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Discussion Starter #1
We are about to start the rescue of an abused and long suffering Giulietta race car, and would like very much to start a thread that follows the project from start to finish. We ask for all comments and suggestions, and, as always constructive criticism is welcome at any time. This is a long and convoluted story of an old war horse that deserves to have a better life than it has had over the last few years.
About 4 years ago I saw a 1959 Giulietta 750 spider race car featured on Bring a Trailer. It was being auctioned on Ebay, and looked pretty solid, and came with a boatload of spares, including 3 complete engines and three transmissions. Surprisingly, there was a real lack of bids on the car, and I wound up winning the auction for $5100, which I thought was a real bargain. My “name” on BaT was Abnormale, for the reason that I don’t mind modifying a car to make it safer and perform better than the original. My idea for this car was to bring it back as a street car, making it as visually as close to factory original as possible, but to install a 1600 engine with a 5-speed transmission. I also have a Centerline front disc brake kit ready to install, but have not yet decided on using it. This link leads to the follow up article I sent to BaT about the car being picked up in Upstate New York by a couple of Alfa buddies after I bought it.

BaT Success Story: 1958 Alfa Romeo Spider Barn Find | Bring a Trailer

This is where the plot gets a bit darker. I turned the car over to a restoration "expert" who came with high recommendations from some local Alfa owners, and I left for an extended project in the Middle East feeling sure that the car was in good hands. Over the next two years I received updates, and a couple of photos from restorer, which were quite reassuring. However, when I returned home, I found it hard to pin the restorer down to arrange for an on-site visit, and, in fact, I found out by chance, that the car was being moved around from garage to garage. To cut a long story short, I recovered the car about 6 months ago and had the Bondo removed, only to find a total butcher job underneath. The car had been brutalized and the rot covered over, in spite of the restorer being handed a complete set of new body panels.
I am fortunate in that a good friend in our local group of car nuts is Bill Longyard, a well known expert on metal shaping, and author of two books on the art of restoring a car and the use of the English wheel. I asked Bill to look at the Giulietta and give me his evaluation on whether the car could be saved or not. Bill’s view was that it showcases every metal working sin in the book, and has a few new ones that had not been thought of before. Bill has been kind enough to provide a detailed review of the car in the form of a video which can be seen here on You Tube.

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The video is exceptional in that it not illustrates the bodywork problems, but also the actions that can be taken to correct them. Bill also looks at the repair panels that came from a well known aftermarket provider, and he points out problems such as warped floor pans, and incorrectly formed fender panels.

The real restoration of the Giulietta starts today when the new rotisserie is delivered. Bill Longyard has agreed to do the metal work, and I would like to make Bill’s video the starting point of a thread that follows the restoration of the car back to a condition close to that of factory original.
 

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Hi Richard,

Have seen your/Bills video and its really appalling, I really feel your pain.

Why don´t you name this "well known aftermarket panel provider" as well as the "expert" restorer?
These guys don´t deserve to sell one more panel or one more job producing crap like this? That´s a clear theft and fraud !!!!

I have my suspicions who the after market panel provider is, but can´t name the company here as it only is a suspicion, no hard prove that you have.

Dennis
 

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Most of "us" who do-the-work know the panel supplier. If you personally ask one of the "older-guys" that save these cars, they will tell you. Most of us avoid discussing the "BAD" other than to one another. It's always a question of "Who did this job?!" when something is BAD. I just finished a Ferrari Dino Weber induction system restoration. Often, I thought "Who did this?" when repairing others damage.
The lesson is to those that PAY for this work. Cheap is NEVER, EVER best. Look for a high quality shop, dedicated to proper repair or restoration. Check with others that have used that shop or individual. Those of us that do it RIGHT, pride ourselves on 100% customer satisfaction. {Ask MY customers!}. This IS a very worthy restoration thread for the BB. The car owner has admitted his errors and made that public. He has learned an important lesson in saving a car we all love. His thread will help countless others avoid problems with QUALITY restoration. KEEP IT UP Richard!
 

