28 April 2011

Losses and Lessons: Restoration shop or chop shop?

VEHICLE COVERED: 1970 Dodge Charger 383/290 500

WHAT WENT WRONG: The Charger had been in the family since new and still had many of its original parts and options, including a pistol-grip shifter and bench seats. It had been sitting in the family’s garage for nearly 10 years when it was taken to a shop for a frame-off restoration. The vehicle owner selected the shop based on a phonebook advertisement and a 20-minute discussion with the shop owner. He dropped the vehicle off in April 2009 and was promised it would be finished in “6-8 months.” When the owner of the vehicle called the shop in December to inquire about his car, the phone had been disconnected. He drove to the shop, where he found a police notice on the door asking for information about the owner. He was informed that his vehicle was one of 11 that had been completely stripped and the parts sold. The shop owner has since been indicted on federal charges.

DAMAGE/LOSS: The car was a total loss. Hagerty paid the client $50,000 – the Guaranteed Value of the vehicle.

LESSON: Do your homework. Always make sure you’re dealing with a reputable outfit. For starters, Google the shop, contact the Better Business Bureau and ask for a list of clients who have used the shop and/or contact Hagerty and ask for information about the shop/owner. What shops are recommended by your fellow collectors? When you select a shop, discuss a specific timeframe with the shop owner and sign a contact if needed. Stay up to date on the process and visit the shop periodically to make sure the expected restoration work is being done.

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