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Best Car Repair 

Cowden Automotive

875 Folsom (at Fifth Street), 777-9858,

We once had a 1987 Honda that Cowden Automotive perpetually kept two steps ahead of a systemwide failure. We'd bring it in with our dilemma ("We need to drive to Mammoth, possibly in a blizzard"), and Cowden's mechanics would fix just enough of the car to get the job done, as our wallet demanded. A broken wheel stud, for instance, never got repaired, and that's what holds the wheel to the car. The staff was candid with us, an attitude that dates back to 1978, when Paul Cowden decided to open a shop "dedicated to honesty and competence" and backed by a revolutionary attitude: friendliness. Now, the gay-owned and -managed shop has a seven-person team, with both male and female technicians, and specializes in Japanese, Volvo, and VW cars. The site, a long warehouse that spans a block, is airy and spacious, well lit, with a 53-yard mural of the Bay Area by Tanya Joyce. And it's nearly spotless, like a garage used to build race cars, not fix Golfs.


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