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The lesson is to those that PAY for this work. Cheap is NEVER, EVER best. Look for a high quality shop, dedicated to proper repair or restoration. Check with others that have used that shop or individual. Those of us that do it RIGHT, pride ourselves on 100% customer satisfaction. {Ask MY customers!}. This IS a very worthy restoration thread for the BB. The car owner has admitted his errors and made that public. He has learned an important lesson in saving a car we all love.
Its correct what you say here Gordon regarding cheap work or parts never pay off, except Richard here couldn´t know, as he unsuspecting relied on his Alfa buddies high recomendations regarding the "fantom restorer" and his long stay abroad after he left the car with this bungler didn´t help the situation either, I´d rather say an extremely bad, bad luck.....

Dennis
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Bill Longyard's comment about staying on top of a project and never take anything for granted is the best advice ever.

At the same time that I gave the Giulietta race car to the unnamed restorer, I also gave a rare 1978 Maserati Kyalami to well known, full-size restoration shop in Greensboro, NC. The shop was full of BMW 3.0CS's, Jags, and hot rods, and the work appeared to be top notch. The Maserati was also a Bring A Trailer find and came to me in very good mechanical condition, but an unknown body condition. It turned out that the car was a rusty mess under the bondo, and the shop started the project with me watching them like a hawk on a mouse. The first six months produced top quality work, and I was happily choosing the final paint color.

Then I left for the Middle East, and no work was done for the next 30 months. I finally pulled the car out of their clutches when they admitted that they had broken the front windshield ($2600 to replace), but would not pay for it, because "it broke itself, nothing to do with them". I now have the car in a storage locker, and Bill went through it and said that he can correct the problems and have it ready for paint in one month. My point is - whatever happened to good old fashioned American pride in workmanship? The shop owner was the one who whined constantly about not being able to find qualified people, but he refused to accept ultimate accountability. I'm going to put my soapbox away now, but I count myself as being exceptionally fortunate to know Bill, and to have him working on the Giulietta.
 

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This should give pause to anyone who thinks that restorations are just a matter of writing a check... I don't mean that as a sour note, in your case. Even "good shops" can screw up ..How many good surgeons do we know that left their work to a mortician? It's a crap shoot and if you can't be there to follow the work, as Bill says, it really becomes a bad situation regardless of the quality of the reputation of the shop. Even Bill mentioned options that need to be agreed to by all parties.
 

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This should give pause to anyone who thinks that restorations are just a matter of writing a check... if you can't be there to follow the work, as Bill says, it really becomes a bad situation ....
Not to make excuses for these shop owners, but these people tend to be artists, not accountants or project managers. In most restorations, the role of the accountant / project manager / QA inspector falls on the owner.

If you need to leave town for a year, it's probably best to put the restoration on hold, put the car in storage, and resume work when you return. It would be nice if progress continued in your absence, and a well-executed, complete restoration awaited you upon returning; in reality, that seldom happens.

Richard: I'm looking forward to following your restoration thread. Is the goal still to "bring it back as a street car, making it as visually as close to factory original as possible, but to install a 1600 engine with a 5-speed transmission." ?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi Jay, thanks for your comment. The car will look completely factory with original color (white) and interior (red). Standard steel wheels, and that's it. I like to drive my Alfas as much as possible, and I always found the 1300cc a bit lacking in overall grunt and low end torque on the mountain runs here in North Carolina. I had a 1600cc engine in my 1961 Giulietta spider, which I recently sold, and found that it was a really good size for the car. The drum brakes on the 61 spider sometimes scared me on the long downhill curvy mountain roads, so I'm tempted to put a disc brake conversion on the front end of the project car. Any advice on the advisability to convert to front discs would be much appreciated.
 

