Paint Shop Prison

f953_1My 1967 Mustang Coupe has been through two paint and body shops over the past six months and the results have been disappointing and at times had me feeling like my car was in prison or could be held hostage.

Read the Top Ten Signs Your Project May End up in Paint Shop Prison

I went to both body shops with high expectation and enthusiasm; both shops new that I would be publishing the progress of their work and promoting their business so I was pretty confident that they would meet their obligation to return a great finished product and receive the advertising, notoriety and recognition they would earn.

L & H Kustoms (Paint Shop Prison #1)

L & H (Luke Mau) started out good and aggressive with the project being picked up and media blasted within two weeks and then started on replacing the floor pan and doing some minor welding shortly there after.

Mayer65Just a few weeks into the project I received a request from a fellow Mustang Enthusiast (Darrel Mayer) to trade out my time slot so his 1965 Mustang Resto-Mod could be completed in time for SEMA 2008; I agreed with the stipulation that my Mustang would be painted in early October just after Darrel’s car came out of paint.

As the October deadline approached, neither mine nor Darrel’s car was any where near ready for paint, with 80% of the work remaining to be done. I began to express my MartiReport 001concerns about the progress and the deadline and was told “It doesn’t mater what you think about the progress, what matters is that the job gets done”; wrong it does matter I am the customer. At this point I decided that both projects could potentially end up a catastrophe and I was going to pull my project from the shop and began talking with the next potential shop; brought them out to take a look at the project and bid on the job; the car was pulled from L & H the following day.

Paint Shop Prison #2 (All Classic Restoration)

All Classic Restoration (Ron and Jeff Carson) stepped up to the plate next; they too started out aggressively and began work within days and projected a completion date of 4-6 weeks. I knew that 4-6 weeks was a pretty short window for this task and I didn’t think they would meet the deadline however, they would put in a concerted effort and would probably have the car just about ready for paint by the end of the duration.


Same old Story; the completion date came and went, the project wasn’t even 50% completed and far from seeing the paint booth. The progress gradually slowed to a near trickle and the next several weeks revolved around getting the paint matched.

There was a pattern emerging between the two shops. Once the deadlines passed I began hearing the whining about how much more work it was than anticipated; and I would agree if more work had been done.. “It’s only more work if you actually do the work!”

The whining continued about all of the time and difficulties trying to get the paint matched, as if this was the reason for the lack of real progress. Three attempts were made to get the paint matched, even the use of an $8,000 dollar analyzer; none were successful.

I was beginning to get irritated by the lack of progress and the whining about the work and the inability to get the paint matched correctly so I knew it was time to take the ball into my own hands. I made a decision to end the paint match issue by calling the paint supply house myself.

Well I got a match on the first try! Here is the kicker, Mike at Bob’s Paint Land in Vancouver Washington told me that he could mix it but he only had the formula for one brand of paint. So getting this match on the first shot really had me pissed that the body shop never got a sample of this paint as a starting point, this is when I realized I was dealing with another paint and body shop that was using short stir sticks and I decided to make the move to break my project out of this paint shop prison.

I could go on-and-on about the disappointments that led to a paint shop prison scenario; but I was lucky… Darrel’s car is in Paint Shop Prison at L & H Kustoms, is not complete and is being held hostage as a legal negotiation ensues.

The bottom line is both shops failed to complete any portion of my project, both missed there deadlines by a large margin and they both get an “F” in work ethic, craftsmanship, attitude and customer satisfaction; what they lack in ethics they makes up for with his lack of integrity.

If your taking you project to a paint and body shop good luck, try to avoid paint shop prison; and if you’ve had a paint shop prison experience feel free to post your comments.

Read the Top Ten Signs Your Project May End up in Paint Shop Prison

4 thoughts on “Paint Shop Prison

  1. Funny, I just got my Mustang back from “Paint Shop Prison”. The Sentence: Nine Months. Yes, nine months. Eeesh. I hope you get yours back sooner.
    Joey — January 23, 2009 1:15 PM

    Sounds like these body shop guys are related to the guy who did my ’67 Mustang. Fortunately I only asked for a, I want to get it on the road paint job. It only took 6 weeks(It was sunny alot so he was out riding when the sun was out.) Anyway I expected a daily driver paint job and he far exceed that expectation. He fixed some trouble spots that I didn’t see also. Had I had the cash I probably would have let him keep it for 6 months and do a resto on the car.
    My wife has a ’66 GT Mustang Convertible that I will take to him for a complete body resto next winter but these paint and body guys are easily distracted so I will expect at least a 6 month incarceration in bodyshop jail for her car.
    I am confident that he will do an excellent job and color match on Raven Black shouldn’t be too difficult!
    Roger — October 28, 2009 5:46 AM

    I have a 67 Mustang here in Tasmania, Australia that i imported from California in August of 2008. I have sprayed a few cars with average results and also painted original paint jobs for Kawasaki Z900 owners with excellent success. I have decided to do my own paint job the Mustang having learnt how to fix small dents and have matched the Acapulco Blue via a code found on the Hotrodders Web site.
    I have bought a new iwata gun and purchased a dvd on spraying cars which has lots of process tips. I could not go down the “Body Shop” prison mentality road. Average Joes has been great with lots of useful tips.
    Adrian — February 10, 2010 8:26 PM

