the book and it should be looked at as an easy (although rather long at 400 pages) read that will remind them of the many late nights under a car with oil slowly dripping on their face as they attempt to get to that bolt on top of the M3 transmission that just can't be reached by a normal human - even though the book says you can...For people like me, this the book has a real connection."
"...this memoir is as much a how-to manual on respecting the obsessions of the people in your life as it is on actual car repairs. And perhaps that is as it should be: we are the sum of our relationships, our work, and our passions. I think Rob weIl understands the delicate balance that exists between them."
"[Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic] is about life, passion, and pursuit of cars. Rob comes across as part Rube Goldberg and part Dr. Phil. You can use this book to help rebuild a 2002 or your marriage."
" 'Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic' reminds me of summertime Saturdays when I was a boy and Dad and his buddies would park their rides - Mercs, Caddys, Chevys - in our broad dirt dooryard and make out with them. It was a wrench-twisting ardor full of grunts, cursing and the sizzle of beer bottles bursting open.
Rob Siegel, a writer with permanent grease under his nails, would've totally been into it. And this funny, frisky book tells why.
...'Hack Mechanic' zips along nicely, and there's no question that Mr. Siegel would've fit right in with Dad and his pals."
June 2, 2013
"Besides offering useful advice on what to do when your car won't start, Mr. Siegel explains why men are drawn to smokin' hot cars."
July 20, 2013
"[Siegel's] book is so well done ... I love it!"
July 12, 2013
"Newton resident pens auto memoir...it's a pretty funny book about being a car guy and how best to balance that with being a dad, a husband, a guy that's got to contribute to household chores and expenses."
July 8, 2013
"...for the next occasion in your guy's life, how about a copy of 'Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic' "
June 30, 2013
"Rob Siegel, a Newton resident, has produced one of the best auto memoirs I've read in a long time...If your dad happens to be a car guy, Siegel's memoir would be a great Father's Day present. "
June 2, 2013
"[The book] often makes you chuckle (because you've been there) or marvel at the clever solution to a potential landmine of a repair ("cascading failure" is Siegel's apt descriptor)...
Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic is a book that will feel right at home next to your spiral-bound How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, and it's written with a breezy, conversational tone that lets you get to know the author even if you haven't been reading Roundel for 25 years. It's less a car manual than it is a how-to guide for living with this particular addiction, from buying to keeping to selling cars that entertain you, and that's why it's a worthwhile addition to your library.
June 13, 2013
"...a really excellent narrative about cars and sort of the philosophy behind working on older cars."
June 23, 2013
"This is not a book to rush through. Not if you are a car guy. If you are a car guy this is a book to stroll through...This is a book that I will lend out but only grudgingly and to friends who have demonstrated that they are responsible enough to be trusted to not abscond with it. I also will buy copies of it to give to other car guys for birthdays and I most definitely would recommend it."
May 29, 2013
"Rob Siegel's Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic rings poignant and true...What makes [his book] so appealing? Siegel has a perfect life. He has a thoroughly patient and understanding wife, creative and intelligent kids, a bunch of neat old BMWs, and a moderate income that allows him to pursue his automotive hobby with a passion many of us share. Is there anything here that doesn't sound appealing?
More and more apparent as I read his book was the earnest effort Siegel puts forth to maintain healthy relationships with people as weil as his stable of cars. What saves this book-and it's a hefty one, mind you-from oozing its way into some gooey gag-inducing treatise on Zen and Automotive Well-Being is that it's filled with real-life conundrums, a tasteful sprinkling of foul language, and some very useful automotive diagnostic advice...
Siegel's writing shines a light beam chock-full of positive energy, along with an exposure to our collective hobby-one that non-car folk will appreciate and even enjoy...heartfelt and illuminating."
"Inspired by John Muir's VW 'Idiot Book' (aren't we all), Rob Siegel spins a fab mix of Zen and 20w50 ... the wealth of advice and humorous stories will strike a chord with any classic car nut."
"Scene & Heard: Westbend Vineyard hosts national gathering of BMWs"
June 2, 2013
"Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic is a witty, informative, funny, and delightful read. It is good to know if you are a car nut that you are not alone. With Rob Siegel, you are in good company."
April 21, 2013
"Siegel's expletive-undeleted sense of humour and intelligence rule and I thoroughly enjoyed it...even the most knowledgeable will learn something and get a laugh or three on the way."
April 10, 2013