Today, everyone knows I-CAR as the premier training arm of the collision repair industry. But in the earliest days of the automobile, training for automobile mechanics was tough to come by. In the earliest days there was no differentiation between mechanical technicians and “body-men”. Oddly, it was the Young Men’s Christian Association, the YMCA, that answered the call.
After an earlier focus of training young men for the ministry, the YMCA’s management endorsed general education work in 1889. It was not long after that they turned to training young men in the new technology of auto repair. By 1900, 288 chapters nationwide enrolled over 24,000 students in various vocational courses. By about 1905, the Automobile Club of America persuaded the YMCA education committee to train chauffeur/mechanics and thus an automotive curriculum became available in Boston and New York. It became the YMCA’s job to produce “competent and reliable men” who would be employed by the city’s “wealthy motorists and garagemen.” The YMCA’s auto technician training lasted until the end of WWI.