Starting Restoration

At this point I was back from college and working full time.  Classic Mustangs were becoming a pretty hot item.  Jim Smart was collecting and publishing data on them.  Parts vendors and restoration shops that specialized in those cars were popping up all around the country.  Two of them local to me were Pony and Corral and Mustang Magic.  Neither of them are still in business, but I spent quite a bit of money at both of them on parts and repairs over the next few years.

So I chose to jump on the “restoration” bandwagon.  The body of this car was in pretty sad and rusted shape at this point.  The drive train and suspension were still in serviceable shape, so I concentrated on the body to start.  The first step was to have the rear quarter panels replaced as they were pretty badly rusted.  I shopped around and chose to have a company that specialized in Mustangs called Pony Car Specialists do the installation.  The “owner” of the company was a woman named Cindy.  Unfortunately a lot of the Mustang specialists were very much “fly by night” companies that had no business being in that line of work at all.  Unfortunately the company I chose was one of those.  Their prices for parts were just a little bit better than everybody else.  But their bodywork was about as bad as it gets.

I spoke with Cindy on the phone and drove my car over to her “shop”, which turned out to be her house.  She and her mechanic looked the car over and agreed to repair both rear quarter panels, one of the front fenders, and repair the rusted floors.  I left the car and was told it would be a few weeks.  I waited patiently and eventually got the call that the car was done.  I was given a different address to pick up the car, which was the first thing I thought was strange.  That address turned out to be the home address of the body mechanic. When I looked at my car I could see that the quarter panels and fender had been replaced.  The alignment on the quarter panels was beyond atrocious as they weren’t even close.  Where they had been tacked on was covered with about 1/2″ of body putty that hadn’t been sanded down.  The fender had emblem holes drilled in the wrong place, and for the wrong emblems.  The floor hadn’t even been touched.  I complained and refused to pay until the work was completed satisfactorily.  The mechanic agreed to make the repairs, but it would take additional time.  I agreed to give him the time he required.  I also complained to Cindy, but she wasn’t interested in getting involved, claiming that she only handled the parts and had nothing to do with the body work.  Shows what kind if business person she was.  Not even willing to stand behind her own company’s work.  That speaks volumes about her and her bogus company.

A few days later I get a call telling me my car was now ready.  I drove over to the mechanic’s house to inspect the work.  The front fender was untouched since the last time.  The putty on the rear quarter panels had been sanded down a bit, but weren’t looking much better and the alignment still wasn’t even close.  The floors had been sanded a little but I could still see through some pinholes where they were rusted out.  This time the mechanic wasn’t even there, so I spoke with his father.  Again I said the work wasn’t acceptable and I would not pay until it was completed.  The father tried to argue with me some but in the end they kept the car for a few more days to make another attempt at finishing the work.

A few days later I got another phone call that the car was ready again.  I drove over to take a look and see if my concerns had been addressed.  Once I arrived I looked the car over.  No change on the quarter panels or fender.  The floor had a metal plate welded over top of one of the rusted areas.  The rest of the floor was unchanged and covered with surface rust.  I was told that the car must have been in an accident in the past which caused the quarter panels to be out of alignment, so he was unable to align them properly.  I pointed out that the panels were aligned much better before he replaced them and that his job which I had hired him to do was to repair the damage.  I also noticed that the car had about 100 miles more on the odometer than when I dropped it off.  When I questioned him about this it seems he had been using the car for transportation while he was working on it.  We haggled for a while and finally agreed on a reduced price for the work since I was going to have to get it repaired again somewhere else.  I drove the car home and tried to move on.

Once I got home I found a few more problems with the work that had been done.  The next day the car wouldn’t start which surprised me since I had purchased a new battery just a month prior.  Upon opening the hood I found my battery with a big fiberglass patch on it and evidence of battery acid having been sprayed around the engine compartment.  I called the mechanic once again to ask what had happened to my new battery.  Seems he had managed to cause the battery to fall out of the battery tray and hit the fan while he was joy riding in my car.  So now i needed a new battery to replace my new battery.  We negotiated for him to refund some money to pay for that.

Other problems I found over time was that the bottom of the fender he had installed was welded on rather than being bolted on.  I discovered this the first time I tried to remove the fender.  When he replaced the rear quarters he had welded the rear valance on as well rather than bolting it on.  He had snapped off a couple of the bolts where the bumper brackets attached to the frame. which I had to drill out and replace.  And then to add insult to injury the 1/2″ thick body putty covering the seam where he had welded on the quarter panels started bubbling up and cracking as the quarter panels both came loose.

None of this had gone the way I had hoped, and I had to have almost all the work I had paid for done over.  Chalk that one up to experience I guess.  I learned that anybody can call themselves a “specialist”, but that doesn’t make it true.  Next step was to start collecting some additional parts and prepare for a trip to the next body shop.  At least as soon as I could find one I could trust.