Jump to content

Gerdie - - The story of the shop truck


Recommended Posts



A lot of guys and gals in the trade will have a special project in the back corner of the shop or at their home garage. It’s in our DNA to make things mechanical go. Some are into dirt track racing, the drag strip, power boating, snow machine, or many of the other forms of engine snarling, testosterone filled adrenalin sports activities. Then there are those who are interested in restorations projects. While others spend hours upon hours carefully and artistically creating their own unique work of automotive art.


I got into air cooled VW’s. Restored a few and showed them at different shows, even won a few 1st place trophies and a few best of shows too. Sadly, the VW passion subsided a long time ago and all those cars are gone now. Like a lot of these restoration or testosterone filled hobbies, at some point in time they wear a little thin and you move onto other projects. However, for me, there is this one old truck that I never got rid of… and that’s Gerdie.


Gerdie, as my daughters affectionately named it, is a 1984 Toyota 4X4 extended cab pickup. I bought it second hand when it had about 5,000.0 miles on it. It was in perfect shape and it was just the size I needed. These days it sports a few small dents here and there and a few cancer spots as well. It has slowly aged from shiny and new to dull and drab as the kids and the rest of the family grew older. This whole story is a result of me rummaging through some old photos and I ran across one of my two daughters standing in the bed of the truck. I think they were just 4 or 5 years old then. (They’re in there mid 30’s now.) (My son on the other hand, well, he doesn’t even want to be seen it. Says it’s not cool.) It does have that old car funk and it’s definitely no show winner, but I like it just the same.


The paint faded years ago and a lot of the primer is showing through these days. The original 22R engine gave up years ago, dropped #2 cyl going home one night. A few years ago it was the transmission and somewhere between the engine and transmission problems I had to find a replacement rear-end for it.


When I bought a brand new full size pickup old Gerdie became the shop work truck. And, like most shop trucks it got used and abused. We used it to haul parts and old junk engines and transmissions to the scrap yard. Half the time nobody would strap things down and things would slide around bashing into the sides of the bed as you would stop or take off. Mechanically, we kept it in shape, beyond that nobody gave it a second thought; it was just an old truck and nothing more.


Every little ding and crinkle has its own unique story to tell. Most of them I put there myself. With the exception of a few that is. Nothing major mind you, well… there is that wrinkled front right fender that I’m not taking the blame for. That’s my wife’s fault. She was teasing me with some licorice one afternoon at the shop (years ago) she took off running around the shop giggling, so the chase was on. She rounded the corner outside the front office with me in hot pursuit. I didn’t make the corner; instead I tripped and did a header into the fender just above the center section of the wheel arch. Crushed it in pretty good too! I never changed the fender, I just hammered it out the best I could and left it there as a reminder of why I shouldn’t chase the wife for candy. Come to think of it… I didn’t get any of that licorice either.


For years it was strictly the shop truck. Then we decided to move out into the country for a different life style than in the city. Gerdie took on the job as the all-weather 4X4 vehicle, and boy… has it come in handy. These days with gas prices the way they are the old truck makes regular trips back and forth to the shop almost every day. (Beats filling up the big V8 fuel tank in my other truck.) The old rust bucket gets a few stares on my 35 mile commute to work when I’m bounding along at 70 mph, like I said, it’s no show winner; it may look like crap but it runs like new.


The big thing about this old truck when it’s sitting out in front of the shop is not that it’s my old truck that I’ve personally owned for 30 years, it’s actually my statement piece of what can be done. Just like the show car that somebody built by hand or the racer building their perfect machine. Old Gerdie becomes a way of telling my customers just how long you can actually keep one on the road if you really set your mind to it. Most of the time, when a car reaches a certain age, neglect becomes its only friend, and everything starts to fall apart. The oil isn’t changed, that little rattle is left go, or the coolant leak it’s had for quite some time is forgotten about. (That is until the next time you drive it and forget to bring the jug.)


