The case for bringing back DIY car workshops in London

As someone involved in the construction industry, I am bombarded daily with the “the need for sustainability” Its become a thorn in the side of late, as many of the regulations we strive to comply with compromise good design and when you really examine the measures you’re implementing, they’re really not that sustainable. They are in fact just box-ticking exercises in order to achieve a certain arbitrary accreditation which aids the property agents in justifying an astronomical price tag.

As a car enthusiast, I have a similar gripe with the motor industry. Car makers nowadays are encouraging you to purchase cars more frequently, offering lease hire deals and buyback promises, and try to convince you that if you’re not driving the latest eco-hydrogen-hybrid slowmobile, you might as well be clubbing a baby seal to death.

Car makers are keen to shout about their economy and C02 emissions but rarely are we told how much energy is used or carbon produced in the production of our cars. The general public are, broadly speaking, oblivious to the embodied energy attached to our cars.


So we’re asking, surely it would be more economical and environmentally friendly for cars to be kept on the road for longer? We don’t have the time or the aptitude to try and come to a scientific conclusion to that question, but we can examine why people don’t keep their cars for longer but how we could help them to do so.


Between congestion charges and lack of parking, London would seem like a terrible place to own a car. The UK capital also boasts one of the world’s best public transport networks which covers every corner of the city and surrounding suburbs and offers everything from subway trains to river boats to cable cars.

Citizens of London do not need cars to get to work, to get to school, to do their shopping etc. If you own a car in London and it breaks down, its merely a minor inconvenience, unlike say Los Angeles where it could result in you losing your job.

There is absolutely no need to own a car in London-and this is precisely what makes it a great place to own an old or unusual car.



So if Britain is a nation of car lovers and Londoners find themselves in this unique scenario, why do people not own more old cars? The problem is undoubtedly maintenance and space.

Christine (1983 film)

In the classic Stephen King novel Christine (ISBN 978-0-670-22026-7) the main character buys a clapped out 1958 Plymouth Fury. His parents are less than pleased and order him to get rid of it. He dutifully removes it, taking it to a dubious establishment known as Darnell’s where for a couple of dollars a week, one can store their car and rent a lift and tools by the hour.


Car Co-Op

The garage in Stephen King’s novel has a bad rep around town owing to its proprietor’s involvement in smuggling contraband, so we’re not suggesting it as a precedent business model. Instead, take for example bicycle Co-Ops, such as London Bike Kitchen. Not only can you rent workshop space and tools but you can take classes to learn how to perform everything from basic maintenance tasks to complex repairs.


How will it work?

The Simpsons

What we are envisaging is almost like one of those budget 24hr gyms you see all over the city. With swipe card access you could come and go as you please. When you need some extra guidance, you could book a mechanic like you would book a personal trainer. The facility would have an induction that takes you through basic safety and operating lifts and power tools, much like you would with weights and cardio machines.

Lets say you’re on a road trip to another city and you need to make a quick adjustment or repair, your swipe card could give you access to multiple sites, and an app would direct you to your nearest one.


Business Model

Naturally, it would depend on making it profitable. Its not something a local council would fund as a community initiative, it has to be a private enterprise.


If someone wants to take it to Dragon’s Den, cut us in on the deal yeah?

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