As a young man, Gabi and his older brother, Johnny, worked alongside their father in the family automotive business. With more than 40 years in the automotive industry, Gabi has seen enormous changes. When Gabi was learning his craft, he says, “cars and trucks were much simpler then – no computers!”
From 1963 to 1968, Gabi entered several, timed contests designed to measure the skill and accuracy of the finest mechanics. The objective was to take an engine that had been pulled apart – down to nuts and bolts – and put it back together again, faultlessly.
Gabi has always been competitive, whether it’s playing his favorite game of backgammon – “tavlah” – or racing Harley Davidson motorcycles – Gabi is a keen competitor; he plays to win.
Jaguars have always been Gabi’s favorite vehicle – the XKE in particular, British racing green, of course.
Gabi won the Jaguar competitions, hands down. As his brother Johnny says, “Nobody even came close to Gabi.” But Gabi’s personal, favorite competition involved a 1966 Chevrolet Camaro. It had a 454 engine, dual 4 barrel carburetors with a super charger. If you ask him about it, Gabi’s face becomes animated and his hands start to fly as he remembers that particular competition. “Whew,” he says, “now that – that – was hard, very hard.” He won.
Family means the world to Gabi – literally. He brought his family to the United States to give them the best opportunities. He and his wife Georgette have been married for years and they have four children: Arlette, Vicky, Eli and Suzanne. Gabi and Georgette have eight grandchildren, with Adrianna—Eli and Michelle’s daughter—being the youngest.
Gabi and his brother owned a few successful automotive shops over the years, which fostered an incredible atmosphere of learning for their young sons. Naturally, when Poway Import Auto Experts opened, Gabi came long, working hard as always and sharing his vast automotive knowledge while also keeping the atmosphere light.
Just recently, Eli asked Gabi to take on the responsibility of managing Poway Auto Machine, Eli’s newest shop. We miss Gabi’s stories, his good humor, his exceptional skills and his fountain of automotive history and lore. But he still stops in occasionally – to check on us – making sure we’re taking good care of Eli and this shop. After all, isn’t that what dads do for their sons? Especially men like Gabi Laow who have a long, storied career in the automotive industry.