Jump to content

Fast, cheap, correct ... my experience with that saying

Recommended Posts

As I'm sure you all know, there's a saying that if you want a job done, it can be fast, cheap, and correct....but the catch is you have to choose two of those, you can't have all three.  


I'd just shared my experience with this saying with a good friend, thought I'd put it here just for fun.


I know you’ve heard the old saw about quality/price/time.  You can pick two. 


If you want it quick and cheap, it wont be high quality.  A friend of mine doing a somewhat rat rod of an early 50’s Chevy panel truck, he wanted covers on the front and only seats, but didn’t want to spend any money.  He got covers made by me and he repaid me with a small favor, but I’d told him they’d be slap dash covers, he was fine with that.  They looked perfect in a rat rod.


If you want it correct and cheap, plan on taking a long time.  It also helps if you are friendly with the one doing the work.  I actually did this, left my Pierce at a  friend’s body shop and they used it as fill in work.  He did mostly insurance work, and he said sometimes on Friday afternoons they'd come up short of work due to planning.  I got a beautiful, complete, paint job on my 1931 Pierce, it took 10 months.  This was about 18 years ago cost me $2600, and that included all paint and materials.  Anyone who's seen my Pierce knows it's actually a very nice job.


If you want it fast and correct, it’ll be very expensive. I did this one too, had a guy call me with an early 50's Allard that needed upholstery.  The catch was that TWO WEEKS later it had to be at a reunion of Allards in Monterey, this was about 25 years ago. I told him I had a full time job, didn’t know how I could make that happen.  He stated that  money was no object.  I said I’ll be right over!  I didn't gouge him, just charged overtime for all the hours.  He was very happy with the job and actually thought the price was reasonable, but it wasn't cheap.  Sharp eyes will see that yes, I used foam (my hated product for old car upholstery), they had all the materials on hand and that's what they wanted....


Just some thoughts on restoration....

Allard seats.JPG


  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

"In our shop we strive for perfection, in the attempt to achieve excellence."


If you always do your absolute best work, you never have to hide from a customer. A few weeks ago I fixed another one of the "impossible to fix passed around cars". It went to several shops. I got it fixed for 25 cents on the dollar than what others were wanting to do it for. Three weeks later it had a running problem again, the customer called me pissed off........I told him whatever it was, it was a new issue. He didn't believe it, I told him to drive right over......he did. While he was whining and bitching, I found a misfire on #2. I grabbed the wiring harness to the injector.......it immediately fired on all six. A wire in the injector harness went bad............on a 30 year old machine. I fixed it in front of him, and told him........I knew it wasn't related to my work. He shook his head and agreed, and I asked him about his attitude............he was embarrassed. I don't ship anything unless it's 100 percent..........if it's not 100 percent, I don't charge for fixing it.  



There are several rules if I accept something for repair.......number one is the customer must agree to do it RIGHT.....IE what ever it takes, once I start I go till it's finished. Can't always estimate cost.........but by the time they get to me, they know it's not going to be cheap or easy........but it will be fixed.


It's not my skill set that gets it done..........I often have some help, or lots of help fixing things.......I just know who to call for help, and I NEVER EVER GIVE UP-EVER.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
  • Like 13
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ed, I agree on doing it correctly.  I had a fellow with a Model T tell me, after I found mouse nests in his springs, to just put the new upholstery over it, no one would see it.  I told him to come get car, and explained no way that was going to happen.


The slap dash rat rod work mentioned above was for a very good friend, and frankly, it wasn’t that bad, but he didn’t WANT excellence, so that is not representative of my philosophy....

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, padgett said:

Always liked "The Difficult we do Immediately. The Impossible takes a little longer."


Yes, I used to be a Plant Engineer with a maintenance department attached, and I'd always tell the production guys that if they had a breakdown, we'd fix it immediately no matter how long it takes....

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Surprisingly I got all 3 when I had my front seats recovered. I had bought pre-made upholstery from legendary and was a bit gunshy to do the job on my front buckets. I ended up using an old timer that built my cars for me when I was a kid. His day job was in the upholstery shop at Chrysler which he had retired from many years earlier. I had restored the frames and had most of the parts, new foam springs, etc. I took the stuff to him on a wed. he told me not to be in a hurry, which I wasnt. He called me while I was on vacation the following monday that they were finished. He did a perfect job (though I suspect for a pro it was pretty much a no brainer). And I had to force him to take $100 bill for the job as he didnt want anything.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Years ago we learned that when potential clients say they only want a "driver quality" restoration what they really mean is they want Concours quality at a driver quality price. So now we only do one quality of work and that is the best we can do. If you want cheaper work I'm sure you can find a shop to suit your needs. 

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

Understand there is no substitute for quality work but surely there is a difference how much is done. For example body off vs body on. Repaint vs refinish.

Personally am not good at cosmetics so to stick what am: mechanical/electrical/hydraulic/electronic. Also am happy with a #3+ but everything must work. Wouldn't want a Pebble car but do want what I consider a safe/reliable car and usually that means some things are Not Stock.


Now this does not preclude knowing A Lot about what a stock car is, particularly ones I've owned (mostly strange and interesting) and having even more documentation particularly about GM after 1963, just means I doubt that any car I've had stayed stock for long. However I do try to help people about what was real back in the day if they want to know. And I learn a lot along the way thanks to some great teachers.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...