Stone Age Antiques
Photo by Lou Hammond
Not too long ago, when we were hanging out at Alabama Jack's, a salty dog with pink melanoma on his nose leaned over and asked, "Mate, have you done the Spiegel?" He wasn't talking about the women's clothing catalogue but the U.S. Navy landing ship submerged off Key Largo as an artificial reef. Other barflies at Jack's had bragged about the wreck-diving there before, but this guy was pushy. "It's like a freaky, sunken ghost town down there. I've been down eight times." This sent us over the edge, so we whipped out our iPhone and pulled up the ship's Wiki page. We explained to our margarita-soaked friend that even if the complicated pockets and caverns of the wreck didn't disorient and kill divers, the toxic levels of PCB eventually would. With this, he brandished a rusty ship compass from his pocket and said, "But where would I get these?" We told him even those who stayed on dry land had access to the thousands of sunken treasures. "There's a place," we whispered, "down by the Miami River with ship wheels, anchors, retro metal diving suits, and busty figureheads. It's called Stone Age Antiques. You'll never have to deep-sea dive again."
Angel Sosa Sr. opened Leader Service in 1977 on a high-traffic vehicular artery through the city of Miami. More cars drive past it every day than there are liars in the auto-repair industry, and that's a lot. Today, the shop is busy as ever thanks to a solid reputation for honesty, quality repairs, and commitment to excellence. Look for the Marathon gas pumps out front or you might miss the low-key, signless shop. Angel Jr. began turning wrenches there at the age of 18. Twenty-four years later, he's the boss, but if needed, he'll still get his hands dirty to personally explain what's wrong with your ride. Leader isn't the cheapest shop in town — with oil changes from $29.95, A/C service checks from $39.95, and front brakes on most cars from $129.95 — but we recognize the shop for its honesty. Like Angel Jr. says: "The best advertising is word of mouth. When you walk in knowing that someone was there and left satisfied before you, that's the best." He also offers this free tip: "Maintenance is cheaper than repair. Take care of your car, and you won't need a mechanic to fix it."
Want your hooptie to look a little less crappy? Start by making sure you have four matching hubcaps. Ramirez Tires has an entire lot packed with thousands of hubcaps/wheels/rims/dubs, most of them priced for the extreme budget shopper. For some reason, the grimy employees seem to regard all customers with unveiled animosity, you'll do a lot of pointing if you don't speak Spanish, and the shop's phone is disconnected. But you're looking for a $5 wheel cover for your dented 1994 Corolla. What did you expect, the white-glove treatment?

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®