Where does the owner of a classic car go for repairs? If you take your car to most of the “big-box” franchise repair operations, and you’ll likely be told: “Sorry, we don’t have a listing for that model”.
Not so at L and L Automotive in Dripping Springs. In fact, owner Larry White actively solicits customers who own classic vehicles. As Larry puts it: “I had a successful career in sales, but was not really happy with my job. Every night I’d go home and work on one of my classic cars.. that’s really what I wanted to be doing. One day a friend at a repair shop near Dripping Springs offered to sell his exhaust/muffler business to me. I didn’t have to think long about that proposal, and before I knew it, I was in the auto repair business”.
Larry’s first business location was situated in two bays owned by the guy who sold him the muffler business. However, it wasn’t long before word got out that Larry White was the place to go for exhaust systems. Eventually Larry and his wife Lois were able to purchase their own land and construct a building for “L and L Mufflers” (located right on Highway 290 a few miles east of Dripping Springs).
But then customers starting asking the shop to perform other maintenance on their cars… brakes, air conditioning, suspension, etc. In short order, the muffler shop had morphed into a full service repair center, and the name was changed to “L and L Automotive” to reflect their expanded services.
I first met Larry about 8 years ago when I walked into his business in search of a short length of exhaust tubing for repair of my vintage Ferrari. It was after normal business hours, and Larry was the only one left in the shop. I asked if I could buy a short piece of tubing. Without blinking an eye, Larry (whom I hadn’t previously known) looked at me, and in a serious tone just said “Nope”… a short silence.. “But I’ll GIVE you that pipe”! So I explained to him what I was trying to accomplish. Larry could see that a successful and neat repair was going to require expanding the pipe on one end in order to mate corectly with the existing pipe. He spent about 30 minutes making the pipe fit perfectly, and then we talked about cars for another hour or so. Total cost: Nothing!
That’s the way Larry seems to operate. Of course he is in business to make a living, but his primary goal, by his own admission, is to “be surrounded by old cars“. On any given day, there are the usual and expected daily drivers owned by his customers, in for maintenance or repairs. But at the same time it is almost a certainty that one or more interesting classic or vintage cars will be found in a service bay, awaiting the L and L treatment.
And Larry is not just a guy who “talks the talk”. He is definitely a lifelong bona fide car guy himself, dating back to his first vehicle, a 1956 Dodge Coronet 440, and followed right behind by a 1952 Harley chopper. His current collection includes a beautiful mid-50’s Mercury 2 door hardtop (turquoise and white, of course), a pristine ’72 Lincoln, and a couple of cars undergoing complete restoration, such as a Pontiac GTO and a Chevy Nova.
But then Larry is not just a one-pony show. As a Port Arthur native, and a long-time good friend of Clifford Antone, owner of renowned “Antone’s Night Club” in downtown Austin (now deceased), Larry has always been a fan of good Austin-style music. He has amassed a huge collection of valuable original band posters for such greats as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Janis Joplin, Freddie King, Muddy Waters, and many more.. most of these posters having been collected over the years at concerts Larry has attended.
Additionally, Larry has an envious collection of vintage motorcycles, all of which are in like-new condition, and run the full gamut, including Norton, Triumph, BSA, and a beautiful collection of early Hondas.
Over the years, L and L Automotive has expanded from its original multi- bay facility, to include an additional building of similar size, while yet another expansion is planned in the near future to accommodate customer demand.
Larry has hand-picked a group of experienced technicians for his staff, including a 30-year exhaust systems technician for his muffler shop.
It just goes to show that the key to success in this industry is to provide good, honest, competent service at a competitive price, and to treat your customers as friends.