So I live in an HOA and have no shop in which to work on my project, so I found a reputable hotrod shop that specializes in ‘47-‘53 Chevy trucks. There were 4-5 such trucks in various stages of being being built when I visited the shop, and I observed good work. One of the trucks was being hurriedly finished so it could make the Mecham auction, their second truck there. I met one of the owners and found him low-key, straight forward, and seemed honest. I told him what I wanted done to my ‘51 patina half ton and got his opinion on several items I was on the fence about. After our hour long discussion I asked him to give me an estimate of what it would cost me. I waited a couple of weeks and finally received his email bid which included the following:
Mustang II front end w/ power steering
4-link rear suspension
Used 5.3 LS engine & new harness
Complete new wiring harness
Used 4L70-E transmission
Used rear axle
New Vintage Air a/c
Chrome tilt steering wheel w/ col. shifter
New Torque Thrust wheels
New remote gas tank
I was pretty shocked and have not responded. I’ve tried to justify his price by telling myself that I’ve got no place to do it myself, that I’m not capable of doing it myself, that I’m not getting any younger and if I want to enjoy it for a few years that I should do it now, and that the prices of Chevy AD streetrod trucks have gone through the roof and that I could sell it and easily get my money back. At the end of the day I still think the price is outrageous. I never asked his shop rate, but I’m guessing it’s $75 per hour. I told him from the get go that I wasn’t wanting to spend a fortune to build a show truck, and that I only wanted the basics done, and I could work on the finishing touches myself, like installing a new wooden bed and dressing out the interior.
I’d like to hear comments from others, pro or con.
Take a small percentage of that estimate and rent some shop space. Do a little at a time while keeping the truck in driving condition for as long as possible. For that price, I'd expect the job to include a "crate" engine and rebuilt components for the rest of the drive train. Otherwise, invest in a BIG tub of Vaseline!
The guy is giving you a bargain. With today's prices you can't do it yourself for $30,000. I did all my own work on my truck and still spent $18,000 just in parts - and my build doesn't sound half as ambitious as yours (ie no LS, AC, 4-link, new glass, new floors, or fancy wheels). Jump on it before he changes his mind.
His quote is within the accepted range for what is listed. Retail price on parts alone is in the $13000 to $16000 price range. Couple hundred shop hours and your right on the estimated $30000 mark. Understand he is not going to shop around for a bargain LS and computer. He is going to pay up for a known good unit. Same with the rear end and transmission. If he sends you home with junk his reputation is shot in the hotrod community. If you can’t/won’t do the work yourself you have to open your wallet and dig deep. Your situation with HOA’s is the same problem facing thousands of home mechanics wanting to maintain or build their dreams in their driveways or home shops. My little City has specific ordinances on the books prohibiting working on your vehicle in the street in front of your house or parking on your lawn. Some HOA’s are even stricter.
Good luck with which ever way you choose.
Not a bargain, but not a rip off either. I'd say he's in the ballpark with that figure. JMO.
I spent just over $13K back in 2000 on my '37. That was total cost including paint, I kept track of everything. I did all the work over four years. With labor rates what they are today, $30K is cheap. Have you priced out an drivetrain?
I do side jobs at home, mostly build engines, carburetors, distributors, stuff that fits in the corner, my labor rate is $100 hours for the first hour, anymore time depends on how hard I have to work. I just finished rebuilding a '70 GTO Judge rear axle. Customer supplied all the parts, it still cost him $150 for me to clean, inspect, and install all the parts. He has over $700 in it and it's not painted yet! I have over 8 hours of work in it, I do it for the fun of it. Labor costs money!
Sounds about right to have it done by a reputable shop.
I got similar quotes a few years ago for a project I was working on. Decided to try and get it done on the cheap - sourced my own engine, trans, chassis, wiring. I hauled parts and the vehicle around to different shops here and there for different stages of the build depending on where I could get a deal. I didn't end up saving all that much money and had about two years of frustration getting it done.
Some things I would consider...
What will it be worth when it's done? You might not get back all you invested, but think about the depreciation an taxes on a new truck.
You are investing in a local business providing local jobs. Good for you - better than buying a Korean car.
You will have something unique.
He's not going to sign a contract to do that for the price quoted.
Every project I ever heard of went thousands over budget, and ran months behind. No, it's not a crime, and it's not fraud. If you're not happy with it you need a good lawer.
Are you going to be happy with it in "patina" (currently going out of fashion as indistinguishable from "just dragged out of the corn field")? If not, add $10K and a year for paint.
