• When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.

Body advice from those who have taken their car to a shop

chrisd

Well-Known Member
Local time
4:45 AM
Joined
Jun 18, 2010
Messages
482
Reaction score
24
Location
Texas
I have two major body work issues holding me up from moving forward. Both repairs are beyond my skill level so I took it to a reputable restoration shop. They specialize in Mopars and had a few there in various stages that looked very good. I spoke with a couple of people and they informed me they charge by the hour and there could be underlying issues that I cannot see so an exact estimate was impossible. I understand all that having grown up around shops. However, one repair is changing a quarter and the other is welding in a trunk pan. So for those who have taken their car to shop, did you hand over a blank check? How did they keep track of hours worked on your car? Having been around body shops, there was always a starting quote and if additional work was required, the customer was notified and made a decision. Is anyone aware of restoration shops in the Houston area? I'd like to get a few quotes. Thanks
20181007_180535.jpg
20181007_180540.jpg
20181007_180546.jpg
20181007_180551.jpg
20181007_180606.jpg
20181007_180611.jpg
20181007_180652.jpg
 
My luck in the "shop" has not been good. I always budget and plan a more than fair amount, but I usually end up doubling that when it comes time to pay. Once you're into it, there's no turning back, as why fix it if it's not done right. The only advice I have is make sure the car is really what you want, something that's rare or limited production, and will have some re-sale value, or that has sentimental value, with cost being no object. Then I would say do as much as possible yourself, including drilling out spot welds, and removing the bad sections, before turning it over to the "pro's"...
 
The car has sentimental value, that's why I haven't scrapped it or given up on it. I don't mind paying for something that is done right, one reason I took it to this shop, but I kinda expected a starting estimate at least. I've been talking to some guys on Facebook about it and they mentioned insurance jobs have hours allotted to them so it's easier to quote, but it was also pointed out that cutting and replacing a rear quarter on a Mopar at a Mopar shop should be straight forward and a shop should have pretty good idea of what it will take time wise.
 
I can give some of my experience as I have gone through exactly what your about to. I would not tell them your budget because if you do, they will always hit it plus some. They have no incentive to be efficient at that point because they know how much you have to spend. If you do, make sure to give them a number much less than your budget so when they try to hit and go over, it's closer to what you expected. As far as hour, my shop billed me weekly and I think most "pro" shops would bill weekly. That way if you decide enough is enough, you can remove it. I will say I did not like how my shop billed my hours as it was vague and could have been for a number of things that I couldn't dispute. I would have liked my invoice to have been more itemized for the work done.

If you do take it to a shop, I would recommend going in every week and comparing your invoice to the amount of work done to see if it passes the smell test. That way you can be sure they aren't fluffing the hours on you. If they are ,you may get popped for one week but at least it should not be the massive amount for a longer time period. Not every shop is bad but it sure seems a lot of us who can't, or don't have time, to do the work ourselves end up in shop jail.

To answer your other question, I did not hand a blank check over but my shop required a deposit to start the work. Not sure if that is industry standard but I would bet its something like that everywhere. I would say if you have a specific list of things you want done, they should be able to give a you a semi-accurate quote because they are not working outside that scope. I hope this helps some and you find a good reputable shop to do the work.
 
I can give some of my experience as I have gone through exactly what your about to. I would not tell them your budget because if you do, they will always hit it plus some. They have no incentive to be efficient at that point because they know how much you have to spend. If you do, make sure to give them a number much less than your budget so when they try to hit and go over, it's closer to what you expected. As far as hour, my shop billed me weekly and I think most "pro" shops would bill weekly. That way if you decide enough is enough, you can remove it. I will say I did not like how my shop billed my hours as it was vague and could have been for a number of things that I couldn't dispute. I would have liked my invoice to have been more itemized for the work done.

If you do take it to a shop, I would recommend going in every week and comparing your invoice to the amount of work done to see if it passes the smell test. That way you can be sure they aren't fluffing the hours on you. If they are ,you may get popped for one week but at least it should not be the massive amount for a longer time period. Not every shop is bad but it sure seems a lot of us who can't, or don't have time, to do the work ourselves end up in shop jail.

