Al Porcelli, a Brooklyn native who was an auto mechanic, owner of a longtime auto repair shop in Glendale and outspoken advocate for the collision industry, died on Tuesday, April 7 of natural causes. He was 95 years old.
Born in Brooklyn in 1924, Porcelli started working in an electric automobile shop next to his parents’ house on Atlantic Avenue when he was 10 years old. By the time he graduated from high school, he had become a master at car maintenance.
After high school, Porcelli joined the Navy during World War II and quickly became one of the top fighter plane mechanics at Pearl Harbor. Four years later, he returned home to Brooklyn and started working at a collision shop in Queens.
It was during this time that Porcelli married his neighbor and childhood friend Orrie, with whom he had three sons: Michael, Dennis and Anthony.
Porcelli began working to open his own shop, and in 1949, along with fellow veteran Henry Keller, he did just that. Central Avenue Collision Works, a two-car garage at Central Avenue and Cypress Hills Street in Glendale, would move five years later to a much larger, fully equipped facility just across the street.
Al’s eldest son Michael would soon become Porcelli’s partner and the pair worked together until 1990 when Al retired. Central Avenue Collision Works is now run by Michael’s son, the third generation of Porcelli owners.
One of Porcelli’s biggest goals in life was to champion the collision industry and educate others about it. Around 1960, he helped form the Auto Body Craftsmen’s Guild of New York City, one of the first professional auto body associations. Porcelli held every leadership position in the organization and was the guild’s longest-serving founder.
Porcelli has spent more than 60 years advocating for better business education in public schools and within industry. He has testified at numerous government hearings on behalf of industry, vehicle safety and consumer protection issues. Porcelli was an advocate of automotive service excellence testing, so much so that he set up a testing site in the guild’s office in Glendale and encouraged all guild members to become certified.
For the past 30 years, Porcelli has worked as editor of the guild’s magazine, the Bulletin, for which he has written hundreds of articles. He was a self-taught researcher and author.
Customers and friends of Porcelli are encouraged to contact Michael Porcelli and share his father’s stories by phone at 718-821-7868 or by email at [email protected]