This is a really hard one to comment on. I feel your pain. I don't have an answer but just a few things to use for decisions.
1. The guys who have commented already have good ideas.
2. The basic concept of Stovebolt, and it's members, is DIY. Many have never gone to a shop. I have not. A few here have, with mixed experiences.
3. HOA's can be a real pain.
4. Don't use whether you will sell it for a profit or loss as a deciding factor. That factor is unknowable. The only possible profit is from a DIY build.
5. If you can't afford it, don't do it. If the feeling is there after a few days or a week, do it.
6. There is more than a 50/50 chance the estimate will go UP. That's what ALL estimates do. I know the guy is honest but you will become hostage to price and time.
7. The truck will be in the shop WAY longer than estimated.
8. The hot rod version of your truck will have a greater chance of becoming upsidedown than the restored or semi restored or driver version.
9. Renting a place is good only if you have all the equipment and tools there for some of the major mods you listed......and know how to do them, be there for shipments.
10. This type of mod rod can take some of us 3-5 years and more.
11. You told him "only want the basics done". You don't have any basics.
12. The price he gave is "reasonable".......but it's one of the reasons I don't use a shop.
13. I have PM'ed you a suggestion not suitable for Stovebolt community.
You list 4 project vehicles in your signature. Where are these stored? Can that place be used for DIY?
I thought Texas was the wide open spaces but I see San Antonio is pretty dense. Gotta go a ways out of town to get into the ranches and farms with possible buildings to use. I think right now I would reach out to local clubs in the area and meet and greet. Somebody will have a place or advice more atuned to that area. Maybe even a retired guy who would work on it and you could work with him at his place. Anyway just some food for thought. Sleep on it a few nights.
The paint and upholstery could push it to $45K ................Just trying to calm you down
When you call his price outrageous, I tend to agree. Even though it's a price which includes parts, shipping of parts, lots of labor, overhead and profit. But your comment and the fact you are having a shop install used stuff tells me you are on a budget and are not going to enjoy the shop gig. Like I would be, you are already stressed and at your limit of $$. So when the surprises he discovers, problems, increase in cost, excuses and time extension come, it will be too late. If I read all that into "outrageous", then that road is not for you at this time. Keep control of your truck. Farm it out a little, find that old retired guy, find a good place to work on it or buy one partially finished per my PM....and possibly reduce the modifications.
Martin is exactly right, your parts are over $13000. Right now there is an EXTREME shortage of all kinds of parts. Wait times are EXTREME. Inflation is looming. Many of those parts will be out of stock and have several months back order wait times. Shipping prices are increasing especially the heavy item freight rates.
So now I do have an answer. Buy a truck already done to the point you want. That is the definite answer. Cheaper, faster, known quality and workmanship, seeing what you are getting rust wise............ at a known and negotiable price. No tax. Bam!
Finding, traveling, inspecting and negotiating is the new task. Sell your 51 to recoup. Sounds like it's pretty rusted if you need a new floor. That alone is a supper labor cost.
I have actually thought it all thru for you in real time. I never cease to be amazed at myself. Awesome.
The price quoted is a large multiple of the current value of the truck.
The end product will be 10 X harder to sell at all than it is now or restore, the number of people who want it is much smaller.
I agree, the only hope of getting your money back on a sale is DIY.
The biggest loss: run out of money, or change your mind mid-stream.
Is that truck the one you really want?
Some of the most successful con artists seemed like really nice guys at the time.
The IRS is a giant headache to install and adjust many times, and has minimal effect on ride quality for the price.
I've only been in this field for a year , but based on what I've learned I do not think that budget is unrealistic.
You stated that the finished truck could "easily" be sold for a price that would recover your expenses. That is not realistic. Forget about getting your money back - just decide if you want that build.
You are clearly apprehensive about the situation. I think that you should give serious consideration to alternative courses of action. Maybe you want to drive your patina special as is. If is is still original , it would be easy to sell ... take the proceeds and couple it with 2/3 of that build budget and buy a resto-mod that is street ready. Let someone else take a bath.
You stated that you were "shocked" at the proposed price , and that you felt it to be "outrageous". You clearly don't want to work with that guy - you don't trust him. (Through no fault of his , I might add...)
Formulate and follow Plan B.
Chuck does like and trust the shop. It's just sticker shock and asking for some plane B"s. I think we are repeating plan B's.
Look for another truck which is already done the way that you want it. You should be able to find one for less than $30,000 with a most of the way decent paint job.
Keep your old truck as a putting around, daily driver.
