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2002 Restoration - A Cautionary Tale

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I decided to post this as a cautionary tale of how a restoration can go badly awry even when you use an experienced professional.

VIN 1659418 was purchased new in Singapore on May 4, 1973 by my father-in-law. Original color was Colorado. Cars are right hand drive in Singapore so it’s probably a UK spec car. It was kept stock except that an air-conditioner was installed and it was painted white in the 1980’s. My wife took over the car after college and we were given the car some 20+ years ago. We moved to Seattle from Singapore in 2000 but left the car behind in Singapore.

I finally brought stateside 2005 and felt that it was time for a ground up restoration. As you know, rust is a bugbear of the 2002 and there were rust bubbles here and there. The steering was also super floppy since the steering box was totally worn.

After doing some research I found a professional mechanic in the area whose specialty was 2002s. Wow! I thought this was great. I had found someone who really knew how to bring the car back to its former glory. This guy certainly knew his stuff about 2002s. He expressed eagerness to take on the job and estimated that it would have 6 months to complete. My instructions were to take the car down to bare metal to remove all the rust and to re-paint it in the original Colorado, and also deal with any mechanical issues he found, especially the steering box.

The car was delivered to him in the fall of 2005. 6 months come and go. 12 months come and go. All this time, when I press, I am given one excuse after another. At the same time I am asked for more money on top of the down payment painting, for parts, for work done etc. At one point, I demanded the car back but was told that because the car was in so many pieces that there was no way I could take the car back. I was between a rock and a hard place.

After the car was finally painted I find that that the car was kept out in the Northwest open for two winters with only a tarp over it. It rains a lot in the Northwest. Not good. Finally in spring 2008 after 2 ½ years and after a gazillion emails and phone calls demanding for the return of my car, I get it back. I ask for an itemized invoice so that I know what has been done to the car. I am promised I would get it.

I am so happy to get back possession of the car but the happiness is short-lived. On the first sunny day, I take the car out and start inspecting it closely. The immediate thing that struck me was why the paint work was dull. When I run my hand across the paint surface it felt like very fine sandpaper. I then started noticing shoddy paintwork. The sample photos speak for themselves. The pros at bodyshops who have looked at the car say that the roughness is overspray paint settling on my car caused when the painter was probably painting another car. The rust that was supposed to have been removed is still there. It’s under the car, in the footwells, in the trunk lid and so on. There is no alternative but to strip the car down again and start again from scratch!

After all this time and money spent and I have to start all over again! The steering is just as sloppy. The engine was re-built and I will say that it does feel good but it’s a small consolation.

Is there a happy ending? No. The mechanic never gave me an invoice so I have no idea what has been done to the car. My emails and phone calls are not being returned. I feel totally scammed and burnt by this experience but I love the car too much to leave it in this state.

Link to photos is here and they can be viewed in high resolution in full view mode.

http://bghows.spaces.live.com/photos/cns!C72ABCEFD7470B50!272/[/url]

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This 02 has too much history with you. Hang in there! I must applaud the way you are handling the whole situation...I'd be in jail by now.

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Guest Anonymous

Damn that sucks! Does this person have a list of work he has performed in the past and this is a fluke based on your research?

Not sure how much was spent on this job, but if I was in your boots I would be looking for legal ways to get back some of the money. Or at least get it out of the "mechanic's" hands. I can't see there being any plausible excuse for such shoddy work.

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This person is well known in the '02 community in Puget Sound since he only works on 2002s and I had little reason to doubt his abilities. He has been recommended on this forum too. I'm in the hole for $12,600. Without an invoice, I can't apportion the work done but a reasonable guess is that the bodywork was about half that amount.

Legal proceedings are the next step unfortunately.

Bryan

'73 Colorado

VIN1659418

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Low expectations, only upside on results...just my .02 and nobody will probably agree with me.

My '02 is the red one, second from left. My Bavaria is getting painted as we speak.

Photobucket

Photobucket

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I've seen better paint jobs from Maaco. Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience.

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I find that that the car was kept out in the Northwest open for two winters with only a tarp over it.

Beats a car cover. I am the proud oner of a nice car that sat under one of

those for a few years. The thing's a fiasco.

Mildew, anyone?

t

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how can someone use a brush on a car and call that a paint job!

