The hood disaster sped things up for me--proof that things happen for a reason. Before the incident I was resigned to working on the car myself and going to under-the-tree mechanics to handle the odd jobs. The alignment problems with the grille and doors were also things I was willing to live with. In hindsight, I have no idea why I thought that letting the wagon remain in this state was going to be a wise move. I'm telling you, it was a very a low point for me and it was getting very difficult to press on.
So, in a way, the hood flying open and causing body damage was probably a good thing. It pushed me to contact the man I initially wanted to handle the job back in December 2008. You can read about him in this entry: Learning From The Pros.
Alfred Perez is known in the car show circuit and I'm a fan of his work. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford the estimate he gave me back in 2008 for a car-show level restoration, so I decided to take my wagon elsewhere (you can read my gripes about shop number one here: 12 Things To Expect When Restoring A Car). Looking back, I wish that I had just agreed to having the car done at Alfred Motorworks because the amount I spent in two years was almost the same as his quote, and that's without factoring in all of the time that was wasted and the headaches of dealing with unscrupulous individuals.
I gave Alfred a call, hoping that he would take my car in. He tells me that it is more difficult to correct other's mistakes than to start from square one, but he decided to take my wagon in anyway--probably because I practically begged. I have a feeling that he felt sorry for me because of my bad experiences at the first two shops.
When I started this project almost two years ago it was clear what I wanted, and my vision for the restoration wasn't over-the-top. Given the budget that I set aside, all that I expected was a clean paintjob, the removal of all the rusty bits, and proper alignment for the trim pieces. Apparently, the first two shops where I brought the wagon for the restoration couldn't deliver even the most basic requirements--with me being blamed for being too meticulous. Alfred, however, is the man to go to if you like to get into details.
For the third time the wagon enters another shop and I could only hope for the best. Fortunately for me, Alfred is a true professional. We go through my to-do list and set the timeframe. The estimate was also not as frightening as I thought it would be, but was still significant.
Work begins again:
There was no choice but to burn paint where crucial body repair was required. This is a hard and expensive lesson--one that anybody interested in fixing old cars up should be aware of and avoid. Here we are attacking the rust that was hastily covered in paint at the previous shop. We are also fabricating a lip for the attachment of the weatherstrips. It is attention for details like this that set real restoration shops apart from so-called 'experts' and 'specialists.'
Finally, this gets attention. With a little magic the grille is finally aligned. Alfred's boys fabricated the missing brackets and mounts to make sure that the wagon's face was handsome again.
The way this mirror was positioned before was all wrong, but Alfred's guys managed to fix the problem with a little massaging. You can also see the burn marks where the hood was repaired.
Here's another shot of the sexy fender mirrors. I love them to bits, especially as they are now aligned. The JDM look wasn't in my plans, but there is something very classic about using old-style mirrors. I was lucky to score a set. These are OEM for the Japanese Galant.
Again, a shot of the damage (and repair) from not fastening my hood down. With a little effort everything can be fixed.
Alfred insisted that I bring all of my parts in already. At first I was hesitant and worried that the parts may get lost (like they did in the previous shops) but my fears were put to rest. Nothing was lost or misplaced. Here's a shot of the interior. The sidings were repaired.
I am excited now. It looks like third time's really the charm. It pays to be patient.