In 1963 Hal Johnson was just
finishing a tour of duty with the United States Army. He had been stationed in Italy. His wife had been able to live with him there and work in Verona. Marjorie had recently given birth to their first
son, Eric. While shopping one evening they passed a nearby
auto showroom and spotted a Maserati 3500GT for sale. It
took all their savings, but they bought it.
months later when Hal left the military he was able to
ship the car back to the U.S. Finding someone competent to
service the Maserati in their hometown of Modesto, Ca.
proved to be difficult. Hal found himself doing more and
more of the maintenance and repairs on the car himself.
For some of the more difficult operations Hal found
himself using World Imported Car Service in San Leandro,
World, at that time was owned
by an Italian man named Alberto Zufato. Hal and Alberto
struck up a friendship and Hal found himself more and more
often helping Alberto repair cars. Alberto taught Hal
about Maserati's gave him a good traditional foundation
for auto repair. Hal found he was very good as a mechanic
and decided to try it professionally. Hal, Marjorie and
their growing family moved to the San Francisco Bay area
soon thereafter. Hal worked for Alberto for several years
and eventually bought the business in 1968 when Alberto
decided to move back to Italy.
Imported, was at that time located at 15225 Hesperian
Blvd. in San Leandro. Hal ran the business with
Marjorie handling the book-keeping. The shop had an
emphasis on European cars from the start with Italian,
English, German and French cars all being serviced. In the
late 60's the Japanese cars began to come into the mix as
In the late '70's Hal's
oldest son Eric began to learn the trade and contribute
significantly to repair and management operations. With
steady growth, World Imported had begun to outgrow their
location on Hesperian Blvd, and moved to their new larger
location at 355 E. 14th street in 1987. By this time the
shop emphasis was definitely German and Swedish cars as
many of the Italian and English cars had ceased to be
imported to the U.S.
World has continued in our
tradition of hiring technicians with a passion for the
European car experience and provides them with the latest
training and diagnostic tools available. Although Hal and
Marge retired several years ago, Eric and his Wife Arlene
continue to run the shop with the traditional values and
commitment to customer satisfaction that have allowed the
business to thrive for over 40 years.