Ratty's Jamaican Muffler Shop and Bar: Fix It Up, Forget It!

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
rattys jamaican muffler shop and bar fix it up forget it

When the 24 Hours of LeMons HQ crew left the season-ending Miami race on New Year’s Day, we didn’t go back home. No, we got right on a plane to northern Jamaica for our corporate retreat!

Of course, a LeMons corporate retreat means that we spend most of our time washing down curry goat, mannish water, and festivals with 120-proof “Jancro Batty” (warning: don’t use that term around polite Jamaicans, because it also means something intolerably obscene) which moonshine rum, which involves a lot of driving on some of the wildest not-quite-two-lane, not-quite-blacktop “highways” imaginable. More on that, and what we’ve discovered is the Greatest Vehicle You Can’t Buy In The U.S.A., later.

Driving from Montego Airport to our villa in the hills above Ocho Rios, Chief Perp Lamm ran his rented Yaris (a car not well-suited to the rigors of Jamaican roads, as it turns out) over a huge rock in the pothole-a-second Fern Gully— while dodging a stray dog— and punctured the sidewall. Fortunately, the car came with a full-sized spare.

In the Walkerswood area of St. Ann’s Parish, everyone knows that Ratty’s will take care of your vehicular maladies— whatever they may be. You roll up, chat with the guys hanging around the tubing bender, and let Ratty know what you need.

Ratty specializes in exhaust-system work, but he’s part of a huge network of savvy wrenches who can get you anything from a rebuilt engine for your Toyota Noah to tinted windows for your Suzuki Alto (99% of the vehicles in Jamaica appear to be late-model Japanese products).

Our sidewall puncture was sent out to a Ratty-affiliated tire man’s shop and taken care of, no problem. 300 Jamaican dollars, or about $3.50.

Sure, you’re not supposed to do this, but we need an emergencies-only spare for the rent-a-Yaris and we aren’t driving back to the rental agency in Montego Bay to get one.

Our Jamaican host had a burned-out taillight in his Isuzu diesel pickup, so one of Ratty’s comrades swapped the bulb for him. The price? “Just buy me one drink, mon.”

The shop is just a couple of little buildings to keep the rain off the tools and a few welded-rebar ramps for getting under cars, because that’s all you really need in a mild climate like Jamaica’s; a quick phone call from Ratty to one of his many mechanic buddies is all that’s needed to fetch the necessary parts and/or skills.

Let’s take a moment to admire the bare-bones simplicity of Ratty’s welder.

Here’s an ’81 Isuzu pickup with a replacement bed Ratty built from scratch.

Here’s an innovation that we’d like to see spread to the United States: this automotive repair shop has its own bar! Ratty’s Bar wasn’t open when we dropped by, but we hear the place really jumps when it’s in action. You see, Ratty’s isn’t just a shop– it’s a major local gathering place and socializing destination.

It goes without saying that Ratty’s Bar has become an important watering hole for the 24 Hours of LeMons HQ staff while in Jamaica.

I’ll try to get some more cars-in-Jamaica posts done while I’m here, if this brief window to the internet persists in staying open; otherwise, I’ll be back in full effect on Sunday. For now, it’s time to head back to Ratty’s for a few rum-&- Ting s!













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  • Jwalks Jwalks on Aug 22, 2011

    The vast majority of cars in jamaica are Japanese. Most are used from Japan, and are just as good as a brand new car in most cases (which included a 2003 Honda Stream purchased by my family a few years ago) and the remainder of cars would include brand new cars imported by the various new car dealers for all the different brands. And a fair mix of brand new and used European and american imports. I my self own a 1998 Mitsubishi Lancer glxi. I am the second owner and the car was brought in brand new by the Mitsubishi dealer of that time.

  • DeadFlorist DeadFlorist on Jan 22, 2012

    Income and life satisfaction, by country, are roughly correlated. However, there are outliers on either side. Jamaica is one such, a nation that is way too happy for its income level. This should come as no surprise to anybody who's been there. A truly enchanting culture.

  • Jkross22 This might just be me, but the times that I've driven an EV, I use the brake regen paddles to quell my inner MT/control freak nature.
  • Randy in rocklin I had a 82 733 at one time. It was an awesome car. Good power and great handling. Smooth shifting and ride.
  • Jkross22 Gavin Newsom may not be aware of the fiscal problems of the state he leads, as his focus is on criticizing other states. It's actually better that he has someone shining a laser light on a map so he can stop making things worse here. Just lace his hair gel with some catnip and have him hit himself trying to get to it. Things in LA are getting so bad that even the leftists and progressives are showing up to LA city council meetings with mirrors to protest, well, everything - gas prices, the homeless pandemic, the house pricing pandemic, the crime pandemic. It shocked the City Council that their subjects dare attempt to ask for accountability. The Council president insisted that people with mirrors be escorted out, lest the council be reminded of their incompetence and hubris. That being said, there is no connection being made between the way LA subjects vote and the results it yields. Never underestimate the stupidity of the typical CA voter. The state is a basketcase but voters keep electing the same retreads every time.
  • ScarecrowRepair Too much for too little, unless you treat it strictly as a toy.
  • DedBull Mk2 Jettas are getting harder to find, especially ones that haven't been modified within an inch of their life. I grew up in an 85 GLI, and would love to have one in as close to stock configuration as I could get. This car isn't that starting point, especially sitting 3-4 years in the NY dirt. It's a parts car at best, but there might still be money in it even at that price, if you are willing to take it down to absolutely nothing left.
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