I really, really wanted to write this as the last installment in this saga. I wanted to write "you know, it was painful along the way but the outcome was worth it" but I can't. Last night was one of the most disappointing experiences of my life. When I saw the trailer roll up in the grocery store parking lot and he opened the back to reveal my car, I was beyond excited. When I got 2 compliments on it before it was even out of the trailer fully, I was excited. But very, very quickly the disappointment began. Before I fully begin this tale let me say this: no, I don't think anything catastrophic is wrong. However, when I wait 3 years and 5 days and pay over $20,000 just to have the car finished, I expected to have a much different experience upon our being reunited.
The trouble began when I went to start the car...nothing. My heart dropped...turns out they just didn't tighten the positive battery terminal all of the way so it was loose. I also noticed some loose wires hanging out from under the dash, oh well.
After paying the driver (surprise surprise, Daron didn't pay his half as he had promised) I drove the 1.2 miles to my dad's house to surprise him. On the way, the shift knob fell off...I laughed it off and continued on my merry way noticing the fuel gauge bouncing all around.
My dad was over the moon! We walked around the car and I showed him the car I've dreamt about for most of my life, and waited on for 9 years. Sure enough, the wheels were dirty and there was residue all over the emblems. Whatever...cars can be cleaned.
I drove my dad back to my truck so he could take it to my house. Someone approached us as we parked and let us know that the right brake light was out. Okay..that's a pain. I went to verify and when I put on the parking brake, it wouldn't stay clicked in the up position.
Whatever...so far pretty minor things. I jumped in my car with a huge smile on my face and drove (still with no shift knob) the 2.8 miles home. The tach or speedo still do a very odd "whir" but whatever, I like quirks. I then noticed a weird noise and shutter anytime I would hit a dip or bump coming from the rear. I figured it might just be something minor...it is a low car without a lot of suspension to work with so I added it to the checklist to check out at some point.
I got home and prepped the garage for the car as my dad checked out the engine and interior, exclaiming how amazing it all was. He pointed out the rusty pieces in the engine bay, which Daron had said would be cleaned up and painted...it wasn't. When he asked about the odd piece of suede on the center console, I remembered it was Daron's "fix" for the glue or whatever it was on the suede. It doesn't look as clean as he said, but whatever. He mentioned the vent was sticking out, but I couldn't get it back in...okay, still minor. He noticed the seal on the door wasn't seated and neither he nor I could get it on there...again, easy enough to address.
Finally my wife got home and I showed off my car with pride. See, it DOES exist! We jumped in to go on a quick little ride to take my dad home and, what's this? I can't... As soon as I start driving, a grotesque rubbing/grinding noise starts in the rear, reminiscent of that clunk when I hit a bump previously. It seems with the weight of 3 people the same thing that happened on bumps is happening all the time.
At this point I wanted to cry...I'm a grown man and I almost couldn't hold back the tears I was so sad, frustrated, and disappointed. The maiden voyage in the car with my wife that I've been SO excited about for so long didn't make it out of the driveway. I pulled the car in the garage and drove my dad home in my truck.
I don't know what to do anymore. I can't think straight, I can't bring myself to call Daron, and I don't know where to begin on fixing things on my car. I truly don't mind the little things, though I don't think that one should have to deal with them when you pay so much to have someone finish your car and "finish it right" as I've stated as my reason from the start. But whatever is going on in the rear of my car is NOT normal and NOT okay.
• Loose battery cable
• Loose wires under the dash
• Unpaid shipping fee
• Brake light out
• Shift knob fell off
• No parking brake
• Whirring guages
• Odd "fix" on center console
• Door seal falling off
• Dash vent not in
• Broken piece of dash trim
• Rusty pieces in engine bay
• Clunk/grinding on bumps
• Clunk/grinding/rubbing when driving with multiple people
I just don't know what to do...
I can't figure out how to embed them (the IMG code wouldn't work), so photo links below.
Oh man, I feel your pain. But I think you are close - don't give up!
