'Private Automobiles Are the Spawn of the Devil,' Says Owner of Cleveland Heights' Lusty Wrench Auto Shop, Now Closed After 40 Years


  • Photo courtesy Lusty Wrench/Facebook
For the last 40 years, auto mechanic Sam Bell has made no bones about his thoughts on people's dependency on private vehicles. And as the owner of the Lusty Wrench in Cleveland Heights, he's been in a unique position of fixing those cars all while touting an eco-friendly ideology.

“The world is on fire, and we in Northeast Ohio live in an air-quality non-attainment zone," Bell told the Heights Observer last month, soon after retiring from the business and officially closing his shop. "The private automobile is the spawn of the devil. Give up your car, at least as much as you can: walk, bike, take public transit, or carpool instead.”

Bell is still cleaning out the space that's been an auto shop since the 1920s when we caught up with him earlier this week. He says he agrees with his previous statement, that cars are of the devil. But he currently owns cars, too. He's not saying people need to give them up entirely, just be conscientious of their carbon footprint.

"I’ve said that for the past 40 years and I’ve been servicing [cars] in that time," Bell says. "The theory was that I could make them somewhat better than they were. I’ve been trying to reduce the pollution."

Over the last decades, Bell's business has won many awards locally and nationally for service as well as its environmentally-friendly attitude, but now it's time for him to move on.

"I’m very proud," the 69-year-old says. "I’ve had a wonderful time with my customers who are the greatest people around, and they’ve been supportive of our shop."

Bell isn't retiring entirely however. He's still a part of the Cleveland Heights Transportation Advisory Committee and has a new start-up company RoadPrintz, which is creating a robotic system to more cost-effectively paint city roads.

Even though he's no longer working with customers on a day-to-day basis, Bell offers these easy tips to help the environment:
1. Keep the air pressure in your tires regulated, as low air means your car is using more fuel.
2. Routinely maintenance your car, as healthy cars are cheaper and better for the environment. 
3. Plan your trips, rather than stopping back at your house in between errands and events. This saves gas.
4. Reduce the amount of meat you eat, especially beef.
5. Get a bike and ride it when you can. (Bell has two bikes, one for winter and one for the rest of the year. He tries to ride them as much as possible).
6. Give up watering your lawn and grow your own food in a garden.
7. Purchase LED lights for your home, as they're far more energy efficient.

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