Since he opened his business in 1982, Kevin Fitzgerald has saved newspaper clippings and ads. Photo by Anne O’Connor

Kevin’s Automotive closes, leaving only stories behind 

March 4, 2024

By Anne O’Connor  —  

When Kevin Fitzgerald looks around his hometown, he sees years of automotive businesses in Concord, even the ones no longer in existence.  

The first garage he worked in as a Concord-Carlisle High School student, Dalton and Robinson on Thoreau Street, is gone. “I knew more than the teachers knew,” the 1973 graduate said.   

The property is now a Starbucks.  

The downtown Ford garage is no more.  

Once, there were 17 service stations east of Route 2 in Concord, Fitzgerald said. Now that he’s retired and closed his shop at the end of February, one remains.  

“I’m 69 years old. It’s time,” Fitzgerald said of his decision to retire. 

Kevin Fitzgerald retired at the end of February, closing Kevin’s Automotive. Photo by Anne O’Connor

His is the story of small business success. He bought the Concord Oil building on Lowell Road in 1982 and opened Kevin’s Automotive.   

The two bays, each with a lift, supported him and his family. His brother, Robert, is the only long-term employee who ever worked at the garage. When Kevin was out sick for a few months, someone filled in temporarily.  

Running a business that customers rely on takes dedication. Vacations meant taking each Friday off during the summer.  

“I’m not much on travel,” he said. Instead, the avid fisherman rehabbed a house in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, near Lake Winnipesaukee.   

Before the shop doors closed for the last time, a row of shop manuals lined a shelf in the office. Fitzgerald once had many more, around 150 from 1970 to 2008, but the days of a book for each vehicle have passed. Now, the information is online.  

Maintenance has evolved, too. Newer cars rely on electronics to run, he said. “You can’t even check the oil,” he said. The most modern vehicles don’t have dipsticks.  

Shop Talk

The accomplished mechanic enjoys retelling some of his more unusual stories.  

In the 1970s, maybe even when he was still in high school, the State Police needed his help, but not with a car or truck.  

They couldn’t get the helicopter started.  

Fitzgerald got the bird going, and the pilot flew it from the barracks to Hanscom.  

A parade passed Concord Oil, later Kevin’s Automotive. Two of the cars parked facing the street probably belonged to Kevin Fitzgerald’s parents. Photo courtesy of Kevin Fitzgerald  

When the automotive tech teacher at CCHS was out for six months in the 1990s, Fitzgerald stepped in to cover. He enjoyed the experience and came away with another tale.  

The plan was to teach the students the basics about maintaining a vehicle. Changing a tire was the day’s activity.  

After having a high schooler bring his vehicle inside, Fitzgerald asked what the first step for repair should be. The answer supplied by a student was, “Call AAA.”   

Today, his advice to students is to learn to repair electric vehicles. They are the wave of the future.  

Fitzgerald sold his property to Haffner’s. The oil company will likely use it for storage, he said.  

As for what’s next? “I’m not one to hang around the house,” he said. Golf and fishing are favorite hobbies.  

He wants to thank his customers for patronizing the shop through the years.