Despite the apartments slowly closing in around him, Graham Piera has been fixing cars on the beach end tof Nott Street for 23 years. The owner and operator of GNP Automotive, Graham Piera offers old-school service for cars of any age, make and model.
PM: How did you come to fix cars here in Port Melbourne?
Graham: I’ve always loved cars. As a child I tinkered around with cars with my Dad. At 16 I started my auto electrical apprenticeship and I’ve been doing pretty much this ever since. I took this place over from an older fellow 23 years ago. I guess I’ll be here ‘til my time is up.
PM: So you’ve been fixing cars for 44 years! What do you love about what you do?
Graham: The diversity in the job has been great. There was a time when you were either an auto electrician, or a mechanic. Now, to survive, you have to be both. But to be honest, I love the satisfaction of overcoming a problem and making things work.
PM: Are there particular cars you love to work on?
Graham: On a personal level I love old English cars, but I wouldn’t survive if I only did that. To be honest, I’ll take a look at anything. I have really loyal clients, so I’ll have a go at fixing anything they’re driving.
PM: Has fixing cars made you capable of fixing other things in your life?
Graham: I guess it has? So many skills in this work are transferrable – electrics, hydraulics, plumbing. So yes, I can pretty much turn my hand to anything if I need to.
PM: Have you ever come across something you couldn’t fix?
Graham: Yes lots! In my situation I can’t take on really big jobs. I just don’t have the time and manpower for it. For instance, I can’t be pulling engines out and replacing them, there’s just simply too much labour in it and I couldn’t service my regular clients. But I’ve never turned anyone away. I’ll always take a look and see if we can determine the problem.
PM: Can it be hard to work out what’s wrong with a car?
Graham: I think experience makes it easier, but it’s hard when people jump on the internet forums and come to conclusions based on what they’ve read. It’s not uncommon these days to have people come in and say, “the forums say this is the problem – can you fix that.”
PM: Like Dr Google for cars? People really do that?
Graham: Yes, exactly like that! I always tell them it’s hard because if they’re wrong, they’ve wasted a lot of time and money on repairs that won’t fix the problem. Customers often like to source their own parts these days too. People have become so cost aware. It presents additional challenges, but times have changed.
PM: If you weren’t fixing cars what do you think you’d be doing?
Graham: Sitting on a beach drinking pina coladas! But seriously, I’d probably be doing something else with my hands. I’m a doer. My whole life has been spent on the move, doing something – I can’t imagine sitting around doing nothing.
Does your car need fixing?
See Graham at
GnP Automotive Electrical
Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm
27 Nott Street, Port Melbourne
Ph: 9645 2236