In fact, a lot of times it actually helps make a sale just to have the old heap of iron sitting in the parking lot. Oh sure, there are those that look at it and turn their nose up. Some will quote the old cliché, “It’s a mechanics car, and you know how it is… the worst car is always owned by a mechanic.” I just smile, while they are standing at the counter getting their car checked in and say, “Mine runs and drives, what’s yours here for?” (Snicker, snicker)


As it is, I think I’ll hang on to the old truck a while longer. Maybe it’s the memories of all the trips we’ve taking in it or the stories behind each of those dings. I’ve been asked many times why I don’t restore it. You know, turn it into one of those “back in the corner of the shop” restorations jobs.


Nay, you’d cover up all those little dents and the memories along with them. I think I’ll keep it just the way it is.


View full article

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites




Good story. I went to a sales meeting this week put on by Jasper Engines and transmissions. They suggested creating a wall of pictures of customer cars with say 200k plus on them or 300k plus. It shows customers what us possible.

That is an excellent idea!!


Also, great article, Gonzo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...



I had given up on my 1987 Toyota 1 Ton Cab and Chasis with 375,000 miles and decided to look for a replacement. I was unable to find anything new for less than $25,000 and nothing I found used was acceptable in this style vehicle. I decided to rebuild this one and spent $10,000 to completely rebuild the engine with American parts except the new Toyota injectors, new steering and front end suspension parts, new body parts including glass with all felt and rubber parts plus all new lumber for the stakebed. I am hoping it lasts another 30 years because I plan to. I put a link to the photo that does not appear to have populated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Auto shop owners are always looking for ways to improve production levels. They focus their attention on their technicians and require certain expectations of performance in billable labor hours. While technicians must know what is expected of them, they have a limited amount of control over production levels. When all factors are considered, the only thing a well-trained technician has control over is his or her actual efficiency.
      As a review, technician efficiency is the amount of labor time it takes a technician to complete a job compared to the labor time being billed to the customer. Productivity is the time the technician is billing labor hours compared to the time the technician is physically at the shop. The reality is that a technician can be very efficient, but not productive if the technician has a lot of downtime waiting for parts, waiting too long between jobs, or poor workflow systems.
      But let’s go deeper into what affects production in the typical auto repair shop. As a business coach, one of the biggest reasons for low shop production is not charging the correct labor time. Labor for extensive jobs is often not being billed accurately. Rust, seized bolts, and wrong published labor times are just a few reasons for lost labor dollars.
      Another common problem is not understanding how to bill for jobs that require extensive diagnostic testing, and complicated procedures to arrive at the root cause for an onboard computer problem, electrical issue, or drivability issue. These jobs usually take time to analyze, using sophisticated tools, and by the shop’s top technician. Typically, these jobs are billed at a standard menu labor charge, instead of at a higher labor rate. This results in less billed labor hours than the actual labor time spent. The amount of lost labor hours here can cripple a shop’s overall profit.
      Many shop owners do a great job at calculating their labor rate but may not understand what their true effective labor is, which is their labor sales divided by the total labor hours sold. In many cases, I have seen a shop that has a shop labor rate of over $150.00 per hour, but the actual effective labor rate is around $100. Not good.
      Lastly, technician production can suffer when the service advisors are too busy or not motivated to build relationships with customers, which results in a low sales closing ratio. And let’s not forget that to be productive, a shop needs to have the right systems, the right tools and equipment, an extensive information system, and of course, great leadership.
      The bottom line is this; many factors need to be considered when looking to increase production levels. While it does start with the technician, it doesn’t end there. Consider all the factors above when looking for ways to improve your shop’s labor production.
  • Similar Topics

    • By carmcapriotto
      Thank you to RepairPal for sponsoring The Auto Repair Marketing Podcast. Learn more about RepairPal at https://repairpal.com/shops
      How To Get In Touch
      Group - Auto Repair Marketing Mastermind
      Website - shopmarketingpros.com 
      Facebook - facebook.com/shopmarketingpros 
      Get the Book - shopmarketingpros.com/book
      Instagram - @shopmarketingpros 
      Questions/Ideas - [email protected] 
      Click to go to the Podcast on Remarkable Results Radio
    • By Joe Marconi

      Premium Member Content 

      This content is hidden to guests, one of the benefits of a paid membership. Please login or register to view this content.

    • By Joe Marconi

      Premium Member Content 

      This content is hidden to guests, one of the benefits of a paid membership. Please login or register to view this content.