Who in their right mind only has one of these trucks?!
Who in their right mind only has one of these trucks?!
Who in their right mind HAS one of these trucks!!??? (Insert smiley face emoji here if I used emojis , which I don't.)
All good valid points. As a lifelong self employed business owner the only red flag that has not been specifically identified is one of the first that struck me. If the shop specializes in this era trucks they should know them inside and out. There are not many differences or surprises in what needs to be done. It should all be work they have done before. I would think that after an hour discussion you would have had the ballpark estimate before leaving the shop with a more detailed written estimate via email within a couple days after specific parts prices are checked. That estimate should have an expiration date and should include a proposed timeframe for the work to be done. A couple weeks to get the estimate that should be a no brainer? I am thinking the time management skills of this shop/owner are questionable. That speaks to the delays and way longer time period that people have talked about. Maybe you can research on yelp about this shop, plug the shop name into websearch and see if any reviews pop up. Asking the shop for references will only get you names of their most satisfied customers. My .02, find one done that you like as you will likely be frustrated at the delays and lame excuses that follow.
A lot of the consulting work I do is performinfg pre-purchase inspections of astronomically-priced resto-mod vehicles for overseas buyers. Even when the asking price is two or three times the quote you've been given, I'm amazed at the generally poor quality of the work that's been done by a "professional" hot rod shop. Some of them look good, but the modifications that have been done are downright dangerous for anything other than a car show trailer queen. I looked at an early 1950's Chevy 3100 with the full custom treatment- - -crate engine, OD automatic transmission, independent front suspension, 4-link rear suspension, full custom interior and electronic gauge cluster, and a custom steering column. The asking price was $90K to a potential buyer in France. I found a bad engine oil leak caused by the fuel pump hitting the front crossmember and cracking the pump housing, and a steering system that tried to lock up every 1/2 turn of the steering wheel due to universal joints getting into a bind. I documented the problems in my report, and I don't know if the sale happened or not. I got paid very well to drive 200 miles to do the inspection and file a report, so what happened after that is none of my business.
I'd suggest you find a resto-mod truck that somebody else has taken the financial hit on, and offer him a little of his money back. There's plenty of them out there!
I wouldn't do it, Chuck. Based on what I've seen, you're standing on the edge of a deep money pit. Like Carl said, I would look for one somebody else has done and buy it if you think that's what you really want. I believe with whatever you have tied up in your truck already plus $30,000 (which will turn into 35,000, then 40,000 then who knows what) plus all the other stuff you'll have to pay for, you'll wind up exactly like a fellow I know. He started out thinking what he wanted would cost around $18 to $20,000, but before it was over, he had shot $60,000+ right down the drain. He ended up with a mismatched bunch of used and poorly rebuilt junk scavenged from who knows where that shakes and rattles like an old buckboard at any speed over 40. I doubt he could get $15,000 for it and he's convinced he'll have to part it out to sell it. If somebody like Jerry saw it, they'd tell the buyer to run fast and far. Looks good when it is parked, though. Good luck!
Well, I’ve read each and every one of the replies. Some of you said the $30K estimate was in the ball park. MiraclePieCo and JoeH said it was cheap and to jump on it before the shop changed it’s mind. A couple of you should be counselors because you figured me out real good and saw that I am apprehensive about this build. Twin Jimmy’s said some things about the shop that I had thought but had suppressed, like not having good time management skills which would result in build delays. But it was Bartamos, Jerry, Panic, Waveski, 52Carl and Jon G who influenced me the most. They all told me, in so many words, to not do the build and to come up with a “Plan B”. Jerry, I’ve decided not to buy that gallon of Vaseline, and to start looking for a truck that’s already built and on the road. It just makes sense, and will assure me that I won’t spend more than I should on something that’s really only intended to be a toy played with on the weekends. Bartamos laid it out real logically and everything he said makes sense, so I’ve decided to take the majority’s advice. I’m going with Plan B.
Thanks everyone so much for the comments and for being honest with me. I’m going to sleep better tonight!
jump on it before the shop changed it’s mind
They don't have to. The estimate is not binding.
Sounds to as though the OP has made his decision, and a sensible one.
Sounds as though the OP has made his decision, and a sensible one.
Haha, I thought the choices were "build or not build." I didn't know that buying a whole different truck was an option! It seems like I never learn that you can ALWAYS buy a car cheaper than you can build one.
