Frequently Asked Questions 

Why can a Body Shop paint my car for less?

 I am often asked why a Body Shop can paint their car for less than a Restoration Shop and there are of course those who raise the issue of paint shop chains offering paint jobs for $250.

The answers to these questions are of course quite simple. In fact, a body shop cannot paint a car for less than a restoration shop if they are going to do the same job and as a matter of fact, when they attempt to do the same job, costs often exceed those from a restoration shop where experience is a great cost cutter.

Of course when all the paint and body work has been removed any corrosion or old repairs have to be repaired and the panels all made straight before the painting process is started.

In all the automotive trades, there is not one that is as complex and demanding as that of the restorer, and yet the restorer and the restoration shop have the leanest profit margins of any of those trades. 

How much will it cost to restore my vehicle?

That depends on the answers to many more questions. How many of you parts will need to be replaced due to quality issues? How many rust holes are actually present? How long will it take to research for parts, or even fit them to your car?

For these reasons and others like them it is impossible to estimate the cost of a full restoration. With so many unforeseen obstacles surfacing daily and weekly during the restoration process, an estimate is just flat out deceiving. Often customers make the mistake of going with a shop that will give them an estimate, a big mistake most of the time. These shops often end up realizing they have underbid the job and begin looking for cost cutting maneuvers to save their shop money. Is that the kind of craftsmanship you want, because it’s definitely not the kind your car deserves? Truth is, the cost of restoring your vehicle will be determined by the overall condition of the vehicle and availability of quality parts as well as the owner. Bottom line is we don’t give hard estimates for restoration work. The best estimate we can give you is that it will most likely cost about twice as much as you could imagine.

Why does it cost so much to restore a vehicle?

So how come a restorer with years of experience can’t put anything but an educated guess on how much a car will cost to restore?

It is fact the huge complexity of the job involved that makes it almost impossible to accurately forecast how much the job will cost to within a few hundred or even thousands of dollars. To give you a very simple example, take a cars water pump. Just one small mechanical part of a complex machine, itself a machine in its own right, tasked with the job of pumping coolant through the rest of the cars engine to keep it operating at tolerable temperatures. So we have a part critical to the car as a whole.

Now take it off the engine. For the sake of argument say it is off the engine of a 1960 Corvette, so its over forty years old and a correct replacement is not available. So if the engine has low mileage perhaps only a couple of hours needs to be spent removing it, disassembling it, sandblasting the parts painting and then reassembling the pump, which now looks and is in perfect working order. So if the shop rate is sixty dollars an hour, the water pump has cost one hundred and twenty dollars plus tax.

Now what if when the pump is removed from the engine, all the bolts are rust seized into place and two snap. Now we might have two hours removing the pump from the engine in order to minimize damage to the pump. Now, with it off and disassembled we discover that the impeller is completely worn out, the shaft on which the front seal is located is so badly corroded that sealing it will be impossible and to finish matters, the pump housing itself has a great big crack in it and a couple of badly attempted repairs to that crack have warped the impeller housing.

So the shaft has to be milled or a replacement made and a seal found, the impeller has to be rebuilt if a replacement cannot be found or an impeller which is close in dimension perhaps customized to fit. Then the housing has to be properly welded using an exotic gas procedure which insures it won’t re-crack in the same place, and then the housing has to be checked internally to make sure the impeller  will fit and pump properly. After all of this then the whole assembly has to be painted, the broken studs removed from the block and the block re-tapped for new hardware. So how does that compare to the first example?

It has probably taken ten hours which is a little more than a day, plus the cost of welding the housing, the costs of that welding perhaps another couple of hundred dollars. So you can end up with eight hundred dollars plus tax in the water pump. Now imagine this kind of thing happening repeatedly throughout the restoration process and you can imagine why it is impossible to determine how much a job will cost before it’s done.

This is why a restoration will never be as simple as a straight forward body job on a five year old car, or an engine rebuild on a six year old engine. Time and previous repairs ravage old cars.

The restorer and the restoration shop are tasked with the job of making a phoenix rise from the ashes, shiny and new and in many cases, even better than when the vehicle being restored was new. This is what restoration is all about, whether it’s an old Buick or a mid sixties Corvette. 

How long will it take to restore my car?

As long as it takes to do it right. Putting a time table on a project of this nature only sacrifices quality and craftsmanship. Some cars only require months, others may require years, it all depends on condition, parts availability and the owners vision. No matter how long it takes, we will not compromise our quality to complete a job sooner. 

Is my vehicle worth restoring?                  

Unfortunately this is a question only the owner of the vehicle can answer. Though we can tell you the approximate value of your vehicle once restored or maybe even have it appraised, the cost of restoration almost always exceeds the value. Truth is that value is determined by the owner. Why do you want this car restored? Does it have sentimental value and how much can you afford to spend on it? Ask yourself these questions, only then will you know whether your car is worth restoring.

How do I decide what kind of restoration I want or need?

You should answer this question by thinking about what you would like to do with the car. If you’re going to show it, just want a daily driver or a concourse restoration, they all require different levels of restoration detail.

If it’s going to be a driver then you just need to look at the basics, how you want it to look and think about how much the car means to you. Your car should bring you joy when you drive it and nothing less. You should feel like the  king of the road, it should make you happy and proud to park it in your garage.

How can I expect my car to look and run when it’s returned to me?

 We strive for better than factory quality, and usually achieve these standards. This is possible due to today’s machine shops and good reproduction parts that are available in today’s market. Products such as rust preventative paints and powder coating are a vast improvement over previous finishes. The chrome plating processes improved ten fold over the years and continue to get better all the time. We have a lot of new parts and products available to us today that they didn’t have way back when.

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