Pamela Hoover Willats, and her husband Doug, own Village Motors of Los Altos, and if there's anyone hip to the automotive business, Pamela is.
The Willats bought the First Street repair shop six years ago. Pamela owned an automotive parts store in Palo Alto for a couple of years and knew what automotive parts moved and what parts stayed on the shelf. She also knew the area where people patronized local repair shops with their big foreign cars.
"When we first bought the shop, most of our work was on BMWs, Mercedes and Jaguars. We still do a lot of European cars, but times change," Pamela said. "Now we do more Japanese cars, because Los Altos parents buy Japanese imports for their children."
She said Los Altos parents want a good car and Japanese cars cost less. "They are low maintenance and are excellent for kids. The parents buy a good second-hand Japanese car and we do the maintenance. Some parents also buy new cars for their kids and since Village Motors is AAA (California State Automobile Association) affiliated and approved, we can validate the warranty and it remains valid.
"We work on a lot of sport utility cars because people in this area have a sport utility car for their second car. A lot of people in Los Altos go to the Tahoe area and they bring those "sport utes" in here to keep them in good shape," Pamela said.
Village Motors has three mechanics. Pam's husband Doug works on a lot of the European cars and Mark Amable is the diagnostic and wire specialist. All of the mechanics are specialized in different phases of auto repair. All the mechanics (technicians) are ASE certified (Automotive Service Excellence).
To be approved by AAA's, mechanics must be ASE certified. The AAA organization also inspects the property every six weeks for cleanliness.
"We do a lot of hands-on work. If a person doesn't understand what the problem is, we take them to their car and show them the problem," Pam said. "Customers tell me other dealers don't go through that procedure, but then we both know where we stand and what has to be done to the car.
"I'm proud of one thing, this shop has never been reprimanded by the Bureau of Auto Repair. That's because the customer knows what we are going to do to his car and then we do quality work," Pamela said.
Village Motors is starting to provide smog testing. The State of California is become more restrictive with the testing procedures and everything is computerized through the California Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
"Since we repair the customer's car and keep the motor clean, when the customer brings in the car for a smog test every two years, we know the car and can do the test quickly," Doug said. "Any car that fails the test can no longer go to another dealer in hopes of an easier test. Now everything is reported to Sacramento and registered immediately."
Doug grew up in Los Altos and Pam grew up in Los Gatos. Both enjoy working in Los Altos because they both think the people are warm and friendly.
"Because we like it here, we sponsor a little kids T-ball team. I love sponsoring the little kids because they have so much fun and are always laughing," Pam said. They have so much fun without all that competition that a Little League team has."
Village Motors of Los Altos is located at 465 First St., in Los Altos. For more information, call 948-5309.