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I've converted these cars back and forth between factory discs and drums, and discussed my experiences elsewhere on the BB. You will find it costly to locate a good set of factory discs, though there are alternatives. I raced my '65 Ausca Spider for years with the factory helical-cut-finned rear brakes, and late 1600 Normale 2 shoe front helical-cut-finned brakes. Both had racing linings, bonded and riveted to the shoes. A bias adjustment valve was located within easy driver reach, behind the passenger seat.
I found the factory disc drum set-up had some issues for me in racing. Pedal pressure was spongy with the factory 3/4" master cylinder. The disc assembly weighed more than the front 2 shoe drum, and the 3 shoe front drum still more. My concern was that in racing, the front 2 shoe might have been inadequate. I was wrong. Many racing miles later, the 2 shoe front brakes were removed, and the car converted back to factory discs for street use. I found the lining wear on the 2 shoes to be about 1/2 used. The rears, less than 1/3. I never had brake fade with the drums on the track. I used a 1" master cylinder, and stainless braded rear flex line and 2 braded stainless flex in front. I used ATE Green fluid. To eliminate some spongy pedal with front discs, a 1" master cylinder does this at the cost of higher pedal pressure. I did a conversion on a late SS that had 3 shoe front drums, and kept the 1 & 1/8" master cylinder from the 3 shoe set up. This gave a VERY hard pedal requiring considerable pedal pressure, with no sponginess at all. The owner liked it so it still has the big master cylinder.
In conclusion, the Giulia helical rears, with matching Giulietta helical fronts make a good combination for street or track. Easy to adjust and service. Good pedal feel. No fade after racing use. Lighter front brakes for less unsprung weight than either discs or 3 shoe drums. Worked fine for me in this light car.
 

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Richard,
You have my sympathies about the terrible state of affairs. It's really shameful how many of us have been duped by crooked classic car shops, and it amazes me to no end that this behavior isn't considered felonious by our state attorney generals. But, I'm glad to hear you found one of the good guys to right these wrongs and I look forward to your writeup as a way to educate myself on the 750d (I just bought one that will need some work down the road). The video looks great, and your chassis will be one of the best when finished. The documentation you create will likely substantially increase the value and more importantly your satisfaction with the car when done.

BTW, mine is also a vintage race car, and if you have any spare street equipment you don't need when it's all done, I might be interested in some of it.

John
 

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Sorry to slightly disagree, but this case doesn't sound like that of a misguided genius artist who can't plan and organize. It sounds more like what I'm used to encountering ... guys with excellent speaking skills combined with poor actual skills and no moral qualms abour robbing people.

I've also dealt with the misguided genius types too, and fail to understand why we as customers should foot the bill for their inability to be truthful to us about their ability to manage the projects that they legally agree to undertake.

BTW, is it against forum etiquette to mention problem shops (e.g. only done via PM?)
John
 

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because "it broke itself, nothing to do with them".

You may no longer be interested in pursuing it, but there is a fundamental element in such cases. If a business has full control of the object, then they are responsible for what happens to it even if they didn't see exactly how it happened.

The case I'm familiar with was an airplane that was parked on the ramp after arrival. The owner of the operation asked the owner of the aircraft to give him the key, in case they needed to get inside to release the brakes in order to move it. He gave them the key. The airplane suffered some wind damage. The court decided that since the operator had "full control" of the aircraft as evidenced by having the key, he was responsible for protecting it from damage. Had the aircraft just been parked outside without giving control, there would have been no liability.

Clearly, as your car was in their possession, and they were working on it, they had full control. You can demand that they make good on the windshield. I suspect it might require a lawyer, and you may not want to go that route, but you'd win.
 

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Just watched the video. Reminds me of how I used to repair bodies. Just kidding. Seeing the horror of what was done to your car is what my teen age daughters would call an OMG moment. Good luck with the new work.
 

