69 GTO

69 GTO Restoration Costs

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2 minutes ago, 69 GTO said:

Although there is always room to improve, I differ somewhat with your opinion based on two factors: first the job that was requested had no parts involved. I supplied every nut and bolt, bumper, weather stripping, grill, chrome and trim for the job. The only materials are paint, primer and sealer. Second is the level of quality which directly impacts the cost. The shop would not indicate they were doing concourse work and was reluctant to offer a ball-park or even state if the 25K budget was reasonable. None of the 5 shops I interviewed would provide this detail. Maybe 25K was unreasonable for a solid/decent paint job but that hasn't been conclusive from this forum. I still believe that some shops would have been able to do the body and reassemble for close to the 25K. This job will likely fall around 45-50K, with no mechanical work, no parts purchased, etc. Since I spent 12K alone on just the parts, I would assume the shop mark up would bring this total close to 75K. Mechanical work or frame off would have added another 15K easily. Again, it was meant to be a driver, as I stated this to the shop numerous times (and it's obvious from the lack of a full restoration).

 

Any ideas on whether 25K is reasonable for a paint job?   

 

As I pointed out in  my previous post, I would not be surprised at a $20K or more bill for a quality paint job.  It all depends on the local shop rate, the actual condition of the car (which I guarantee is worse than you think it is), and the overhead rates.  The problem is, you can't simply tell a shop to do a half-fast job.  You either get Maaco and crash-repair shop quality or you get high-end resto quality.  The only ways for a shop to make any money is to either get the car done as fast as humanly possible or to take the time for a high quality job and charge accordingly.  The middle ground you are looking for will be a money loser for most shops, thus there is no interest in those jobs. Frankly, I suspect that most car owners who would pay for such a middle-grade job would likely complain loudly at the results.  Until you've done paint and body yourself, you really have no appreciation for the amount of work it takes.

 

Again, $15K-20K is for paint-only, no parts.  Understand that there is a lot of labor (trim removal, panel removal and realignment, masking, etc) as well as consumables (solvents, sandpaper, masking supplies) and a factor for disassembly issues (broken trim clips, stripped out screws, etc). You may think this is just a scuff and shoot paint job, but it isn't. I don't know if this shop spent the time to guide coat and block sand the car, but for that price I would assume so.

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You have stated repeatedly that you only want a "driver quality" paint job. Please tell us what you would accept as "driver quality" in contrast to "concours quality".  Less shine to the paint? Less careful bodywork? Less careful masking? Dust in the paint? In your mind how exactly does a "driver quality" paint job differ from a "concours quality" paint job ? Seriously, what less than perfect details would you be ok with?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The shop put the car in the top 10 condition (out of over 250 restos), so I did not assume the condition, I was initially prepared for the worse. Your point is simply that a shop does the level of work (quality) they are comfortable with and the customer shouldn't expect them to do a half-fast job. I agree with this but the problem is there are various levels of quality and detail, this is known only by the shop. If they don't provide any details, ball-parks or rationalize the customer's budget, then the customer winds up in my situation (way over budget). Not all shops do the same level of work, if this is true, then how does a customer determine the correct level for their budget. This can't be corrected solely by the customer through due-diligence as the shop is the only partner privy to their process, quality etc. My point is that most shops can and should provide a reasonable ball-park with caveats (for the unforeseen). Every true craftsman has the skill and experience to do this and it's done in most industries. It need not be a binding estimate but it will provide the detail for a customer to make an informed decision. This situation can't be solved by the customer alone.

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Did you speak to any previous customers of the shop? Did you tell the shop you didn't want to spend more than $15k or whatever you thought the cost should be and see what their reaction was? If the shop had told you "No, we're sorry but we don't think we can do the job for the price you want" would you have looked for another shop? Did you check out the reputation of the shop and if their reputation was for fantastic quality why did you take your car to them hoping for lesser quality work at a lower price ? A "reasonable ballpark" that doesn't have to be "binding" is worthless isn't it? Who determines if the ballpark is "reasonable" ? You have just proven what I said many posts ago. Any ballpark becomes fixed in the customer's mind as a binding price.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, 69 GTO said:

Any ideas on whether 25K is reasonable for a paint job?   

Assuming the details you have given, yes it is.

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"As I pointed out in  my previous post, I would not be surprised at a $20K or more bill for a quality paint job."

 

 

and I think the OP would have been pleased as punch if your assessment were correct. He is paying double that and I fully understand his question of- is 25k reasonable for a nice paint job. In my book, that should have been plenty..............................

 

the car is a 70% er as a prescribed driver- with a 120% paint job on it.  The paint job is far too fine for the quality of the rest of the vehicle............my opinion. So I concur with the OP

but there should have been further due diligence on his part, before committing.

Nothing more to say.......................

