One of Evel Knievel’s cars sits outside the front door of Boston Subaru in Soldotna, and a map of the famous stunt man’s hometown of Butte, Montana hangs on the wall.
Butte is Donald Boston’s hometown, too. Boston, the owner of the repair shop, said he never knew Knievel personally but saw his stunts half a dozen times. When it’s in good repair, the car can go up to about 40 miles per hour, but it’s set aside for some work right now, he said.
As are many others in the garage. Boston Subaru recently moved across the Kenai Spur Highway from its former location — where it was called AAA Subaru — into a brand new shop with nine bays and new equipment. The total process took about a year and a half, and Boston said he did a lot of the work himself.
“I was putting in 20-hour days a lot,” Boston said. “I haven’t had a day off since… June, I think? A while.”
The new shop, located next to the Soldotna Elks Lodge on the Kenai Spur Highway, isn’t quite finished yet. There will eventually be tanks to fill oil stationed on a loft above the main garage floor, and other little things remain to be done, Boston said. However, the business officially moved into the new garage on Jan. 3.
They’ll keep the old shop across the highway for spillover and spare storage, Boston said. Eventually, the shop will have the capability to do body work as well, though that requires a large investment.
By the time that happens, though, Boston’s son, Walter, will be taking over. Walter Boston said body work is popular in Alaska, but the buy-in is expensive and it will probably be about a year before they have that capability.
“It takes a lot of startup money, like $80,000,” Walter Boston said. “You have to have three big mixing racks … then you gotta mix it yourself. It takes experience. There are a lot of people that do it, but not that great.”
Donald Boston, who said he has run the mechanic shop for about 15 years, was planning to retire without the expansion before Walter “talked me into doing it,” he said. He said he was introduced to mechanics while working on a salvage ship in the Bering Sea out of Dutch Harbor. A veteran, he went on to obtain a degree in mechanics and operated a Subaru shop in Anchorage before coming to the Kenai Peninsula.
“Anchorage just got too big for me,” Donald Boston said. “I love it down here. I’ve been all over Alaska, and this is the best place to live in Alaska.”
The shop deals specifically with Subarus, which Donald Boston called “Alaska’s car” because they are all four-wheel drive. It is an independent Subaru repair shop and serves the entire peninsula, he said.
Throughout his time as a business owner in Soldotna, Donald Boston said he has been developing relationships in the community. He worked with a Soldotna contractor to design and construct the new building, and the sign overhead — a hand-painted image of the Kenai River — was designed and painted by a local painter, he said.
Once Walter Boston begins to transfer into more of an ownership role, his father said he plans to spend a little more time recreating.
“I’ll stay for a few years, until he gets a handle on it,” Donald Boston said. “Then I’m gonna go fishing.”