To answer your other question, I did not hand a blank check over but my shop required a deposit to start the work. Not sure if that is industry standard but I would bet its something like that everywhere. I would say if you have a specific list of things you want done, they should be able to give a you a semi-accurate quote because they are not working outside that scope. I hope this helps some and you find a good reputable shop to do the work.

Thanks. They say they document by tablet and photos but you're right, how do I know how long it should take and how often they may have taken their time.
 
Trunk and floor pans. 69 Bee. They also worked on my daughters car and also did good work
 
One of the few "good" occasions I had restoing my car was with the body shop I used. Even though mine is a CA car there was more that needed doing that couldn't be fully assessed as the car looked with the paint on it and then I stripped it of all trim and interior, motor, etc. when I trucked it in. The car had been repainted in the '80's before I bought it and this hid some rust areas only visible once the paint was removed. This included the lower trunk floor pan once all the coating was taken off. Despite this the shop gave me breaks they didn't have to do here and there. It's reasonable to expect the shop to toss a quote and qualify it's an estimate...that's body work. My shop took hundreds of photos throughout their work and I'd stop by about every two weeks and they wanted me to do so to chat on what was going on. All told the bill ran about 3 grand more though had some extra work done not originally in the quote too. I thought I got more than a fair deal. Don't ask me about some other work I had done by other shops (motor and ragtop) where the priced ballooned without a good explanation. Sorry my shop is in WI though...
 
One of the few "good" occasions I had restoing my car was with the body shop I used. Even though mine is a CA car there was more that needed doing that couldn't be fully assessed as the car looked with the paint on it and then I stripped it of all trim and interior, motor, etc. when I trucked it in. The car had been repainted in the '80's before I bought it and this hid some rust areas only visible once the paint was removed. This included the lower trunk floor pan once all the coating was taken off. Despite this the shop gave me breaks they didn't have to do here and there. It's reasonable to expect the shop to toss a quote and qualify it's an estimate...that's body work. My shop took hundreds of photos throughout their work and I'd stop by about every two weeks and they wanted me to do so to chat on what was going on. All told the bill ran about 3 grand more though had some extra work done not originally in the quote too. I thought I got more than a fair deal. Don't ask me about some other work I had done by other shops (motor and ragtop) where the priced ballooned without a good explanation. Sorry my shop is in WI though...

Thanks for the reply. I expect them to find more but I also expected a starting figure. That's what was so odd to me.
 
I assume this is a 67 Charger? If the quarter, the outer wheelhouse, and the rear body panel is available, AND
you are going to have them replaced, there is an amount in hours it takes to do them. Motor's Crash estimating
Guide. All the body shops used to use these for estimates and repairs. The hours to repair should definitely be
the same, you just have to multiply by their hourly rate. That should be it! Rust issues are another story. An insurance
company like Haggerty should be able to tell you the hours also, and give you an Idea of the total damages. The time it
takes to do any repair on any car is documented in these repair manuals. You just have to multiply the hours by
their labor rate to find out how much they're screwing you, or not. The problem is that a lot of shops let your car sit
in their shop and stare at it for months without working on it and then want a lot of money because it's tying up
a stall. A collision shop has to get a car in, and fix it! Why shouldn't someone who calls themselves a "Restoration Shop"
take a car in and Fix it in in a timely manner? Before you go in for a "Guestimate", arm yourself with the info you
need to not get screwed, and ask How long the repair will take? You can't get any job done without continuity,
so if they're not working on your car at good long stretches, it'll never get done. They will screw you if you let them!
The only difference between a new car in a body shop and an old car in a body shop are the parts. I've been
a body man in my career, and I have done the same thing to myself with customer's cars. If I don't "shake my ***"'
I can't get the job done in a timely manner, and it feels like a ball & chain. Don't let this happen to you!
 
