Transforming the Auto Repair Industry: The Remarkable Journey of Mitchell Manuals

Glenn Mitchell: Revolutionizing the Auto Repair Industry with a Lasting Legacy

“Necessity is the mother of invention” – a saying attributed to the ancient philosopher Plato – holds true during times of crisis and war. World War II put this notion to the test, as the United States faced scarcity and rationing of essential items ranging from sugar to meat to gasoline and tires. Amidst the war effort, even the production of new cars came to a halt.

Automobile dealers and independent repair shops faced the massive challenge of keeping existing cars and trucks on the road for the duration of the war. For those hard-pressed repair shops, finding replacement parts was also no small feat.

After the war ended, Americans were ready to start replacing their old worn-out cars, but it would be some time before manufacturers would be producing new cars at even pre-war levels.  Thus, keeping cars on the road remained a challenge. In the face of scarcity, one man, Glenn Mitchell, had an idea.

The Birth of Mitchell Manuals

In 1946, Glenn Mitchell, a parts manager at a Chrysler dealer in San Diego, devised a practical solution to support autobody shops. He began compiling lists of commonly requested parts along with their prices, eliminating the need to search through multiple parts catalogs and pricing sheets.

Thus, time previously spent wading through parts manuals looking up common requests could now be spent helping other customers, thereby saving time and improving efficiency.  Word of Mitchell’s great idea spread rapidly, generating interest from other shops asking to use the lists for their businesses.

Humble Beginnings 

Recognizing the value of the common parts and pricing lists, Mitchell decided to take his idea to the next level. In 1946, with World War II over and America more than ready to get back on the road, Glenn Mitchell transformed his concept into a full-fledged venture. His new business,  which he named  Mitchell Manuals,  was born in his garage.

By making his comprehensive parts lists available to automotive professionals, Mitchell aimed to support the industry and help keep cars on the road during the post-war era when new cars were scarce.

Continued Innovation 

Mitchell Manuals continued to innovate with the development of a Pocket Estimator in 1958. This revolutionary tool made it even easier for shops to estimate jobs by including the labor time estimates for the parts listed.

This integration of parts, prices and labor made it easy for shops to provide accurate estimates to customers and enabled insurance companies to quickly determine repair costs for cars damaged in accidents. Thus, the Pocket Estimator became an invaluable asset in the automotive repair industry.

Legacy and Expansion

Glenn Mitchell’s passing in August 1971 marked the end of an era, but it did not halt the growth of Mitchell Manuals. Prior to his passing, Mitchell Manuals acquired National Automotive Service, an important addition to his company’s range of automotive repair information. The acquisition included the legacy of Samuel Reed and his Reed Service Manual, further bolstering Mitchell Manuals’ foundation. With the foundational elements of parts, pricing, labor and repair information all in place, Mitchell Manuals looked toward a promising future.

The Road Ahead

As the post-war United States witnessed rapid growth in the automotive industry, Mitchell Manuals remained at the forefront, constantly innovating to meet the evolving needs of repair shops. Its commitment to providing accurate and accessible information helped keep cars on the road, ensuring the smooth functioning of transportation networks across the nation. With a future brimming with possibilities, Mitchell Manuals continued to drive innovation and contribute to the automotive repair industry.


Glenn Mitchell’s visionary approach to supporting repair shops during times of scarcity laid the foundation for Mitchell Manuals. From humble beginnings in his garage, the company expanded, incorporating new tools and acquiring valuable resources.

Mitchell Manuals became synonymous with efficient and accurate information in the automotive repair industry, playing a vital role in keeping vehicles on the road. The company’s legacy of innovation continues to drive progress, meeting the needs of repair shops and ensuring smooth transportation in the ever-evolving automotive landscape.

About the Author

Jake Schell

Jake Schell is the Associate Product Manager for Mitchell 1’s commercial vehicle product line. He has been with Mitchell 1 since 2001. Prior to coming to Mitchell 1, Jake spent 20 years as a technician, with Chevrolet Master certification in the transmission category as well as ASE certifications in both car and truck.