It is now time to restore your classic car. You want to go all the way and bring your dream car back to life. And inevitably, you hesitate because the project is complex and expensive. You are looking for trusted partners. How to choose the right restoration workshop?
There are a number of factors that are important in this regard. Some of them are obvious and some less.
Paying a visit to the restoration workshop is required
To begin with, it is essential to know what this workshop looks like. You must visit it in person. You will then be able to see how the staff are handling ongoing projects. You will also be able to judge the forces involved. Are there qualified personnel for each activity (painting, mechanics, electricity, saddlery …)? Does the store outsource work – and to which provider?
You will be able to observe the restorations in progress. Check the quality of the work. If a car’s metal is exposed, how is it treated? Look at the tools used. Is there a paint booth on site? Is it in good condition? Is there a space dedicated to rebuilding engines and gearboxes? Is it clean and well organized?
Managing classic car project restoration
The other question concerns the organization of restoration projects. Does each car in the store have a dedicated set of shelves for storing removed parts? Are these parts listed?
Once there, try to talk to the technicians in the workshop. Ask questions about how everyone approaches their work. How long has everyone been doing this kind of work and why do they like to do it? Where did they learn their job?
Supplying spare parts
When it comes to spare parts, you need to make sure that the suppliers are the best and that the workshop has the capacity to overhaul certain parts. Does the workshop have the possibility to recondition the parts on site? What are the names of the suppliers and service providers for specific restorations (chrome plating for example)?
Quotes and invoicing
Then, and this is very important, how does the workshop manage the estimation and invoicing of the work?
The best restoration shops treat this very differently from many other companies. This is because a restorer really has no idea what exactly needs to be done or how many hours it will take to restore your car until it is taken apart and stripped. The workshop must be able to give you an estimate based on the type of car, and a precise margin for possible additional costs.
In addition, you should not try to negotiate the rates. A restorer knows the costs, and can only reduce his estimate by reducing the quality of his work. A restorer is also not going to take a loss on your project. What matters is having a clear understanding of how he bills.
Be wary if the workshop requires a large initial deposit. In particular, this can mean that the car is not restorable, at least not at a reasonable cost. It is also necessary to challenge particularly low quotes. Remember that a disassembled car is difficult to move. A low initial quote can lead to high final invoices.
Top restorers invoice monthly, based on the work done and parts purchased. They will provide a detailed monthly invoice. They also work to help manage customer cash outflows, ordering parts only when needed. Some parts will be ordered quickly because they take longer to deliver.
The other estimate that you should know before committing is the duration of the project. If it’s fast, it can betray a botched job. If it is very long this may discourage you from carrying out the project. There is a balance to be found. For a light restoration, 5-6 months seems a minimum. For a complete restoration (involving dismantling chassis and bodywork), it takes at least 12 months. A priori, small shops have the most difficulty combining speed and quality work. The complexity of the skills required explains this difficulty. A larger shop is more likely to get the best results.
Finally, the method of monitoring the work is another criterion for evaluating a workshop. This can be done in several ways. The best workshops regularly make phone calls or emails to their clients, sending photos that show the progress of the project. Some also encourage their clients to visit them regularly. You can then understand where the work is going and get an idea of the difficulties encountered.
Restoring a car is a long-term project. The choice of the restorer is sometimes difficult, especially in certain regions where workshops are rare. You shouldn’t hesitate to take your time before deciding. And above all, only get involved with complete confidence. In case of doubt about the talent or integrity of the professional, it is better to keep looking for the right restorer to work with.