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2 hours ago, Restorer32 said:

Did you speak to any previous customers of the shop? Did you tell the shop you didn't want to spend more than $15k or whatever you thought the cost should be and see what their reaction was? If the shop had told you "No, we're sorry but we don't think we can do the job for the price you want" would you have looked for another shop? Did you check out the reputation of the shop and if their reputation was for fantastic quality why did you take your car to them hoping for lesser quality work at a lower price ? A "reasonable ballpark" that doesn't have to be "binding" is worthless isn't it? Who determines if the ballpark is "reasonable" ? You have just proven what I said many posts ago. Any ballpark becomes fixed in the customer's mind as a binding price.

In any service, there is a budget and expectation on quality - sometimes high, sometimes low. If I were renovating a kitchen I could spend 20K or 100K and that decision is up to the customer. Of course there was discussions on these expectation but the shop only stated "we don't know what we don't know". The reason there are designations (Street Restoration, Full Concours, Local Concours) is so the customer can find the correct shop for the type of work they require (mostly driven by budget). Since not all work is done with the same level of detail, this should be an easy conversation to have but no shop would discuss it. The shop could have a great reputation for street restorations but that is not easily found in documentation, websites or references. The only way is to discuss budget upfront and have the experienced shop provide some insight, which if they are talented/skilled, they can do. Are you saying that you can't take a customer's budget and based on your experience, know if you can perform the work requested (given no unforeseen major issues)? If you can't or won't do this then the only option is the customer starts work on an unrealistic budget - which unfortunately favors the restorer because they will get paid for every hour regardless if they finish the project or the customer will come up with the difference, or the car will be lost on a mechanics lien. Either way, there is no downside to the restorer. One could argue that this is the reason for the lack of transparency but I won't engage in that discussion.

 

As for the point that "any ballpark becomes fixed in the customer's mind as a binding price", this is factually false. Every service has T&Cs and although there are unreasonable customers in every industry, all industries (auto, home, landscape, etc.) provide estimates with caveats. I have not encountered a mechanic or contractor who ever paid for a major unforeseen issue that they did not create and they occur. I had my brakes done recently and when bleeding the system, two lines began leaking. I did not hold the shop to the line repairs, as it wasn't an outcome of their work, the lines were worn through.  

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So you are suggesting there is a grand conspiracy among restoration shops to keep customers in the dark? We would have asked you what your expectations were and what you thought the job should cost. If your idea as to cost was not realistic for the quality work we do we would have politely turned you away. We often have to tell potential customers that we are probably not the shop they want. Did that last week in fact. Shops work t/m because they have learned that that is the only way to stay in business. I was an expert witness in a jury trial where another shop had given a car owner a "ballpark" price which they exceeded. Even though the Judge specifically instructed the jurors that they could not in any way consider the "ballpark" to be binding they found for the customer. There is no quality gradient with most mechanical work. Brakes either work or they don't. Lines either leak or they don't. Bodywork and paint are different. You have yet to answer my question. What exactly differentiates a driver quality paint job from a show quality paint job in your mind? Scratches, dull lustre, poor body work, lesser quality paint ? You are not obligated to keep your car in that shop nor is the shop obligated to finish your car.

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Restorer32, there is no need to debate this. If the shop had provided a response to if "the cost was realistic for the quality of work you do" then I would have had the information I needed. None of the five shops would provide any insight and unfortunately, those are the only shops within driving distance. I don't need to answer your question on quality, it's obvious in the posts, industry definitions, and anywhere in life where there is craftsmanship. I'll have almost 20k into block sanding alone and since you know the industry, there's your answer.  

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1 hour ago, 69 GTO said:

As for the point that "any ballpark becomes fixed in the customer's mind as a binding price", this is factually false. Every service has T&Cs and although there are unreasonable customers in every industry, all industries (auto, home, landscape, etc.) provide estimates with caveats.

 

Sadly, most customers will be unreasonable in my experience.  We've all experienced the customer who has a brake job done then blames that shop when the muffler falls off two weeks later.  This, coupled with today's insanely litigious society, is why no one want's to do less than perfect work. And yes, I also believe that any ballpark number will be considered by most customers to be a not-to-exceed number.

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So what's the correct way forward? I have a reasonable budget but no way of knowing if your particular shop will do work which equates to that budget.... Is it just a roll of the dice and I got the one that resulted in 100% over-budget? How do home remodelers survive? They are in a similar situation and always provide estimates but often have unforeseen structural or land issues.  

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I don't think 69 GTO is necessarily complaining about the cost vs. benefit ratio here. He's simply asking if the cost is reasonable. I actually think he's handling the prospect of a huge bill on his car rather well--he's accepted that it will cost $X and that he'll get a good result. He's a bit surprised by how big the numbers are getting (and I would be, too) and it seems that the shop let him believe that $25K would be the right range, but they're also working on a time/materials basis, so it's totally open-ended. I don't think he's getting ripped off, but it's expensive to do a good job, and he's getting a VERY good job. It was just more than he expected.

