So, you already own or just bought a car that you want to restore. You have already done some research on how to undertake such a project and want to go all the way and make your car as good as new. But how do you find the right restoration shop to do the work?
There are a number of factors that make for a high-quality restoration shop; some of them are obvious, and some are less so. Let’s go through what you should know when considering a shop to make your car showroom fresh.
1. CHECK OUT THE SHOP
To start, you should do an in-person visit to any shop being considered. You need to see what the facility looks like and see how the staff handles projects in the process. When visiting a shop, take a thorough look around. Is the shop clean? How well is it organized? Does it have a dedicated staff for specific jobs? Is there a painter, a fabricator, a mechanic? Does the shop outsource any work, such as interior or machine shop needs? If so, where is that work done?
Regarding parts, where do they source their parts? All parts companies are not created equal, and the cheapest parts often are not the best parts. Do they have the ability to recondition parts at the shop? Where does the shop send parts for plating, and can you see before and after examples?
2. REVIEW THEIR PAST WORK
If you are going to work with a classic car restoration shop, you should review some of their past work to make sure that it is up to your standards. Look for a broad range of types of vehicles and the time periods they come from. An excellent automotive restorer should have a comprehensive portfolio.
3. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH?
Different restoration shops may have different approaches even though the objective is to restore your car. A body repair shop, for example, addresses body works differently than a fabrication shop.
Ask yourself what you care about. Do you want metal or body putty? Do you want to restore your vehicle to its original condition, or do you want modern conveniences like power steering or power brakes?
Know your priorities and objectives.
4. ARE THE SHOPS GOALS IN LINE WITH YOURS?
Fear-inducing stories and low prices may initially boost sales, but a shop’s approach with you should focus on how it will restore your vehicle, not only on price.
If all you hear from the shop is price and restoration project horror stories, and you don’t hear detailed talk about how they will restore your vehicle, how can you be sure to get a properly finished product that you desire?
Check the shop’s website to learn its goals. See how it plans to accomplish them and recommendations from current and past clients. What you want to see is a restoration shop involved in its’ industry and community, one that promotes best practices and safe communities.
If the shop you are researching doesn’t post such information on its website, don’t hesitate to call and ask for it. Any good shop would be happy to discuss their industry and community involvement with you on the phone.
5. WHO ARE THE SHOP OWNERS?
Another good way to find out if a classic car restoration shop is right for you – especially in communities with many options – is to learn about the people in charge. Evaluate their skill sets, restoration and repair experience, and business experience to determine if they are capable of taking care of you.
Shop owners and manager names may be found on their website, on LinkedIn business pages, and other sources. You can also call the company and ask.
Make sure you know the skills and character of the people behind the company.
6. WHAT ARE OTHERS SAYING?
The classic car repair industry is multi-faceted and ever-changing. Getting the opinions of others can greatly improve your understanding of your options and help you pinpoint the most effective restoration company for you.
Ask your neighbors, friends, and trusted associates to share their personal experiences and opinions about what companies are exceptionally fair and reliable.
Take a look at review websites like Yelp. Don’t place too much weight on any one review. Instead, read them all, so you get a good overall feel about what others think of the shop.
Contact your local Better Business Bureau for information. Search a shop’s name online to learn of lawsuits or negative customer service, or performance issues.
Many states have licensing requirements for classic car repair shops. Make sure the company you are considering has a current license in good standing with the community and state in which you live.
7. Financial Matters
Estimating the cost of the restoration work for a specific vehicle is one of the most challenging tasks a restorer has to, inevitably, deal with. It is very hard to determine the level of rust and repair and the resulting costs during a quick, first-sight inspection, as one needs to disassemble the vehicle in its entirety and inspect each and every individual component of the car to give a close-enough cost estimate. Although you should do your best to get a generally written estimate by the restorer for all the project’s potential costs (including labor, work materials, car parts, etc.), you should always keep in mind that the estimated cost is subject to change. This is because, as the restorer looks deeper into the inner workings and condition of the car, issues that were initially unnoticed now unfold and manifest themselves, causing higher costs than were originally quoted. This is the reason why the majority of restorers have an explicit, well-defined clause in the contract acknowledging that an additional charge may incur in case of unforeseen additional repairs.
If you are finally ready to restore that old car, a great place to start is with the professionals at WRECKTIFY COLLISION & RESTORATION. Contact their shop in Madison, WI, for more information.