Al Porcelli, a Brooklyn native who was an auto-mechanic, owner of a long-standing Glendale auto repair shop and fierce advocate for the collision-industry, died on Tuesday, April 7, of natural causes. He was 95.
Born in Brooklyn in 1924, Porcelli began working in an auto-electric shop next to his parent’s Atlantic Avenue home at the age of 10. By the time he graduated high school, he had become a master at servicing cars.
After high school, Porcelli joined the Navy during World War II and soon became a top fighter-aircraft mechanic at Pearl Harbor. Four years later, he returned home to Brooklyn and began working at a collision shop in Queens.
It was during this time Porcelli married his neighbor and childhood-sweetheart Orrie, with whom he had three sons: Michael, Dennis and Anthony.
Porcelli began working toward opening up his own shop, and in 1949, with his co-worker and fellow-veteran Henry Keller, he did just that. Central Avenue Collision Works, a two-car garage on Central Avenue and Cypress Hills Street in Glendale, would move locations five years later to a much larger, fully-equipped facility just across the street .
Al’s oldest 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 ownership.
One of Porcelli’s biggest goals in life was advocating for the collision industry and educating others about it. Around 1960, he helped form the Auto Body Craftsmen’s Guild of New York City, one of the earliest collision trade associations. Porcelli served in every leadership position in the organization and was the longest-surviving guild founder.
Porcelli spent over 60 years advocating for better trade education in public schools and within the industry. He testified during numerous government hearings on behalf of the industry, vehicle safety and consumer protection issues. Porcelli was an advocate for Automotive Service Excellence testing, so much so that he created a testing site in the guild’s office in Glendale and encouraged all guild members to become certified.
For the past 30 years, Porcelli worked as the editor of the guild’s magazine, the Bulletin, for which he wrote hundreds of articles. He was a self-taught researcher and author.
Customers and friends of Porcelli’s are encouraged to reach out to Michael Porcelli and share stories of his father by phone at 718-821-7868 or by email at [email protected]