by Afshin Behnia / 11 Jan 2013
Say you live in Southern California and you have a vintage Alfa Romeo, Fiat, or Lancia. Who do you trust to work on your car? There are a just over a handful of capable shops left that know vintage Italian mechanicals well, and Santo’s Italian Car Service is one of the best.
Born in Sicily, Santo became a hands-on Alfista at a young age when he started working for an Alfa Romeo mechanic in his native town of Collesano. After completing the de rigueur voyage to the land of opportunity, Santo opened his business on September 1 of 1981, and continues his passion today along with his world-famous son, Anthony, and his mechanic Hugo, who is now practically family.
Santo is a chronically jovial type, and you’d be hard pressed to catch him without his signature smile or laugh. You go to Santo for his unmatched expertise, and you stay for the company. In fact, the first time I visited Santo, the experience reminded me of a classic barber shop scene, where gentlemen use a shave or a haircut as an excuse to get together and pass an entire afternoon shooting the breeze and talking about what men talk about.
Not surprisingly, Santo’s good nature extends to his local competitors as well. It’s not uncommon for other local Italian mechanics to call Santo for advice when they are stumped. Santo is always gracious and helps them out.
Cynics out there may say that I’m being kind to Santo because he’s promised me a discount on my next service. Nothing could be further from the truth—he’s going to charge me double no matter what. I kid, I kid.
Come by one Saturday morning. Chances are you’ll find a few of us hanging out here.
Santo’s Italian Car Service is located at: