Some of you may remember I had a fire in 2017 that damaged my beloved `71 XR-7 convertible.
After a LONG search for a body shop to handle the repaint, I finally found a local shop to take it.
We sent him the car in 2018, stripped to the rolling shell and media blasted to bare metal. Fenders had some bad dents, so to make the job easier, I bought a pair of NOS fenders. I bought a repro trunk floor.
Aside from trunk floor rust, the body was SOLID, as a lifetime Southern California car should be.
Three years and $5k later, the shop owner says, “sorry, I’m too busy - come get your car”
So, here it sits, back in my garage.
Nothing significant has been done at all. For some unknown reason, he cut my repro trunk floor into six pieces, and it’s ruined. I need to buy a new one.
Am I annoyed? Yes. Lot of time and money wasted, but what’s worse is being bullshitted by a shop that agreed to do the work, strung me along and vacuumed $5k from my wallet. No wonder mechanics and auto shops often rank at the bottom of consumer trust ratings, just above personal injury lawyers.
Screw it. I’m going to do it myself.
The car needs minimal metal work (a few small rust patches, new trunk floor) and I’ll paint the car in a friend’s booth. Maybe it’ll be a good learning experience…
As a career technician(I dont consider myself a mechanic as I hold myself to a higher standard) I find this kind of stuff infuriating. There are alot of great technicians out there that pride themselves in their work. Problem is there are an equal amount that are glad to steal your money and be happy about it. There is no reason to string any customer along this way let alone for this long. It seems body shops are the worst at this and I feel like they really dont know how or really want to work on your project over some high dollar build or a shop full of insurance claims.
Body shops in general don’t want to do restoration work. They’ll take it as filler but the quick insurance jobs take priority. That’s why I’ve stuck with a friend who works out of his home garage. He turned out restorations of 3 Cougars, 3 Mustangs, and an MGB for me and none of them were ever there one day longer than necessary. The Cougars and Mustangs all went on to win their share of trophies.
The one project that spent time in a body shop was CatVert and that was just for paint. It was there for about 18 months and the shop owner couldn’t figure out why I was aggravated the last time I visited it instead of being blown away by his work and grateful for it.
It’s too bad I couldn’t have hooked you up with Dave (the friend who did my cars here in MA). Your car would have been done long ago and done well.
I know a guy who had this issue come up on a restoration of his previous car.
His latest project car, he interviewed several body shops for estimates on price and time. The shop owner agreed to a guaranteed completion date. My friend was very generous, and let the body shop owner set the parameters for completion time. They even padded to ‘time to complete’ extra and signed a contract. Terms were for the body shop to pay $100 refund for every month the project went passed the completion date.
My friend did wind up with a fairly decent refund at the end of the job.
I been working on a pair of fenders for a co workers 67 fairlane and i told him a price this past week and he got hesitant but i showed him some of the work i been doing to them. I told the guy that body shops charge 100.00 a hour and he be out at least 1000 maybe more. I told him let me get these fenders worked for you and youll be happy. I underbid myself because these fenders had years and years of bad bodywork , someone leaded dents , used a old fashioned dent puller which they mudded over the holes. Both fenders had to be stripped because they were done in lacquer, But the amount of work i put into these fenders it be at least the body shop prices. I told him 500.00 and he was happy with that. I have been working on my car as well for 10 years. But i took that car to bare metal, and fixed everything. I am not a pro by any means, but i take pride into what i do and do not like taking any of my vehicles to a body shop that butchers, take short corners and rips you off. I wish you the best of luck and hope you get your money back!
No offense taken and I totally get the frustration, these types of stories help justify why I try so hard to do the very best job possible. Honestly and integrity are priceless, it’s a shame others don’t have them same values.
Welded in 5-6 very small patches (quarter panels behind wheels, and at the bottom of door jambs)
Pin welded and pulled 7-8 dents on the doors and quarter.
Rebuilt the door hinges with new pins and bronze bushings.