Well that pretty much sums it up. Thanks Z. And yes it is a 67 charger and that sounds like exactly what I need to do.
 
Worked for corvette restoration shop, we also did restoration work on some of the owners friends cars. There was little to no profit doing restoration work compared to collision work. And when you factor in rust repairs its very costly. Even with the finest Taiwanese replacement sheet metal usually if not always there is additional fabrication work needed. Restoration of older mopars is even more expensive comparatively speaking. Most people not blaming anyone have very little knowledge about what goes into finish bodywork let alone rust repairs.
 
I just did a car over the winter and it was a good experience. My situation was different, I was able to do all my own metal work and rough body work. I turned it over to the shop truely ready to go into high build primer. I wanted the pros to make sure it was straight. I also was able to estimate closely since I did not have rust repair to deal with at the shop. This was a 'by the hour' hot rod shop, not a collision shop. This is what they do everyday.

Here's what I can offer:
- Push them towards and estimate. They're the experts, they have to know roughly what it's going to take. I would never leave a car with a shop that couldn't or wouldn't ball park something. However you can't be the guy would gives them the idea it can't be a penny over.
- Keep a log book and stop by the shop weekly. One of the things body guys can't do is estimate real world time. There's always something else or some delay from personnel, blah blah blah. If they tell you it's a 80 hour job and they plan to have it back to you in two weeks, don't count on it. Double or triple that estimate. You'll be glad you documented. Write down by date when you stopped in and write down what you saw and what they got done from the last visit.
- Weekly invoicing. My shop did weekly invoices, I wasn't a fan of this but it turned out to be a good thing. Example - invoice for 40 hours but looks like they landed a handful of spotwelds that should have taken an hour, question it.
- I also would remind them when we started getting close to budget. We did really good up until the new painter showed up. Great guy but his style was to over do everything. This is required for the product the shop normally puts out but we agreed early on that this was not what I was looking for.

Just to give you an idea, to block the car out a few times and primer a few times then go to paint and clear I had 120 hours in it. Then I still had to bring the car home and wet sand and buff.

IF your structure is good under the trunk and quarters it should be around 40 hours for metal work. Then you need to know where to stop with primer and what you want them to do.

Bottom line is you need to find a shop that's willing to work with you and one that you feel comfortable with.
 
Chris there are many horror stories on this forum about people spending thousands and thousands of dollars only to have their cars returned to them in the same shape they dropped it off in. Be careful!!!! @super-bee_ski comes to mind.
I don't know what part of Texas you are in but I several friends in the Houston area that have built show winning cars (Autorama). They will build repair to what level you want, panel replacement all the way to a complete car. They are not fly by nights and are great people that I could count on for anything I'm sure they will not be the cheapest you could find -,but I can guarantee you that it will be done right .
Bob was called in to work the body by Foose when he did Armstrongs GTO, Jason is working on another SEMA build & Danny just has a long waiting list but can squeeze out smaller projects pretty quick.All are very well known in the Houston area car scene
Of you are interested PM me and I can give you their contact info
 
Mate, I'd go back there and talk to them again. Separate the 2 jobs and then split them down further - using the trunk floor as an example, it's already out so surely they can give you a fairly accurate estimate. Throw some numbers at them e.g. "so to prep the new trunk floor how long do you think, say 2 hours?" Then ask, "so how long to weld it in?", "how long to grind the welds" etc. I'm no bodywork expert, maybe somebody else can chime in with the various steps. Also, agree the scope of works, are they giving it back final painted or just primed? Then you can track the works as it progresses, inspecting it at each stage. It's easier if it's a smaller shop or even better (in my opinion) a one man operation, who you can build trust with. Ask them if there's any time consuming prep work you can do before you give them the car, might save some bucks. Good luck.
 
