Vintage Customs: Customers Beware - Page 3 - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #31 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the words of support and encouragement. Makes all of this BS a bit easier to handle.

One nice thing that I can say about VC is that they opened up a photo stream at the start of the job. They then regularly share photos along the way. These photos went from a few per week to a few per month to a few per quarter. Since my email, I am back to a few per week. So unless they have a cache of photos from before that they are just feeding me, the car is there and it is being worked on. The day after the come to Jesus conversation I got sent a video (can't post here, but below is the link on my Instagram) that showed a lot of progress.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BeasvlAH...n-by=ctnaegele

I will say a few things to counter my negative narrative about VC:
• They have acknowledged they messed up and as a result are only charging me for a minimal amount of work and any parts that have to be ordered.
• The work is admittedly...amazing
• One of the issues could have been on me. Apparently there were two unpaid invoices from 2 years ago that no one ever mentioned...I can only assume they were accidentally deleted from my email without me noticing. They totaled less than $1,000 but it was always showing me as not paid up. Apparently, whenever Daron would sit down at the start of each week to make the work list for what cars would be worked on, he took unpaid invoices into account. I just don't know why no one ever told me or why he made those decisions without checking in with me.
• Daron has offered to arrange delivery (if) when the car is done.

Last edited by cavilry; 02-07-2018 at 02:11 PM.
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post #32 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VenturaAlfa View Post
Sometimes a little sleuthing can possibly help. If yours is the burgundy 72 with the gold rims and 69 interior there are 4 current pictures of it on instagram. You say he doesn't contact you, well they seem to find time to post on instagram on a regular, almost daily, basis.

If you haven't before now google "Vintage Customs, llc." You will find an instagram account and 4 pictures of a burgundy 72 GTV like I described. The copy with the first picture says the car will be leaving them "very soon".

Hope this helps.

Ventura Alfa
Great find. Yup, that is my car. "Million boxes" You gotta be kidding...

1972 GTV- Terry Tinney-built motor/transmission, Custom 1750 Interior, and a whole lotta love
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post #33 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 02:24 PM
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Just as an FYI, Daron's last post on this BB was on 08 June 2014.

Jim

Series 2 USA 1750 GTV (in Series 1 European clothing)
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post #34 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 03:13 PM
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Well, those pictures give me some hope the car is really there and that they are working on it.

You are not the only customer that has been jacked around by this guy.

I'd still go get the car.

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post #35 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 03:41 PM
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Just brought back some very angry, frustrating Vintage Customs memories of my very own. My car was out 4 years total. I received it back after 2 years with an absolutely horrendous paint job, fully paid and 100% over budget, they took it back and repainted it, after another 2 f'ing years! He is full of stories, apologies and excuses. A real con artist, funny thing is everyone thinks he walks on water. I have spoken to a bunch of people after my experiences and they had the same outcome. Willing to take their car back in its condition for the sake of getting it back period. Whoa, take a deap breath now and pour yourself a nice drink.
Chris, take my advise in my PM.
Rant over.

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1972, 1973, 1974 Montreal
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post #36 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 03:44 PM
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Oh, and I still have the photos from when the car came back the first time if I am not to be believed.

1966 GTA replica, 1967 Duetto, 1987 Quadrifoglio
1972, 1973, 1974 Montreal
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post #37 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 05:27 PM
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Hmmm...

I should check with a local friend who sent his Giulia Super Colli wagon to them a few years ago.\
Not heard if he got it back !!

'64 Guilia Spider
'67 GTV
'68 Giulia Super

Conservatives-we work hard, so you don't have to !
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post #38 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-09-2018, 10:51 AM
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If there's an axiom that everyone pursuing restoration work should follow it's this: One of the biggest mistakes you can make in having restoration work done is to simply drop your car off . . . and then go away and wait for it to be finished. While there is a logic for this since this is how most people interact with car shops, the restoration process is vastly more complex and an entirely different experience from taking your Alfa in for a service and tune-up. Restoration can easily, although not always, take years to finish and can involve multiple specialists doing work on your car that are no longer employed by the shop. For reasons unknown or simply odd, delays can and will probably happen and estimates and timelines with both escalate and disappear. At one end of the restoration process you can have a splendid result, a car that exceeds your expectations---while at the other end you can have a shop going out of business and actually abandoning your restoration.

