Car care: Some things change, some things stay the same at Fall City’s Model Garage

Steve Ramsey, Dennis Musga and Dylan Phifer, part of the team at Fall City’s Model Garage, continue the shop’s 90-year tradition of automative service, in a new era.   - Seth Truscott/Staff Photo
Steve Ramsey, Dennis Musga and Dylan Phifer, part of the team at Fall City’s Model Garage, continue the shop’s 90-year tradition of automative service, in a new era.
— image credit: Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

Keeping the Valley’s cars on the road has been the way of things at Fall City’s Model Garage since 1923.

Dennis Musga has owned and operated Fall City’s Model Garage, backed up by his manager and a crew of six mechanics, since 1985.

The auto repair business is Musga’s career. Out of high school, he attended trade school at Renton Tech, training to be a mechanic. Musga served an apprenticeship at Ford and worked at the Ford dealership at Eastgate for 20 years. Then, he partnered with his Valley-resident brother-in-law to buy the Model Garage when the owners were retiring. Plenty of customers followed from the dealership, Musga said.

“It’s always been ‘treat a customer like you want to be treated,’” Musga explains his business philosophy.

That philosophy has paid off. You can usually find the Model Garage by the many cars lined up outside, awaiting attention. Customers roll in from Issaquah, Redmond, Carnation, North Bend. The team, whose mechanics range from apprentices to 20-year veterans, gets to know many of them pretty well.

“All our customers become our friends,” says Musga.

In the old days, all cars, whatever their make, ran on a simple set of systems: distributor, carburator, engine, radiator.

A lot of that simplicity has changed.

“Cars now are all modules and relays,” says Musga. “Everything’s computer controlled.”

Instead of an oscilloscope, mechanics use scanners, and upload computer diagnotic programs into cars.

And, along with electronics, we’ve entered the era of the electric car, for good this time.

Musga has waited a long time for this moment. He recalls the dawn of electrics in the 1980s, and figured they were right around the corner. Instead, Detroit abandoned the electric car for 20 years—until today, when the industry has embraced the technology.

“I don’t think they had the tech then,” he said. “They talked about it many years ago. I never thought I’d be working on cars when it came out.”

For mechanics to transition to the new tech, all it takes is training—just schooling, says Musga.

“These cars are made by man,” he says. “We’re human. We can figure it out. Just give us the training.” He sends his mechanics to class every month for the latest techniques.

The one car that Musga would love to get a chance to work on is the new Tesla electric sedan, the Model S.

“It is the future,” he says. “Here’s another thing that’s going to be the future: Plug-in charging stations. They’re going to be everywhere. You won’t have to worry about gasoline damaging the environment.”

• The Model Garage is located at 33805 Redmond-Fall City Road. Call (425) 222-5751 or visit

Courtesy photo

Pictured above, circa 1930, Fall City’s Model Garage has a long history of auto service in the Valley, going back to 1923.



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