Need to Vent. Paint Job Drama


I hope this is okay to post here. I don't want to post this in more main stream forums as I don't want the shop owner to see. Plus, I believe this forum to house some mature and good decision making members compared to others. I will try to make a long story short.

2/17 - I dropped off my 1985 Mustang race car to a friend of a friend who said he could do a full paint job on it in the amount of $4000. I realize that is not a lot of money to do a full paint job but it is a respectable amount and I'm not looking for a Sema job. The guy in question has painted quite a few of the mutual friends cars that looked great.

6/17 - After weeks and months of seeing NO progress made on the car besides disassembly I pulled it from his garage/shop as a basket case in pieces.

The Mutual friend felt terrible that his guy screwed up with me and offered to talk to his other buddy that owns a much more legitimate shop. A guy who produces much more work and does it for a living unlike the other guy. I called and talked to him directly. He assured me he could knock the car out in one month. He assured me it wasn't too much of a basket case and he's taken on much worse. He assured me it will be a priority job and not go on the back burner. He was perfectly satisfied with the $4000. He was 100% aware of the situation with the last guy and said it wasn't the first time work came to him because of the same guy screwing people around and not finishing their cars.

This all took place in June 2017. I agreed to go with this guy because everything seemed to point to a path of completion. His shop was very close to the other guys and the logistics of moving a disassembled car around worked out.

6/24/2017 - He has the car on his shop floor.

Throughout the last few months we talked through text about some things like the color and some parts on the car. At some point I told him I would give him another $500 because there's some slight body work that's involved (nothing major) that I felt he should be compensated for accordingly. Along the way it started to turn into a completion date of "After Labor Day." So now we've moved from the initial 1 month to 2+ months. I responded by saying, " Let's shoot for Sept 31st." That was my way of saying don't worry about rushing as long as you're moving on it we're good.

9/18/17 - After following up with him every few weeks (since he never once gave me any updates) I messaged him to get some clarity. It turned out the car hadn't been touched since the last time I messaged him 3 weeks before but now it's at the deadline. The car is still fully disassembled with no body work done to the actual body yet. I asked him politely to provide a plan for some completion. I let him know that we are past labor day and approaching the 31st and neither look like a likely outcome.

He responds by telling me the car is a basket case. He's had set back's in the shop and was set back because he had to strip the doors (don't know how he's not stripping the whole car??). He then proceeded to tell me he only took the car on as a favor because he was begged by our mutual friend.

It was left there and he has not got back to me since then. I now have no idea what's going on with the car or if he is even still working on it. I know I wasn't out of line by keeping track of the progress of the car. I was never rude or pushy. This went from no problem, give him a month to 3 months, cars still a mess and i'm the asshole just getting a favor.

I'm not sure where to even go from here. If you're still reading thanks for listening. The worst part is, I have a super clean GN waiting for a full paint job but I can't find anyone that can back up their talk when it comes to painting cars.
Where are you located, maybe we can guide you to someone who will do it

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I am in the Philadelphia area. The worst part is, When I had the car on the trailer and pulled it from the first shop, I pulled into a parking lot and sat on the phone with my wife for 20 minutes. I was telling myself to just take the car home and find someone else on my own. Or weigh some different options. I ended up feeling like this guy was as good as anyone and left it there. The car is about 1 hour 15 minutes away from me now. If it was close by I would have went to the shop and talked this out with the guy.

I'm worried if I try to pull it he's going to charge me for work he's done putting the doors, bumpers and fenders into primer.
I am sorry to fan the flames but I have never met a satisfied body man. It's just in their nature and I have seen it from coast to coast. But I am also as sure there is someone somewhere who would do the job well and timely. If the repairs so far are straight and good then you should pay him for what he has done. I would take someone who can mediate so there is no animosity and everyone parts company amicably if possible.
If the repairs so far are straight and good then you should pay him for what he has done. .

It's not that I don't want to pay him. I didn't mean for it to come out like that. He deserves to get paid for any work he did. However, When it arrives at the next shop down the road, they're not going to give a shit about the parts being in primer it's still going to be a $4k+ paint job. That means anything I pay this guy goes into the toilet at this point.
He's putting me into a bad position to lose money. That's what the issue is with paying him for half a job.
I understood. You're not ignoring your responsibilities. I did not mean to insinuate anything negative about your intentions.
And this is why I don't do compete paint jobs aside from my own . Body shops have their hands tied by insurance companies getting their work done first. There is no money to be made doing restoration work on a budget. I feel bad you are in this situation though.
Can your mutual friend possibly mediate for you? Perhaps get the guy to start moving on the car because he's "making us both look bad"?

IF you can get him to complete the work, 4K is a hell of a deal and might well be worth the wait, even though it's been too long already.

Jus' sayin'.
I have a guy that will look at your car, will tell you if 4,000 is enough. Then he will tell you when to,deliver it and will paint it on time and for the the amount you both agreed. I live in the poconos so this isnt really to far for you to come. He painted my gn as i was in the same boat only my other guy came down with cancer so i had to find another. I told him what i was giving the other dude, he looked at my car for 10 minutes and said i can do that. No rust, just scratches and dings here and there. Lets be clear, i did not get a show car paint job!!! But i did not pay for a show car paint job. 3700 plus tip. My car looks good and i get many compliments on it and that is all i wanted. Let me know if this is something you might want to pursue, ill give you his imfo. Buy the way this isnt a part time thing, he is a full time paint and body shop and loves hot rods. Also i took the gn apart, bumpers trim spoiler, he painted the parts and i took them home, painted car and i assembled in my garage. Also got two follow buff and waxes a couple weeks apart, no charge just tip.
Right now, I'm in the process of getting my landlord/best friend's '63 Split Window Corvette not only painted, but changing colors from red on black to black on red..... I'm trading rent for the job.