 

My guess is that he was just wondering if he was being treated as a sucker with a running tab and perhaps that the time invested in a quarter panel might have been excessive. I think $25K on a straight, complete car should buy you a spectacular show-quality paint job. But I know there are quality levels above "Holy cow!" too. I realize there are unseen circumstances, and I know that time costs money and nothing eats up time like sanding bodywork. But I also think that $45,000 for a paint job on a mid-sized production car is rather excessive, regardless of expectations going in. Most folks, even those on here, would not be able to tell the difference between a $25,000 paint job and a $45,000 paint job. At that level, you're way out on the fringes of diminishing returns. I don't know that I'd consider a $25,000 paint job to be "driver grade." I'd have pretty friggin' high expectations at that price.

 

Yes, maybe he should have been a little more specific before telling the shop to start the clock and get to work. And yes, the shop is probably doing the best job possible and they're not ripping him off. But the expectations were not discussed and that's both parties' fault in this case.

 

I think we're being a little tough on 69 GTO--he's taking it like a man, and he's resigned himself to the cost. I think he'll be delighted and the final tally will be irrelevant once the car is done and paid for, but I don't think it's wrong for him to ask if a $45,000 paint job is routine and if the result will be twice as good as the $25,000 job he was expecting to buy.

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I have seen topics like this one on other forums also and one thing I think about is how I do things. I could not go into any project of any type without having an agreed price up front its just my way or no way. does not mater whether I am the seller of services or the buyer. I have underbid services before and ate the cost of MY mistake. I learned from my mistakes and I am proud of the way I treated people over the years.

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How about a picture of the car when you bought it? When you dropped it off? One in bare metal? One in primer? One for insurance? If all of us had a picture to look at, we could see what you are dealing with. It is also a good idea to take pictures of work being done if a problem ever comes up down the road with the finished product. And it also helps in the value/sale, if you have pictures to show a new buyer that it was a very clean car before re-paint.  

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Thanks for the great summary Matt, It's spot on. The work continues, just wish I knew that it would run this high otherwise I would have planned better. Honestly, the 34 hours spent on the quarter panel alone caused the majority of my concern and then I contacted the shop who told me it would come to 40-50K in total. That was already obvious after the time spent on the quarter. I just wasn't expecting that after they told me the car was a top 10 post the blasting. Ugh. Either way, it's gonna get done and I'm on this forum because I could not have the conversation with the shop for fear it would sour the relationship. I do think the restorers can learn from this too, as no one wants to enter a relationship that could end in divorce.  

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4 minutes ago, Xander Wildeisen said:

How about a picture of the car when you bought it? When you dropped it off? One in bare metal? One in primer? One for insurance? If all of us had a picture to look at, we could see what you are dealing with. It is also a good idea to take pictures of work being done if a problem ever comes up down the road with the finished product. And it also helps in the value/sale, if you have pictures to show a new buyer that it was a very clean car before re-paint.  

So far I have over 1200 pics of the work, so yes it's well documented. I can't post pics because in case the shop reviews this board, I don't want any bad blood. I'm in this to finish and came to the forum to avoid any conflict with the shop. That would be the most costly situation to be in.

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On 8/24/2016 at 3:02 PM, 69 GTO said:

 I spoke to 4 shops, all would not estimate at all (T&M period), so it's a guessing game and I guessed good/bad. 

 

You nailed it at guessing game.

Estimating repairs on "new" cars is pretty easy as there are estimating programs available to assist without having to deal with unseen rust and rot.

No matter how well a  47 year old car has been cared for, even it it has never seen rain, snow or salt, damage does occur due to condensation.

It's impossible to know what underlying issues one might run across.

I think a good word to describe a shop that would attempt to estimate an old "project" car is this: CLOSED....... :(

 

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This is for Restorer 32:

 

You asked what is the difference between a concours paint job and a driver paint job.   Here's my take:

 

First of all, it's almost impossible to do a concours paint job without restoring most of the car.   To obtain concours results, one would have to remove every piece of rubber weather stripping and every piece of trim before starting to remove the old paint off.  In the case of the subject car, a 1969 Pontiac GTO, the front fenders and hood would have to be removed, as well as the doors and trunk lid.   How do you paint the firewall without removing the engine?   The trim around the windshield would have to be removed as well, and we know how hard that can be to do and keep straight.  What about the tack strip for the top?   See, you're basically disassembling the entire car.  What about the door jambs where they meet the interior?  For a concours job, one would have to remove the parts of the interior that butt up against the door jambs in order to sand and paint that area completely and not risk damaging the interior.  The paint on the firewall and underneath the trunk lid would be as good as the exterior of the car.  Then upon the painting process being complete, all the stainless would have to be buffed before reinstalling and all new rubber put on.  Most chrome would have to be redone as well.  Why have a new perfect paint job with only so-so chrome?   That's how I view a concours paint job.  (how many times have you seen a car with a gorgeous paint job & stainless trim that was dull or had major blemishes in it?  Looks awful, doesn't it?)      