The great financial guru Dave Ramsey has a favorite saying- - - -"Forget the cheese- - -just let me out of this trap!" After a while, some projects get that way. Find somebody who is tired of trying to fill up a bottomless money pit, and offer him a way out. The MOPAR 440 1968 Charger I inspected down in south Alabama that went to Australia for $90K was in that situation- - - -the seller only took a $10K loss on it!
Although I didn't comment until now, I let the more experienced members do that since they know this stuff better than I do. I did, however, read this thread a few times. I am glad you decided to take the path you did, you will be much happier in the long run. Me, I am about to go down the rabbit hole of rebuilding my truck. But I will be doing it with period correct, factory items, with a couple minor upgrades, like better brakes, better seat, sound deadening, you know, the basics. Having a shop do the work sounds great, and the shop may do great work, but it is truly a gamble. Nobody loves your vehicle as much as you do, and a shop may or may not put in the effort you would. And if they do it could really empty your account. Hopefully you post up your "new" truck when you get it.
I can fully understand the decision to find another truck, there are a number of things stacked against you HOA and all. If you do find another truck just look it over carefully as many folks have said there are some hack jobs out there. A good place to start your search may be a local car show, many times there are projects for sale on display.
I guess I'm lucky that my 4ft 9 in HOA named Linda allows me to do what a love. Good Hunting.
I would want a much more detailed estimate before I handed him any money. It says gauges. are you talking $500 restored gauges or $1800 Dakota Digital. What brand of column? I don't see brakes, exhaust or radiator. Things like cab mounts and window and door rubber add up quick Are you doing all that or is this going to be able to drive home? All those parts have a very wide range of prices. Is he buying budget China parts or high end American made? For example I have $9000 in spindles, flanges and brakes for my 53 3100. Maybe he can break down what he allotted for each part and you could upgrade from there if you wanted. Without an itemized quote you are at his mercy when it comes to price increases. I hope it works out for you. There are a lot of good guys out there. Thank you for your time.
"One of the trucks was being hurriedly finished so it could make the Mecham auction"
Did anybody else hear a huge red flag flapping in the breeze in that first post, or am I just being paranoid? Back when I was working for a living keeping these old rigs running as daily drivers and commercial vehicles instead of weekend toys, "Quick" and "Good" usually didn't fit in the same sentence.
A sign in no particular shop says, We can do it Quick, Good and Cheap, but you can only pick two!
What's that other one?
$50 minimum charge
$100 if you watch us
$150 if you help
$200 if you worked on it first.
A sign in no particular shop says, We can do it Quick, Good and Cheap, but you can only pick two!
Quick and good won't be cheap
Good and cheap won't be quick and
Cheap and quick won't be good.
Or something like that.
From my own experience, fixing a rusty old truck will nickel and dime you to death. Fixing rusty panels has doomed my project to corner ir the shed purgatory. Yes. I do have buyer's remorse. If I had to do it all over again, I would buy a running and driving truck and enjoy it, regardless of the condition.
In your situation, a chassis and new cab might be the way to go. After you get over the sticker shock, it may save some money and time in the long run.
"...fixing a rusty old truck will nickel and dime you to death..."
Yeah , I started out with "Let's just make this bucket roadworthy so I can enjoy it." - now I am in the "How did I get in this deep?" zone.
Reminds me of a single panel cartoon I saw in a magazine years ago -
A man is standing at the counter in an auto parts store. He looks tired , greasy , frazzled. In his hand is a radiator cap ; he is showing it to the parts guy.
The frazzled guy says "I need everything except this for a 1965 Ford Fairlane."
Sir, You should walk away from the $30K estimate from the professional shop to hot rod your '51 1/2 ton. Why? A shop is in business to make money and you already think it's outrageous to charge so much. Think about this hobby and how people are consistently drawn to it & everyone wants an iconic '47-'53 GMC/Chevrolet truck. Heck it even made it as a postage stamp! You need lots of money to play this game! Keep your '51 1/2 on the road & work more jobs to create a budget specifically to fund this passion we all have. Thanks Chuck. V/r, Nick
I agree with most of the responses. After working on mine for the last 5 years doing a little at a time and being no where close to done I have $10K in parts not counting the countless hours of labor. I am not even doing any of the upgrades he quoted. Mine is 90% original. No suspension or drivetrain upgrades. No new gauges, gas tank, air conditioning or anything else. Just think about the hourly rate for labor minus parts cost and you will spend a fortune. Good luck finding one with all the work he has quoted for much less. Most out there are priced higher. Maybe you could work a deal with him to purchase one of the trucks he is currently working on and take yours as a trade to reduce the cost.