Adding to my earlier post I've encountered WILD price variances from one shop to the next on my cars aside from the work on my '63 Plymouth. Few years ago I had a nice low mileage Intrigue my wife drove and these cars were notorious for rusting around the fuel filler area. One shop wanted $3,200 to do the job a small shop I had some other work done charged me about $600. It came out fine. Wasn't looking for a Cadillac job on a car worth 4 grand! I just had the same shop I used with the '63 repair rusting on the rear well of my '05 Dakota. It required piecing in new metal and large section of inner well and cost under a grand. Paint match spot on. Turned out just fine as I want to drive it a few more years looking nice as it has 67k on it. One shop only would do the job with a new or cherry box (if I could find one) and of course painting the entire thing for around 4 grand. Of course, depends on what you're looking for...my '63 I wanted a no patch work job and the shop was a stand out in my view. What I took away from some of these body shops I visited is their preference on what jobs they want to do and can afford to decline and/or doing it their way that makes them the highest profit. That's capitalism..
 
This is actually simple to decide, first you need to verify the do good "restoration" work cause it's different than collision. Ask them if you could have a reference of a car they've done work on. If the don't want to give you a reference then walk away. If the guy being a "Mopar restorer" can't give you a starting ball park estimate for a quarter panel replacement then walk away. Flow those 2 rules or you may get hosed.
 
1. I have zero experience with body shops other than a wreck which was not my fault.
Ended up putting a quarter patch in myself.

2. In the state torn down and "stripped" condition on your car it looks to me like they should be able to give you a fairly accurate estimate.
What's not to be seen?
They may be just saying a caveat about hidden things to cover themselves.
That's understandable.

3. Do you have the trim and clips necessary for that quarter ridge? It's not available that I know of. We considered cutting the ridge seam off of ours.
But thought better after looking at the unnecessary work involved and wondering if the ridge does not,in fact, add rigidity to the body.

4. I understand sentimental value. It is worth something.

5 I'm pretty sure the quarter is not reproduced. Shame.

6. If I let someone else work on it. I would draw up a contract.

Here are some ideas.
Maybe not all good
But I doubt any shop would go for some of them .:)









An agreement between XXXXXX(“shop”) and XXXXXX (“customer”)


“Car” herein referred to is a XXXXXXXXXXXX, VIN

Shop and owner have agreed on a method of repair to (insert items)

Damaged metal is to be replaced and the entire contiguous body sections are to be painted to match.

At completion, the metal repair will not be detectable by the customer.

Finished paint quality shall be (what quality?) as judged by the customer.


The shop accepts that the car is in good mechanical and cosmetic condition other than the damage to (insert places).

If any mechanical failure occurs to the car while in the shop’s possession, the customer will be contacted and the shop shall be responsible for repairs to the failure at the customer’s discretion and direction. A mechanical failure can be considered a partial loss under this agreement.


The shop is responsible for any loss or other damage to car while its possession.

A total loss shall have a value of XXXX thousand dollars and the customer shall retain ownership of the car. Theft is considered a total loss.

In the event of a partial loss, the president of the XXXXC MOPAR Club and one other officer of the club will determine the value of said loss. If that does not occur the customer’s attorney shall determine the value of a partial loss. Lack of completion for any reason can be considered a partial loss.

In any case, the customer will retain ownership of the car.


The car will not leave shop’s premises without written authorization from the customer.


Customer shall able to inspect all work at any time at his discretion.



Customer shall inspect and approve all metal work prior to any filler or paint being applied.


Customer can halt work at any time a take possession of the car for reasons stipulated herein and claim a partial loss under this agreement.


The shop has (XX) weeks from the date of signing to complete the repair. That time can be extended at the customer’s discretion. Acts of God or force majeure do not excuse delay.


The cost of any litigation to enforce this agreement shall be borne by the shop.
 
Last edited:
I do have the trim and plan on using it. I think I failed to mention, I don't want them to paint the car, just replace those two big items. From what everyone is adding to what I knew, I've come to the conclusion they just aren't interested in the job for whatever reason. I've contacted a couple of shops recommended from members and there is a collision shop in town that has done a late 60's Firebird that is really nice. I'll check with them Monday. I appreciate everyone's help
 
Auto Transport Service
Back
Top