Wednesday’s Worries


Building a car from the ground up requires a lot of skill, money and patience. I have started numerous projects in my career but finished very few. I always start with the best intentions , hang in there for a couple of years and normally get the car in the mock up stage. I am good at execution to the mock up stage but very poor in the final finish of paint and upholstery. I found that buying a restored car and making it hot rod is the fastest and most economical way to build a car. I can not deal with body shops and upholsters who hold your car for months and still do not meet your expectations. There are some really good shops that perform at the 100% level but you really need to watch the progress and cash outlay at most of the shops. You can run up a tremendous bill in a months time. If the work is done to your liking and the quality is there then it is a good deal. On the other hand, if you have to pull the car and take it to another shop for a redo…hang on to your wallet.

I have been visiting hot rod shops for 40 years and I have been in the best and the worst of them. You normally get what you pay for. A good deal means you probably won’t be satisfied. A fair deal, where both the builder and the customer agree on a fair price for the job is the always the best way to go IMHO. Dropping off you car on a time and material basis is another approach most shops use. This protects both parties. Lets take an example of $85 per hour times 40 hours or $3400 per week. The business now can calculate their cash flow and the customer can make sure he has the funds to continue with the work. The shop is normally ahead of the customer which can cause problems when the customer is slow pay. Fortunately, the builder has more than one job going which keeps him afloat. The car that sits taking up a space with no payment is costing the shop money. Yes, it happens too often so the good shops move them aside or outside until payment resumes. So goes the custom car building business.

Labor rates are required to run a business and you need to account for every hour of the week to do proper billing. In my business we measured efficiency rates to see if we were getting paid for each hour the mechanic worked. Anything under 85% was not acceptable and more training was required to improve time spent on the job. The broken bolt, damaged threads, rework all reduce efficiency as you cannot charge the customer for your mistakes. If you document your work you normally can get paid for problems encountered during the build.

I admire big shops like Brizio’s who keep track of 30 cars at once and produce top quality products that meet your expectations.

The rule of thumb is “Perfect cost more than ordinary”.

Lets look at some cars.

Stay Tooned!



I am still wanting a 40 convert. Change the wheels and this one will be just fine.


Here is a nice 40 interior and car. The small back seat hauled my kids for several years. They loved it.


Here is the problem when installing the model A crossmember in a Deuce. Big hump robs precious room. That is why I have a delivery for travel and naps.


Steve visited SC Las Vegas and sent in some photos. Lenny has a great SO-CAL Speed Shop going for him.


Lenny has two roadsters (at least). This is his signature SC red and white beauty.


SC is putting together a baby blue roadster with a traditional looking engine.


Old Dad, Gray’s roadster is owned by a local LV resident. Still the same old car. Gray would have liked it that way.


This is how John’s Auburn dash looks in his nice roadster. Note there is no reveal around the panel.

Today’s ride…dreaming.


My sedan will be medium cabriolet red some day. This is a back East car that ended up out here. I have not seen the car in awhile. New owner added interior and immediately flipped the car to a new owner. So goes the car business.

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