 

For a driver quality paint job one might still remove most of the trim, but maybe not the few pieces that can be difficult to remove, such as the stainless trim around the windshield.  You'd still sand the car down to bare metal and properly fill in any dents or rust holes.  Assuming the paint on the firewall, and under the hood and trunk lid are at least "presentable," those areas would not be re painted.  You wouldn't repaint under the hood, not repaint the firewall, not repaint under the trunk lid.  The doors would not be removed.  The front fenders might be removed because, hey, show me a GM car from the 60's or 70's without major rust or repair work on the bottoms of the front fenders.  The hood and trunk lid would be removed as it's only 4-6 bolts each, so why not?    The door jambs may or may not be repainted.  If they're clean, leave them alone.  One would replace as little rubber as possible, only replacing what was severely deteriorated. One can carefully tape off the rubber with a decent result. (yes, we've all seen cars with a ridiculous amount of over spray on the rubber, but it can be taped off carefully if you try).  Only trim that is severely deteriorated would be fixed/replaced.   If it's 80-90% good, put it back on as is.   With a paint job like this. the exterior paint on the car would look almost as good as the concours job, but it's all the little details (firewall, door jambs, under the trunk lid, not replacing all the rubber, not having perfect trim) that make the car appear a step below.  I don't think the driver quality paint job I just detailed is necessarily half assed.  It' s not like your slapping bondo on with a trowel, or have severe overspray.    

 

I think my driver quality paint job example is what the original poster in this thread wanted.   It sounds like the shop he chose doesn't like to do jobs like that.   In my opinion, this was a failure to communicate by both parties before the job started.   If the shop doesn't want to do that type of paint job, then they should have politely passed on the job, and maybe refered the owner to another shop who does that type of work. And perhaps the owner of the car should have been more specific with the shop on "where to draw the line" on the details of the work.  So in this situation, I put the blame at 50-50.                     

      

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31 minutes ago, K8096 said:

You asked what is the difference between a concours paint job and a driver paint job.   Here's my take...      

 

An excellent explanation, K8096!

This should be saved in some manner, on this forum and elsewhere,

to explain to every first-time paint-and-restoration customer.

I was a newcomer to that level of work in the 1990's, as is everyone at some point.

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Well Restorer 32, I'd say K8096 answered your questions pretty damn well. The horror stories associated with people putting cars in  shops that then use the cars as cash cows are legendary. I am one of the currently hated 1 % ers, and I wouldn't give carte blanche to any shop no matter how vaunted their reputation. I fully understand that you are proud of your trade, and are defensive about it, but I find the OP's position to be very well stated, and his concerns legitimate.

Edited by 31 Caddy (see edit history)
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Mr GTO, would you have been satisfied with the quality of the work as described above for a driver quality job? I think not, given that you spent $12k on new parts. I must admit though that your total cost does seem a bit high to me but then we don't charge $85/hr. We recently had a heart to heart about painting a similar size and condition car and I expect that the final price for the paint and bodywork only will

end up being $12k-$15K plus materials. Show quality but as I said our hourly rate is considerably lower here in small town PA. At $85/hr I could see the paint job being $25k depending on the actual condition of the car. We recently paid $950 for a gallon of factory red paint. There are lots of variables.

 

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Restorer32, since this is my first restoration, I can't comment on the differences. I only know the budget and the process the shop performs. Full disassembly in and out was always part of the process and I knew that from the beginning. What I did not know was that the process of block sanding, repairing the 3 rust spots and priming would cost 20K. This is on a fully blasted, straight car with little rust and no dents. The 20K on straightening to perfection is where most of the difference resides. The block sanding process on one quarter alone (no rust/dents) cost $3,500 which caused me to question the level of quality (and cost of a full replacement of the quarter). I wasn't expecting 4.5 full days to block sand and straighten one quarter, which was as close to perfect (to my eyes) as I ever seen in a 47 year old car. They literally removed every imperfection, high, low, etc. that they could uncover. I have no issue with the quality, just wondering if it's overkill on a partially restored driver. This is why I set a budget at 25K, to keep the total cost under 50K when you factor the parts and cost of the vehicle. I didn't want a 65K+ driver.       

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Am I missing something?

 

In most states, doesn't the customer have a legal right to a written estimate, which must be revised if charges exceed it by a specified percent?

 

If that's true and the shop complied, how could it be a surprise that the bill mounted so high?

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