We had the good fortune of connecting with Robbie McCarthy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robbie, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I did not set out to become a business. Air-Schooled was “discovered,” almost, by driving around the United States and chatting with owners of classic cars. It turns out, many owners have a desire to bond with their vehicle by doing repairs and maintenance themselves, but lack the confidence, tools, or skills to do so. By bridging that gap, I empower people to become more independent while discovering new ways to enjoy their hobbies.
What should our readers know about your business?
So you just bought a classic car, great! Now it doesn’t sound so good, and keep stalling. Not so great… Less than a handful of cities in North America have affordable and competent classic car repair facilities that are willing to clue the owners in on what goes on under the hood of their car. For everyone else, there’s me! As Air-Schooled, the “vintage Volkswagen repair school,” I travel to vehicle owners all over North America and bridge the gap between driver/owners and mechanics. Since classic cars are hobbies for almost everyone that drives them, the ability to dive deeper into the inner workings brings many people a newfound sense of satisfaction that they didn’t know existed. Not only do we end up making the car run better in the end, but I help car owners build better bonds with their vehicles.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
It’s hard to go wrong in San Diego, and since my ‘work van’ is a classic 1969 VW bus, I would start with a trip to the beach. Many of the San Diego beaches would do fine, but it’s important to have nearby California burritos and local brews accessable too! Even though North County, San Diego is fairly laid back and relaxing, there are tons of outdoor/active lifestyle spots to check out, like the offroad bike parks, various lagoons to paddle board on, and seemingly infinite hiking trails through a myriad of different biomes, all a quick drive from the coast. It would be a crime not to try all different kinds of Mexican food available here; from my experience driving around Turtle Island, NOWHERE else can cook up such delicious and simple tacos. Outside of a pandemic, San Diego also has a blossoming dance music community, with the open-roof club Shelter in Encinitas being my favorite, always booking world-class DJs and mixing up tasty cocktails.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Two people come to mind when I think of my career path. The first is John Muir, (no, not THAT John Muir,) who penned the book “How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive; A Manual of Step-By-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot” in 1969. By teaching owners the basic skills and concepts need to repair their own vehicles, he created a mindset and entire subculture of self-sufficient owner/mechanics. The book is also said to inspire the entire lines of “… For Dummies” and “Idiot’s Guide” instructional books. Most of my work is trying to pass on complex and dangerous mechanical lessons in an easily digestible and safe way, and I thank Mr. Muir for blazing that trail. The second person I have to thank is my mentor Colin of Itinerant-Air-Cooled. He has lapped the USA around twenty times, helping Volkswagen owners all over become their own mechanics. I consider my work to be an extension of what he started, though I am admittedly more connected on social media! A long-term goal of mine is to create a digital space for diagnostic and repair advice that is as easy to read as Muir’s original book, while being detail-oriented and methodical, like Colin taught me to be.