In Reply to: Shade tree mechanic posted by RRC on September 30, 2008 at 12:53:
: : I have often heard the phrase "shade tree mechanic" used during my time as an automotive enthusiast. Often it is used to refer to someone who takes unconventional or "trashy" approaches to finding creative solutions to problems. I have also heard it used as a kind of joke; to call someone a "shade tree mechanic" carries a connotation that implies they are somehow lewd or lascivious. Can anyone shed some light on the actual meaning of this phrase by detailing its etymology and explaining to me once and for all why it is such a regularly laughable turn of speech to automotive enthusiasts?
: A proper mechanic works on a car in a proper garage where he has all the proper tools, equipment, manuals, etc., while an amateur parks it in the shade of a tree and goes at it with baling wire and duct tape. I'm not sure where you're getting the idea of lewd (immoral, usually sexually) or lascivious (driven by lust).
Some guys have a full-time job and, in their off-hours, fix cars for friends and paying customers. I don't think it means that they are inept, etc., it is just that they don't have a proper garage.