"Before the mechanic would take a lot more."
Translation:Prima il meccanico prendeva molto di più.
Curious: why is this 'prima' instead of 'primo'? I was expecting it to be masculine to match the noun 'il meccanico'.
Two slightly different meanings of "would". The above translation (with the imperfect) says that the mechanic was in the habit of taking more. Your translation (with the conditional) says that given the proper conditions he was disposed to take more.
Italian doesn't use the "would" forms in the same way we do in english all the time. In english we often say "i would go to the beach in southern france in the summers" to mean it was a past action. But we also use it as a conditional. In italian the would form is only used as a conditional and not used as a past habitual action.