    • By carmcapriotto
      Meg Lewis, BJ’s Automotive Diagnostic Center, Belfast, ME, NAPA Auto Care Technician of the Year 2022.  Carm and Meg discuss the shop's transition to a four-day workweek to promote work-life balance, the challenges of finding and retaining skilled technicians. Meg shares her experience as a female technician. They also discuss the need to change the perception of the automotive industry and attract more women. The episode concludes with a discussion on succession planning and the shop's community involvement
      The decision to move to a four-day workweek (00:03:14) Meg discusses the idea of transitioning to a four-day workweek and the process of deciding which day to take off. The role of a diagnostician as a technology specialist (00:07:55) Carm suggests renaming the role of a diagnostician to a technology specialist, highlighting the importance of technology in automotive diagnostics. The collaboration between a technology specialist and a mechanical specialist (00:08:48) Carm and Meg discuss the complementary roles of a technology specialist and a mechanical specialist in automotive repair and the importance of their collaboration. Challenges with staffing during COVID-19 (00:10:02) The impact of COVID-19 on staffing, including layoffs, struggles to find new technicians, and the use of apprenticeship programs. The decision to pursue automotive technology (00:17:36) Meg discusses her early interest in working with cars and her decision to pursue automotive technology in high school and college. The importance of attracting more women to the automotive industry (00:18:09) Carm suggests changing the perception of the industry and highlights the unique traits that women can bring to the workplace. Overcoming physical challenges as a female technician (00:19:31) Meg talks about how she adapts and finds creative solutions to overcome physical challenges in her work as a female technician. Importance of communication in internal succession (00:27:14) The significance of regular and effective communication between the owner and the successor in a business's internal succession process.   Thanks to our Partner, Dorman Products.
      Dorman gives people greater freedom to fix vehicles by constantly developing new repair solutions that put owners and technicians first. Take the Dorman Virtual Tour at www.DormanProducts.com/Tour
      Connect with the Podcast:
      -Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RemarkableResultsRadioPodcast/ -Follow on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carmcapriotto/ -Follow on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/remarkableresultsradiopodcast/ -Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RResultsBiz
      -Join our Insider List: https://remarkableresults.biz/insider
      -All books mentioned on our podcasts: https://remarkableresults.biz/books
      -Our Classroom page for personal or team learning: https://remarkableresults.biz/classroom
      -Buy Me a Coffee: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/carm
      -The Aftermarket Radio Network: https://aftermarketradionetwork.com
      -Special episode collections: https://remarkableresults.biz/collections

      Click to go to the Podcast on Remarkable Results Radio
    • Incfile.com
    • By carmcapriotto
      Hunt explores the crucial differences between shop management software and QuickBooks, focusing on the impact on parts margin. This episode is a must-listen for shop owners and financial managers seeking clarity and efficiency in their business operations.
      • Dual Bookkeeping Explained: Unravel the reasons behind running two sets of books and its effect on your financials.
      • Real-Life Client Case: Learn from a client's experience with discrepancies in parts margin between shop management systems and QuickBooks.
      • Strategies for Financial Accuracy: Gain insights into aligning financial data across platforms for precise tracking and profitability.
      Thanks to our partners, NAPA TRACS and Promotive
      Did you know that NAPA TRACS has onsite training plus six days a week support?
      It all starts when a local representative meets with you to learn about your business and how you run it.  After all, it's your shop, so it's your choice.
      Let us prove to you that Tracs is the single best shop management system in the business.  Find NAPA TRACS on the Web at NAPATRACS.com
      It’s time to hire a superstar for your business; what a grind you have in front of you. Great news, you don’t have to go it alone. Introducing Promotive, a full-service staffing solution for your shop. Promotive has over 40 years of recruiting and automotive experience. If you need qualified technicians and service advisors and want to offload the heavy lifting, visit www.gopromotive.com.
      Paar Melis and Associates – Accountants Specializing in Automotive Repair
      Visit us Online: www.paarmelis.com
      Email Hunt: [email protected]
      Get a copy of my Book: Download Here
      Aftermarket Radio Network
      Click to go to the Podcast on Remarkable Results Radio

  • Our Sponsors

  • Create New...