"If I come by and find him down in the dumps about something, I'll just pat him on the back and thank him for patronizing me all those years," said York. "But sometimes it's hard to talk to him because, if he's not repairing a car, he's here in the office talking on the phone.
"Yeah, I think Estill does a lot of counseling by phone," he said. "He's like a psychiatrist, advising people about this or that.
"And sometimes when he's talking about car repair, I'll hear him to tell the caller how to fix his problem," said King. "I feel like telling Estill to hush up and tell the caller to come in and have Estill fix it. He loses a lot of money telling people how to do their own repairs.
"And he also loses money he could be making by that psychiatrist work he does over the phone," King added with a laugh.
Apparently, Sims is busy enough when he's off the phone to keep his business going - an auto repair garage that, after 35 years in existence, has become a fixture on the east side of town.
"With all the technology that we've gone to in recent years, it's been kind of tough, but I have tried to keep up," said Sims, 58. "I love cars and fixing them so much that I decided I was going to do whatever it took to stay on top of the latest in repair technology.
"I've loved tinkering with cars since I was a kid, and I love it so much still that I want to do it for the rest of my life," he said. "In fact, when people ask me if I'm thinking of hanging it up, I tell them: My retirement plan is Bellevue Cemetery."
Started working on cars when he was 12
Sims started working on cars when he was 12 years old and got a job at the old Hodges Garage on Earl Street. "I found the cars real interesting, all these parts working together to make a car run. When they (parts) weren't working right, I liked trying to figure out how to make them work right. "Whatever else I was doing - school or other jobs - my goal always had been to work on cars."
Sims opened a car repair garage in a small building on Stanford Avenue that he rented from the late Eben Henson, owner of nearby Pioneer Playhouse. "There was room in that building just for one car. That was it," he said.
But that was enough for Sims to make sufficient money, after four years, to move into a larger building on Hope Street. After six years there, he moved to his current facility on Stanford Road, across from Bate Middle School, and that's where he's been for the last 25 years.
Sims, who has two full-time employees, works on an average of 75 vehicles during a five-day week. He handles cars and trucks, foreign and domestic. And his customers come from as far away as Cincinnati and Louisville, as well as Lexington and all parts of central Kentucky. He also services cars, trucks and vans owned by small companies.
He has been able to maintain a strong and consistent customer base because he has kept up with the new technology now involved in auto repairs.
"It would be hard for me as a 10th-grade dropout to start an independent car repair business," he said. "To make any money at all, you need a high school education plus years of training to be a technician.
"But since I was already in the business and had a lot of experience in car repair when the modern technology - the computers and sensors in the cars and the computers needed to diagnose the problems and repair them - I decided not to be intimidated and to invest the time and money in equipment and education."
Computer system takes up lot less space
For instance, Sims spent $2,000 on an Alldata system that contains information comparable to what would be found in manuals and books that "could easily fill two big rooms, and I would much rather click around on a computer than leaf through hundreds of books."
He said the computer system contains data on every vehicle made from 1982 to the present, and it can locate problems and tell exactly how to fix them, complete with pictures. The system also can indicate if there is a recall or any repair bulletins on a particular vehicle.
Sims attends classes and seminars on vehicle repair and the latest equipment and techniques used in making the repairs. "Another big change over the years has been the cost of insurance," he said. "In 1981, my liability and the other insurance I needed cost me $800 a year. Now it's $7,000."
Sims plans to keep on top of new technology and equipment as long as he is - to put it the way he would - on top of the ground.
"I love what I do so much, I want to keep doing it for the rest of my life," he said. "I enjoy visiting my daughters (Teresa Burns and Lisa Tipton, both of Ohio), and I have hobbies, like fishing and riding motorcycles, and I also am a licensed pilot and love flying. "But there's nothing I'd rather do than repair cars. And having my friends here at the loafing lounge makes it even more enjoyable."