Photo-essay: Mechanical Works
19 Jul, 2017 | Fabián Zapata
Photos: Fabián Zapata
Translation: Michael Protheroe
Servicing your car in La Paz
In almost every corner of the city, there are built-in makeshift mechanical workshops that meet the demand of ramshackle cars in La Paz. Inside there are hand-painted advertisements, made-up sponsors, disorganised tools, greasy walls, pornographic posters and abandoned cars. The mechanics are exceptionally inventive people who keep all kinds of scrap to create replacement parts for other cars.
I interviewed a few chapista mechanics and torneros to see how they work. I met two brothers: Reynaldo and José who are self taught, needing only to buy themselves some mechanics manuals in El Alto. Today they work from the door of their house, in the middle of the street. On the other hand, there is Don Macario, a personality much loved by Peta enthusiasts. Macario learned in Hansa workshops and today dedicates himself solely to these classic cars which have invaded the city.
Regardless of the amount of clients they have, the remarkable thing about these mechanics is that they work without specific prices. It is very easy to have a car running for a very low cost.
They could install a carburetor into a fuel injection car. With rubber residue and some welding, they give a Suzuki a Toyota’s suspension, a Subaru’s engine, tractor tyres and the electronic brain of a llama. I am obviously exaggerating, but their inventiveness did surprise me.