Now fitting the trunk panel. The Spectra Premium '71 Mustang trunk floor is MUCH different. It needed to be cut and lengthened by 4.5 inches. Kleco pins holding together at the moment. I will spot weld the new strip and seam seal the edges.
Also, the sides along the frame rails are very different. A lot of hammer, dolly, and English Wheel work is required to make it fit the Cougar contours. Brutal job.
Still a lot of massaging and welding to do, but making steady headway.
A plug for Don Rush, who supplied me with a gorgeous passenger door shell to replace my original which had too much rust for my tastes. As always, working with Don has been a pleasure.
Feels good to be working on this project. I love this car and can’t wait to have it back on the road and in fresh paint.
More steady progress on the trunk floor of “Project Phoenix”
The 4 1/2" lengthening strip is now step-flanged and spot welded in place.
Continuing to hammer, dolly and wheel the sides so that the transitions from the Mustang panel to the Cougar body are smooth and factory-like. Lastly, trim the right and left sides to meet the shape along the trunk floor extensions.
Once the fit is right, I’ll seal the entire panel with epoxy primer, seam seal and re-oxide the bottom. Then plug weld the thing in place.
It’s hard work, but fun. Sheet metal cuts are no fun though.
Nice work on the panels in the trunk. I did the same only different. Used two 71 Mustang floors to reduce the number of seams and the amount of welding
One thing that the panels will lack when your done unless your going to add them is the drain plug holes at the rear (red arrows) and the dolly holes (green arrow) one each side
Also the panel will not have the seam (bend) towards the rear end of the panel as well as other details. Some that can be seen when you compare some of your pictures and the one below. But as usual not allot of choices short of NOS or having talents much greater than I have as far as sheetmetal work
Was an unusual project for me on the west as we typically don’t have rust issues and the car does just find another rather than mess with it. Yes spoiled
I may add the plugs at the rear of the panel. Dolly holes also.
Recognize this isn’t perfect, but need to be realistic. This isn’t a 429CJ car, and is a 4 speed conversion. Best case a $25k car. With a concours correct trunk floor probably also a $25k car.
Although this was a San Francisco car from birth to 2014, the factory trunk floor was toast from front to back. I just need a solution that’s adequate and not a total embarrassment. With the trunk mat, trunk paint, and spare installed, nobody will see it, it will be solid, and most important - back out on the road!
While I was managing a Parts Plus Store. I had a customer’s shop that did corvette restorations. A friend of mine went to work for him and had to quit because of the shady stuff the guy was doing. The one thing that really blew me away was taking parts off one customers car to finish another customers car.
I also had a shop let their mechanic jump in my Supercharged 5.0 mustang floor it and bang all the gears while they were all laughing. Not much I could do as they were one of my biggest customers.
I also saw plenty of the owners and mechanics use customers cars to run for parts and go to lunch. A lot to worry about when choosing a shop. A good idea is to write down the millage.
I also had a car get wrecked while in a body shop for paint. Shop of coarse fixed the car of the damage done.
In another instance Two transmission shop employees (Owner & Mechanic) got themselves killed driving the wrong way late at night in a head on with a customers car.
A buddy of mine worked his way up the chain until he owned his own AMMCO Trans shop. Horribly dysfunctional / corrupt chain and he had to walk away from it as a Christian guy with a deep sense of wrong and right. For years now he has operated under the radar out of a small shop in his backyard. No sign, no business card no ambitions to grow and gets all the business he wants and then some. The best guys in the business are found word of mouth, do not have expensive retail store fronts and will only accept you by referral and you must know the secret knock to get in the back alley entrance. I have been blessed to hook up with a dozen of these guys locally and it always goes well. If you are local to me and I think you are a good fit I can get you in to the best of the best. These gray haired, seasoned salty guys are retiring at a rapid rate, one of my favorites (link below) just retired last month, I hope the guy that bought him out is 50% as good, we will see…