    Jeff Carson, Beaver Creek Oregon is a Fraud, beware of anything he sells for he likes stealing money from people!
    mjn36 — November 10, 2012 10:19 PM

    The blue 68 Mustang Coupe (seen in the picture with yours up on the rack) has been there for… 5 years, yes… talk about a long prison term! Granted I had a ton of work done but still, I don’t have the car and literally every excuse in the book has been given. If you want deadlines and quick work that is not the place.
    Andy — June 23, 2013 11:32 PM

  2. This seems to be a very common experience for many.
    After saving for some time, I took my Shelby to a shop of someone who showed up at car shows with beautiful vehicles he had done, the issue is: They were all his personal vehicles.
    The vehicle was void of all glass and interior and had NO rust. It was simply blocking, panel alignment and paint.
    We agreed on a price to paint a bare shell, I gave him 5,000.00 up front.
    After five months, little had been done and he had moved the vehicle out to the back of his lot, as collision work came first. I understood that, but we agreed on no more than 12 months.
    After 150 days with no further progress, I decided I was just coming down and taking the vehicle home. When I arrived, he was removing his equipment. He had filed bankruptcy, and left 25 owners high and dry.
    In addition to taking 5,000.00 and doing very little work, he put a cheap tarp over my vehicle and allowed a freshly rebuilt 427 to get full of water, and all the AMK bolts and nuts to rust, as well as the chassis that completed was fouled with sanding dust, sand and overspray of all kinds.
    My project ceased for several years post that. It is only finally coming to a conclusion.
    I would recommend that you never pay more than 50-60% of a job before completion, and no large amounts up front. Pay as the hours are put in working. Inspect the work as they complete it so if you have an issue, it can be corrected to your satisfaction before paint.

  3. My 66 coupe has been in a paint shop for 9 months. The last 3 all that needs to be done is finish the stripes on hood and trunk, clear, wet sand, buff and polish. Been promised this will be done every week for three months. But no progress.

  4. You are all more fortunate than I. My car was in Paint Shop Prison for 4 years 3 months… enough time to complete my bachelors…

    YEAR 1

    I took it to him (T&A Auto – Randy Tiberi) with only the intention of fixing a ding in my passenger side quarter. I worked there as a summer job in high school so I embraced the idea of doing the work myself. I cleared off the old bondo from the panel, and there was evidence of patches being installed (brazing, etc.) and it looked as though I needed a quarter replaced… well in the following 3 months I installed a new quarter, wheel tub, full floor pan, front frame rails, 2 torque boxes, partial firewall, rear frame rails, trunk pan, and a new rear valence. I then bought all the shelby parts to clone a GT500 from tony branda, because I always loved the shelby look, since the car was clearly going to need a full paint job at this point from all the work being done, I figured I would knock out 2 birds with one stone.

    YEAR 2

    School was starting up at this time and I no longer had time to spend on the car, so I negotiated a deal with him to finish up the work by May. Fall and spring semesters came and went, and still the car was not even started. I had to leave town for a summer internship so I had my mind on other things, during this time he installed the drivers side quarter panel and wheel tub.

    YEAR 3

    During the cars time in the shop I got to see jobs come and go, as I stopped in every month or so, and He always said “your car is next”, “these people were in line first”, blah blah blah ” your car needs more work than expected”, “Insurance jobs come first” Me being rational, I would accept these excuses, and move on. the third year at paint shop prison came and went with virtually nothing being done until the end of the summer when he finally started fitting some of the shelby panels in place (not bolted, just test fits) and only the hood and deck lid.

    YEAR 4

    At this point I had been angry for years, I went from being 22 to almost 26 and my car was still nowhere near completed. I had a perfectly good running driving 67 and I never got to enjoy it and the shenanigans that could have been in college. I was really upset over this whole ordeal, and to help cope over the years it was in the shop I bought street bikes and Audi Sport vehicles to pass the time, but none of those could take the place the mustang had in my heart.

    The fourth year at paint shop prison came and went, but I did renegotiate the price, and set another deadline of May (so I could drive the car to my graduation). Up to about April there was almost zero progress, some partial priming and block sanding, the nose was fitted, etc. May came and went. The car got painted mid June, but there was still odds and end that needed rectified, undercoating, stripes, hardware, (it was still just a body shell at this point). I moved out of state to accept a job, and at this point I was 100% done with the BS. I told him done or not the car is leaving the last week of august. During this time he did paint the stripes on, but nothing else was done. I booked a one way flight and saw that it was far from done so I took a mini vacation and assembled the entire car in 4 days, Shelby hardware and all. there were some problems that arose that needed to be addressed (fuel lines, break lines, etc.), to make the vehicle derivable. I then chose to do a bucket list thing and drove it from Pittsburgh to Salt Lake City, which it did without a hitch. But here is the kicker, my car is still not undercoated, the underside is mostly bare, welds still need finished, plug welds still need ground, etc. The guy even over sprayed the whole car when he put on the stripes so I have gone through countless buffing pads. Then there is over spray all over the interior as well from him jamming the car. Essentially this guy waited till the last minute for everything then he rushed to try to get things done that were beyond possible in the time remaining. But I do have the car now, and I do get to enjoy it. Take some advice, never ever take a car to a friends shop, it creates a horrible situation when things are not accomplished on time, you are limited by friendship, and as a customer are unhappy.

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