Few things give an auto mechanic hard-core street cred faster than inspecting a customer's car and prescribing the most simple repairs — perhaps a $30 hose or a 12-buck sparkplug. Better still is the mechanic who ascribes the problem to a freakish, early-morning fuel-line burp or squeaky, WD-40–thirsty struts and then recommends the customer hit the bricks with wallet fully intact, free to spend his automotive dollars on a a Heal the Bay bumper sticker and an antenna ball. It also doesn't hurt if that mechanic has a silver ponytail and a rustic-cozy waiting room with a bookshelf full of fuzzy, spiritual self-improvement books, giving him the feel of a Vermont gentleman-farmer/philosopher. It also helps if said mechanic's shop — Jim Matson Automotive — has a constant flow of cars, from beat-up Rabbits to gleaming Infinitis, with big repairs costing more than a month's rent done as promised, to complete satisfaction. 4320 W. Pico Blvd., Mid-City; (323) 939-2171, jimmatson.com.

—Adam Gropman

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