The main frustration being the clunking/rubbing - sounds like you've got weak rear springs and the car is sagging under load and scrapping the tires. It should never happen after all you've gone through but it is a fairly easy fix. New rear springs are easy to find and replace. That should get you on the road.
The rest of the stuff is unexcusable given the time, money and expertise involved in this project. But they are all fixable.
My suggestion - Forget VC and drive the car a bit (without passengers) and fall in love with it. It certainly looks lovely. These cars are quirky and will always be up to something but when you're in love you can overlook such things.
The best part of this saga is that you've got the car back. It will get better!
Perhaps it would have been a good idea for you to have visited Daron's shop before your car was shipped? That way you could have knocked off the various problem areas before the car got shipped to you. In restoration work, attention to detail is often as much your responsibility as it is the shop doing the work. That's why it's so important to stay on top of the job as the work is progressing.
Sorry to hear about the crappy situation, and I agree that's not at all what you should've gotten after spending so much money and waiting so long. But take a deep breath: you've finally got the car back, it runs and drives, and all the stuff you found can be fixed.
Hell, that list sounds like my "new problems to fix" list every weekend on the Alfas...
Yep. This stuff falls under the heading of "fettling". It can all be fixed relatively easily.
I believe you need to have a nice pour of you favorite beverage and get on the phone to VC and voice your total displeasure with the results AFTER you spoke with him about its needs when you were there. Whats going to happen, either he will agree or disagree with you, back up your claims with photos and video if possible. Maybe, just maybe you'll get some compensation back. That's what I did. Don't let him get away "scot-free"
I feel your pain. When you spend that much it should be right. Fortunately much of what is there is minor even though it shouldn't be there at all. Your experience was similar to mine when I had mine painted. Unfortunately for me it was a friend that was a top notch painter (Think Pebble Beach and Amelia Island) who painted mine and the results ruined a friendship. I'm still trying to straighten mine out and its three years later.
Get to work over the weekend, take care of the small stuff and take it out for a drive.
My 15 year old son wants the VW bus next to it; he thinks that is much cooler.
haha! Thanks! The Westy Bus I did myself...should have just gone the same route on the Alfa! :)
Try again on photos
The email blast to his whole organization seems to be the ticket. His wife called him, and Daron called me. Daron sounded concerned and conciliatory and I honestly believe he wants to make it right... I'm hopeful for his resolutions because I'm a naturally optimistic dude, but we'll see.
He believes the grinding/rubbing/shuttering in the rear is due to the 3" carbon drive shaft that is on there. He is going to pull the 2" one off his car (because they're backordered) and send it down to Terry Tinney in Livermore to have him do the swap. (Daron will pay)
He says the parking brake had had to be rewelded and they just didn't have the time to adjust. Tinney will do this. (Daron will pay)
He will send me a new brake light assembly. He says that it had been finicky from the start but he thought he had it. I will swap this myself.
He said the driver was supposed to take half the cost off, but will send me the money this week.
The little things I will deal with myself and chalk it up to ****** but the cost of doing business.
Yep just fix it yourself. Please for the love of God, don't send it back or keep being involved with a company that you are not getting any joy from. Chalk it up to experience and move on.
And why or why do we need a carbon fibre drive shaft ... ? ... bin that and put back the original and one problem very, very easily solved.
Please get rid of the wiper blades they so detract. from the lines.. oh BTW stop the check....
Congratulations ,you should be rejoicing that your car is no longer being held hostage by Vintage Customs :clap: Now Enjoy that car , find yourself a good honest mechanic, move forward and never look back again. Your car is stunning btw.
A few minor things to give you something to do in the weekends and you will have a very good car.
BTW: Is she a converted from Spica car? I say this because the fuel line route is unique as are the air cleaners. Fuel line on my (original) carbed car comes up in front of the first carb.
Good to see you go at your car back. A couple of projects to work on, take it a project at a time.....once its done, it will be all worth it. Enjoy the car and thanks for sharing!
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