In stark contrast to the typically pristine conditions of modern garages, the Noyac Service Station sports the wear and tear from decades of tune-ups and oil changes. It also boasts several trinkets—a still-purring 1965 Buick eyesore left for years by a customer, and an ancient metal fan drowned out by WLNG classics—to tie it all together.The service station perhaps more closely resembles a time capsule, hearkening back to the days of the Bridgehampton Race Circuit and $1-a-gallon gas.
Considering the occasion during a visit on Friday was the recent decision by longtime owner William Everett, 61, to heed the wishes of his doctors and retire his tools, the jokes about bringing in the “American Pickers” television crew to raid the shop’s contents weren’t so much jokes.
Mr. Everett, much like his shop and tools, sees himself as old-school, even stubborn.
For example, instead of using a high-powered hydraulic jack, Mr. Everett still utilizes “the pit,” a deep walkway carved into the cement floor that allows a mechanic to stand under his metal canvas.
And years ago, when the lettering atop his building was stripped off by a storm, “I never bothered to put it back up. All of my customers knew me by then anyway,” he shared matter-of-factly.
After all, the Everett family’s deep roots at 2953 Noyac Road date back to long before his watch over the shop began.
Mr. Everett’s grandfather once ran a gas station and small repair shop on the property and, after his death, Mr. Everett’s father, also named William, started from scratch and constructed the current building in 1946. The elder William even raised his family in an adjacent house before dying in 1985 and leaving the shop to his son.
“This place is so old, some of the old-timers still around here tell me my grandfather would sit outside under the tree drinking iced tea and holding his shotgun,” Mr. Everett said, a smile creeping across his face despite the bittersweet tone of his stories. “If he liked you, he’d pump your gas. If not, he’d just wave you along with that shotgun.
“Then when my dad owned the place, he did a lot of marine repairs in the summer,” he continued. “He’d figure out the tools, lay them out for me when I was like 12 or 13, and I’d take the engine apart for him. I was hooked. I started to tinker with my bicycle on Friday nights here with my friends.”
And when the talk turned to the glory days of the shop—Mr. Everett estimates that he worked on about 1,000 cars a year starting in 1972—his gears shift nimbly from nostalgia to longing.
“In the 1970s and 1980s, it was a blast rebuilding carburetors and engines. To hear an engine purr afterward—oh man, you get real proud, real quick. It was such a rush,” the mechanic continued. “We used to have car clubs full of Corvettes and Ferraris funneling through here from the Bridgehampton [Race Circuit]. It was awesome.
“So much has changed, though, with both the economy and the car parts,” he continued. “I used to have people asking for the works when they come in. Now everyone wants a phone call to approve every drop of oil.”
He also lamented the other ways in which the business has changed in recent years.
“I spend thousands a year to constantly update these automated diagnostic tools now, and, 70 percent of the time, that check engine light is a loose gas cap,” Mr. Everett said. “It’s all computers and specialty parts.
“Today, I don’t know what to say,” he added. “There is nothing enjoyable anymore in cars. Some things are easy to do, less of a headache than other things, but nothing is worthwhile.”
But despite his lack of enthusiasm for auto repairs these days, Mr. Everett insists that sole focus makes things easier than when he had to also worry about selling Texaco gas as well, which he did up until 1990. “When Suffolk County changed the regulations for below-ground fuel tanks, it was going to cost me $350,000 to replace my tanks. I went to my bank and they laughed at me,” Mr. Everett recalled. “I don’t miss the gas business, believe me. It was robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Regardless, the daily mental grind of the job isn’t forcing Mr. Everett to sell his business to a plumbing and heating company—the physical toll on his legs is. He would not divulge the name of the would-be buyer, nor when the sale would be finalized.
When asked if his leg pain is anything in particular, possibly arthritis of the knees or hips, Mr. Everett simply offers: “It’s called working on cold concrete floors for this long.” He added: “The doctor said expensive tests aren’t even worth it. ‘You’ve gotta get off your feet.’ The joints have just progressively been getting worse. It used to be the end of the day, like 5 or 6, that my legs would really hurt. Now, around noon, sometimes I have to sit down.”
What does the not-quite-old-enough-to-retire owner plan to do with his newfound free time?
“I’m not sure, it really hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m going to have to find something to do before I retire, maybe do some work around the house,” he said, pointing out the window toward the house he shares with his wife, Debbie, just down the road from the shop and his childhood home. “I’ve been working on cars six days a week for 40-something years now.”
Mr. Everett later admitted that even with his soon-to-be new freedom, he feels at home with tools in his hands and might work on an old fixer-upper that he bought years ago.
“A longtime summer customer used to stop in with a Ford Mustang Shelby. I fell in love with that car,” Mr. Everett said, again smiling. “With that in mind, I bought a Mustang frame and engine years ago, and put it in my basement. I’ve been waiting on striking it rich to fix it up, but now …”