He's done all the disassembly and he's done as much body work as he is capable of doing, which between us, is a lot.

I have the doors, interior parts, flip up head lamp buckets. all the brackets, hinges, trim and interior nick knack parts that need paint. The completely stripped and ready (in his mind) roller is still in the garage at home. Mind you, we're talking about a complete color change on a better than 50 year old, fiberglass body with a LOT of imperfections.

He want's it done by October 31st so he can assemble and have the car at Good Guy's in Phoenix in November. The parts and car became "ready" in late June.

Only the hood and some interior parts are done......... and I don't feel bad about it.

Let me be clear, I'm not the guy who does the work, I run the shop and make my guys money.

We'll get it done, but if he want's it to be right, and at the price he's paying, (way more than 4K, I assure you, AND he's getting a smoking deal) he's not going to be at Good Guy's with this particular car in November, but he WILL be at the March event. I do owe him that, and that is a commitment I will honor.

I only post this so that the OP has some perspective from a guy that will get the job done. My problem is that, since he is so close to me, I failed to set his expectation correctly and will disappoint him with timing, but will more than exceed his expectations with the finished product.

I've done it with others here, I'll do it again. Sometimes, actually more often than not, this is how complete paint/reclamation jobs go.
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kirban 2 cents worth

My kid does top notch work but it is not cheap. As others have stated most body shops crank out insurance jobs based on budgets and dealing with insurance companies picking up the tab.

The job wold be more costly for my son to do it but it would look really good....he does aston martins and has done a few GNs..

You definately have exercised a lot of patience....

Just gotta be certain you get all your parts back no matter where you take it to next.....
Thanks for the reply's. I am fully aware of what these paint jobs are worth. I had a GN with a $7500 Paint job on it. You have to remember. This is not a GN. It is a shit box, old Fox body. It's a little coupe so there isn't nearly as much to painting the car as a G-body that comes apart in a 1000x pieces. Also, the car was completely disassembled when he got it. It was ready for work on day 1. The price he he being paid is $4500.

Before I ever started this I talked to many different shops. Most legit shops were $5-6k to walk in the door. Some were $8k+. I did find a few people that would do it for the $4000-4500 number as well. I had plenty of options and I'm not cheap or broke so I could have done those. It's a matter of knowing what I have. It's a race car that goes into a trailer and comes out a few times a year to go to the track.

The last thing is, This guy doesn't do insurance jobs. He does, however, do fleet limo work. So there were 25 limo's all over the shop the day I went to bring him some parts. When I saw that I knew my car was destined for the burner. I should have pulled it right then. Live and learn
This is what the car looked like when I dropped it off to the first guy in Feb.

This is what I picked up from the first guy and delivered to the second guy.

Well, I knew the next move here was to make a phone call about this in the off hours. Text messaging almost always gets miscommunicated. I gave him a call and basically asked for the current condition of the car and let him know my fears were that the car was at a stand still and on a back burner. I explained to him that I am not in a rush and the Sept deadline is not an issue at all. I just want to know it's being worked on.

He spent about 10 minutes telling me all he's been doing with the car. It sounds as if he's definitely putting time in on it. He described the challenges with the car. Everything he touches is broken or missing pieces. There is a lot of missing hardware. He said it's no longer in the same corner and out in front of his tool box and it looks nothing like the last time I saw it. He basically has to get hardware to mount the fenders on so he can do all the body work to the car and after that body work is done he can take it back apart and start painting.

At the end of the day, I believe i'm getting a full days worth of work each week. However, It's been three months so that's over two full weeks of work and at that rate it will be done in another 3 months lol. I guess I have to take that for what it's worth. It's further than the last guy got me. I also know this car is going to really look good and for a very reasonable price.

I'm really considering selling my GN and just buying one with really nice paint. It would save a lot of money and headache.
Sorry for your bad experience, but I have been there also, but getting my Limited painted was just the opposite of your job.

This was a few years ago when I left my Limited at the paint shop on a Thursday. I received a phone call on the next Tuesday to come look at my car?

It was amazing what found!

I was there a few more days to finish some details.

Blue was the original color, so no door jambs needed paint and only 1/2 of the roof and no glass had to be removed.
Sorry for your bad experience, but I have been there also, but getting my Limited painted was just the opposite of your job.

This was a few years ago when I left my Limited at the paint shop on a Thursday. I received a phone call on the next Tuesday to come look at my car?

It was amazing what found!

I got a little confused with your post, Nick. Are you saying you dropped off a Limited and they discovered somehow it was a Designer? Not trying to be smart I just want to know what happened to you.
I am going through a similar experience with my buddies car. I stripped it down to the bare shell with the dashboard still in. This car has seen 2 body shops now, both with the same bullshit attitude of how well they are, and how fast they will crank it out etc etc. The car is basically being used as a shelf to put tools, shop supplies etc on. They have no desire on touching it. When you show up unannounced they look agitated and give all kinds of excuses as to why they haven't touched it. We are working on 7 months with dick done. Very frustrating to say the least. It's a good thing I'm older and more mature. Had I have crossed paths with these guys when I was younger.... I think I would have folded them into a road map.