Sue, post bad reviews on every forum, call him daily, use the BBB to put pressure on him. That is awfull. You say you also got a new engine? For $ that much money the car should be factory new.

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Nope - didn't get a new engine. He re-built the engine. The thought of having to restore the car a second time is just infuriating.

Bryan

'73 Colorado

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From my own experience, having been both a customer AND professional restorer, I've learned that a proper soup to nuts restoration can (and WILL) easily exceed $25K.

With the exception of a very reasonably priced (fanatical and almost creepy to the extent he'll go to get a car "right") full body (metal and paint only) restoration by Matt McGinn at Sports Car Restorations in CT, (I'm sworn to secrecy on the cost) and a full tilt 2.3 liter motor by Eric Kerman in NY (very reasonable - I paid for his vast vintage racing motor knowledge, not his torquewrench twisting) - I have bought and installed EACH and EVERY screw, trim pc, mechanism, and bearing myself on my 2002. You really want to know how much I've dumped into ole Emily? Try $41K over a 10 year period (!) I can only imagine if I paid someone ELSE to re-assemble and perform the mechanical restoration work I did myself. It would easily have been $50K.

Now...with that said, I am completing the restoration on a 73 tii now for another owner. I do the work on evenings and weekends only, charging a very minimal hourly rate...it's taken me 1.5 years to finish up, after the body work was done (...and that was 12 months in metal and paint alone at McGinn's CT shrine of 2002 goodness - and WELL worth the wait!) ...so now the owner has been without the car for a total of over 3 years. I don't have the overhead of a "real" shop. I perform the work at the owner's garage...and he'll STILL be touching the $30K mark when the dust settles. He gets monthly updates, monthly itemized bills, is encouraged to be a participating and active part of the restoration, and I don't mind waiting a few extra weeks for his checks to arrive from Florida.

What's he get for his money and patience? - a nearly perfect car built by a guy under very little stress, that isn't burned out by the process of reviving an old car..slowly...methodically...passionately. Sure I got bills to pay - but I stopped doing quick money jobs on the side to focus on THIS work...because it keeps me sane. Most shops don't have that luxury. (and this is not in your mechanic's defense...it's just the way things are.)

Spend another $15K on having the paint and rust done properly - and you'll be about on-track for the current cost of a proper restoration.

...and yes...I have been ruthlessly ripped off for thousands of dollars by mechanics without conscience in the past - but it's been about 21 years, and I'm almost over it now.

Hang in there - get it right - and keep that special car....the history alone is absolutely priceless. I wish you the very best of luck with it!

Paul Wegweiser

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post-2748-13667591504993_thumb.jpg

post-2748-13667591505984_thumb.jpg

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Paul - funnily enough $15K is the estimate I was given by a body shop that works on high end and vintage cars to get the bodywork and paint right. My current inclination is to send the car to Don Dethlefsen at The Werk Shop.

Bryan

'73 Colorado

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"For $ that much money the car should be factory new".

$12K will just about cover the cost of disassembly, sandblasting the pedal box, wheels, linkages, brackets, installing new brake calipers, wheel cylinders, hoses, lines, cleaning and sandblasting/refinishing the subframes, shocks, springs, bushings, and exhaust, maybe replacing with new, most interior and exterior trim pieces.....and THEN on TOP of that: there's building a motor, rust repair, body prep, materials, paint, reassembly....a factory new car...for $12K? Unless you're paying children in a developing country to do it for 50 cents a day, not likely.

The sheer (DOCUMENTED) time I've consumed with cleaning, sandblasting and refinishing parts would easily exceed 150 hours per car. My definition of "factory new" might be different than yours, however.

My time sheets tell the story.

Paul Wegweiser

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hmmm... e mail me off line if you wish re: recommended 2002 body/paint shops in the 48 states. I spent 11 years dealing with many of them, as a vintage parts geek. There's hype, marketing, dedication, schmoozy press articles, and good ole fashioned skill and passion to sift through.

and in my best Forrest Gump voice: "and that's all I have ta' say about thay-at".

Paul Wegweiser

zenwrench paul at yahoo dot com

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Paul - what is between zenwrench and paul? Or is it one word or is it separated by a dot or underscore?

Thanks for the help. Bryan

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