What I'm talking about here is simply the practical reality of the car restoration business. While there are variations on my examples, I think I'm right in describing what you can expect to encounter. That said, I think it's also important to stress the importance of staying on top of the job. If you are having restoration work done plan on regularly visiting the shop doing the work. This can pose some problems if you happen live some distance from the shop but, IMHO, it's important to physically visit the shop and see the work being done with your own eyes. You need to be there, preferably once a month or, even better, every other week at least. Ask about where your parts are stored and, if necessary, do your own inventory on "unobtanium" parts. Make a point of being informed of the various stages of the restoration so that you know when and how specific work is being done---and by who. Shops are busy places and with people coming and going, parts can easily go walkabout.

Good shops will welcome this kind of attention and understand completely why you are doing it. Any shop doesn't want to let you see the work they're doing or talk to the guys doing the work isn't a shop you want to be doing work on your car. Recently, I visited a "restoration" shop thinking they might do some work on my Super. When they wouldn't let me talk to the staff or visit the work areas "due to our insurance" I promptly left. Simply put, if a shop doesn't want paying customers around, you're in the wrong shop.
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Jim . . . '72 Super 1300, '70, 1750GTV, 2nd series,
'62, Lancia Flaminia Zagato3c, 2nd series

Last edited by 180OUT; 02-09-2018 at 01:37 PM.
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post #39 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-09-2018, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by 180OUT View Post
I think it's also important to stress the importance of staying on top of the job. If you are having restoration work done plan on regularly visiting the shop doing the work. This can pose some problems if you happen live some distance from the shop but, IMHO, it's important to physically visit the shop and see the work being done with your own eyes.
Right! Phrased a different way, having to chose between a local shop who may not be a specialist in your particular marque, and a "big name" shop located some distance away, the local guy is usually the right answer. Yes, you will have to pay for the local guy's education, but you will save overall by regularly monitoring the job.

Quote:
Ask about where your parts are stored and, if necessary, do your own inventory on "unobtanium" parts.... Shops are busy places and with people coming and going, parts can easily go walkabout.
When I was having my Sprint GT restored, I would visit the shop ~ weekly, bringing and retrieving the trim parts (grilles, tail lights, etc.) as they were needed. I didn't allow them to sit around the shop any longer than necessary. I trusted the proprietor and employees of this shop completely, but random people were coming and going from the facility. Also, "unobtanium" parts that go walkabout aren't necessarily stolen - they can get inadvertently thrown out, packed with a different customer's car, stepped on, driven over, or just irretrievably lost.


I hope this doesn't come across as criticism of cavilry - when he sent his car off to Vintage Customs, the proprietor was active on the BB, he was posting videos on YouTube, ...; in other words, he seemed credible. But apparently health issues, financial issues, or ??? have arisen since that time. At this point, a trip to Washington is probably cavilry's best next move; sending more emails probably won't accomplish much.

Jay Mackro
San Juan Capistrano, CA

'63 Guilia spider
'65 Guilia Sprint GT
'67 Duetto
'91 164L

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post #40 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-09-2018, 02:18 PM
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Also, "unobtanium" parts that go walkabout aren't necessarily stolen - they can get inadvertently thrown out, packed with a different customer's car, stepped on, driven over, or just irretrievably lost.
Well said! My 1750 GTV is a good case in point. A number of years ago the previous owner put the car in a friend's shop for a bare metal respray and interior refurbishment. For some reason---nobody at the time could explain why---the interior fittings: door hardware, door cards, arm-rests, carpets---literally everything but the seats---was thrown in the dumpster and hauled off before anyone noticed. This was a disaster because Alfa USA wasn't supplying trim parts for cars this old and the vintage parts suppliers were not yet in business. As a result, my GTV was sold to me with a "make-do" interior which can now fortunately be relatively easily replaced with proper door cards and sundry hardware. But as these "unobtanium" parts couldn't be replaced their absence caused considerable angst with both the shop and the GTV's owner. I will add that my friend's shop was a reputable and well respected shop which turned out first class work. Although they don't like to talk about it, even the best shops can screw up.

I'd like to add that over the years I've gotten to know Daron and consider him a friend. Every time I've called with a question, Daron or one of his guys has taken the time---and this is a busy shop---to help me solve my problem. Not many shops will do this and, like letting you see the work being done, this is one of my litmus tests for a good shop. I've also had an opportunity to closely inspect several examples of the work performed by his shop---both full-tilt restorations and less-complex repairs---and the quality of the work on these cars was unwaveringly first-class.

Please note that this is not intended to be a rejoinder to this thread but rather an observation that I've made of some examples of Vintage Custom's work. In particular I can mention the Giulia Super owned by our club president. Simply put, this car is the finest restored Giulia Super I've ever seen. This is saying a lot since the body that Daron had to start with was quite honestly more rust than metal: the entire bottom third had to be remade.

Jim . . . '72 Super 1300, '70, 1750GTV, 2nd series,
'62, Lancia Flaminia Zagato3c, 2nd series

Last edited by 180OUT; 02-09-2018 at 04:24 PM.
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post #41 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-09-2018, 02:29 PM
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For some reason---nobody at the time could explain why---the interior fittings: door hardware, door cards, arm-rests, carpets---literally everything but the seats---was thrown in the dumpster
Probably some well-meaning employee - who was used to working on two year old Lexus - figured that no doubt new parts were on order, so the old stuff should go in the dumpster. The less time your irreplaceable bits are at the body shop, the less likely such incidents are to happen.

Jay Mackro
San Juan Capistrano, CA

'63 Guilia spider
'65 Guilia Sprint GT
'67 Duetto
'91 164L

Last edited by Alfajay; 02-09-2018 at 04:01 PM.
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post #42 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-09-2018, 03:48 PM
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I went through this with Vintage Customs about 4 years ago. A 1960 Sprint Veloce. A $20000 (body job only) turned in to over $60000 and took over 3 years. It was a piece of junk when I got it back. Thick filler, spider cracking paint, paint so thick I have pictures of it coming off in sheets with a scraper, etc. I hate reading this story because it brings back so much anxiety, heartache and disappointment. I eventually had to send someone pick the car up. The paint was nice at first glance... maybe 10ft. After sitting for about three months all hell broke loose, it turned in to a real mess as we started to inspect it closer. The trunk lid alone weighed about 3 times what a stock trunk weighed because there was so much filler. It cost me about $15000 to have the car striped again and done right. I don't think Daron has the ability to tell the truth so don't expect it. He was making a real attempt to become some kind of reality star with his slick videos, that never panned out. At one point about 18 months in to the project I was talking to someone who told me to go get the car no matter what the condition, I didn't take the advice and I regretted the decision. Daron doesn't do good work, he is dishonest and and devoid of any guilt for his misdeeds over the years.

63 Giulia Spider Abnormale, 65 Sprint Speciale
60 Sprint Veloce, 59 Spider Veloce
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post #43 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-09-2018, 04:42 PM
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Having read everyone's input on this thread I would be hard pressed to understand sending a car there. Revelations like those expessed here are examples of what make this site so valuable. Thanks all for sharing. I would be freaking out if if I was a business owner reading such feedback. Hopefully a wake up call for somebody.
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post #44 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-09-2018, 04:45 PM
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The less time your irreplaceable bits are at the body shop, the less likely such incidents are to happen.

I think your idea about holding on to trim stuff and only bringing it into the shop when needed is excellent. But doing this also demands that you be more directly involved in the work being done than many people are willing to commit to. Of course screw-ups can still happen---like when a chrome shop lost all the outside trim for a Giulia SS that that the shop was working on. Just try ordering those pieces 30 years ago!

Although it isn't much discussed, I tend to think that the people who have the best experiences with restoring cars also know how to fix cars themselves. Shop culture has it's own discrete understandings and if you can work on Alfas yourself and you have your Alfa at an Alfa specific shop or an Italian car shop, there's just a level of understanding that that can develop that can keep everything working smoothly. My psychologist friend calls this "deep woo-woo" and probably it is.

Jim . . . '72 Super 1300, '70, 1750GTV, 2nd series,
'62, Lancia Flaminia Zagato3c, 2nd series

Last edited by 180OUT; 02-09-2018 at 04:50 PM.
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post #45 of 178 (permalink) Old 02-09-2018, 05:01 PM
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Just for future reference. If you just need body work done. Tom Black at Tom Blacks Garage in Portland Oregon does fantastic work. He did a 63 SS for me. Took a year but he told me that up front and he was very reasonable. Don't know if he's still working as hard or at all but a great guy. I've restored 4 Alfa's over the past 10 years and only send out the work I'm not comfortable doing myself such as the body and engine. I've taken them all down to bare metal after taking them apart and put them all back together myself. All but one has sold in the six figures and that one was a 63 Spider Normalle. Now ask me if I made any money on them? ...it's a hobby.

63 Giulia Spider Abnormale, 65 Sprint Speciale
60 Sprint Veloce, 59 Spider Veloce
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