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Bill Longyard brings a number of very good points. Personally, I am a firm believer that Oxy-acetylene is the way to go when working on body panels period. Oxy-acetylene is a hardly used technique not taught at most trade schools. I learned Oxy-acetylene when equipment and vehicles needed repairs by people that worked at my father's ranch. Growing up in Puerto Rico by the Ocean everything rusted away, and such repairs were common. Although, I do not delve myself with such tasks as I used to Carlos is a trained panel beater whom it is also a firm believer of the Oxy-acetylene process as much as possible. You can find some of our videos at Youtube under thegiuliettashop.

Likewise, understanding the behavior of metal is very important, where such skill takes time and patience to correctly and accurately complete. For the untrained person, the process might look easy. It is tedious endeavor and time-consuming beyond the average person understanding. I will be watching Bill Longyard's videos and progress. Good luck Richard looks like you have found a conscientious restorer.

Lionel
Auto Italia Sportiva | Sharing my passion for Alfa Romeo restoration, and metal, fabrication.
 

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For the last 18 months I have been supervising the restoration of my 1957 750D. It was a very rusty car when I bought it and it required major work.

I sourced high quality panels from Italy and sills (rockers) from Texas. Many of the crossmembers and other major load bearing parts were remade locally. Even so, much patient fettling was required to get various items to fit. The sills were a work of art in themselves and after we figured out what went where, the end result was a strong and rigid foundation. All of the major work has now been completed and the focus has now shifted to repairing the upper part of the body.

The guys doing the work are locals with a long history of high quality restoration. They use gas, TIG and MIG appropriately. They are masters with English wheels. They are patient, skilled and passionate. They document the process with many photographs and they have won many prizes for their work.

None of this has been cheap and it has taken time to either source or fabricate parts. I visit the shop every other week mainly to see what they are up to rather than to check up on them and in the end I hope to have a nice restored example of a classic, and in Australia, rare, iconic sports car from the 50s.

I will follow this thread with great interest.

Chris
 

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I just finished restoring my 1961 Sprint Veloce. I restored my 1957 Spider forty years ago and it was a good looking car. I am now restoring a 1956 Spider and a 1959 Spider Veloce. I rebuild engines, transmissions, suspensions and anything mechanical, but I do not do any body work, plating or interior restoration. I have other people do those jobs. I would like to fabricate body panels, but I need to have a restoration shop with the correct equipment. I also know that restoring cars is not an easy task and would never recommend it to someone who never worked on cars. I am helping a friend restore his 101 Sprint Veloce and it takes time to do an accurate job with correct engine, transmission, differential, gauges, etc. and original parts are not easy to locate. I have purchased parts from people all over the globe and even bought parts from Italy.
 

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I have restored three cars in my lifetime. Each one has a story..fortunately with a good ending .. and with a bit of luck. I tried in vain to get people to share costs with this forum on previous posts to open up the eyes of folks who think they know what they are getting into from just a cost basis but there was no response.

There could be books written on the process. I'm going to list some of the criteria I have found to use as a checklist of the venture.

Shop selection- The shop has to have these qualifications: Ability.. and skills to use it. I find the smaller the shop, the better it is. Projects that have a lot of stop-start situations for parts and other jobs they take on (panels,e.g.) cause your car to become a bane to the shop and initial enthusiasm wanes as YOUR car becomes a job rather than a commitment to do it right. They tend to take on more work that is easier and faster at your expense in the middle of your project. Projects that grow hair get pigeon holed by them when a better more profitable project comes in the door and you lose. Small shops with one guy responsible for the work stay better focused and are more accountable. They must have all the equipment for the tasks and skill to use it including an English wheel and welding equipment. Passion.. if they don't like these "funny Eyetalian" cars, walk. Accountablity.. How do they keep track of time? They should be forthright in their estimate of what it will cost and even so add 30 to 50% but yet you have some sort of expectations laid out between the two of you and, reluctant as they are, a good shop will be able to follow your budget and if they run into issues not planned they call. If they can't give you a reasonable "no higher than" number, walk. They don't know their business and you are going to pay for their own inefficiencies. If you don't do this, they have a license to write checks for you. Set up appointments on off-hours for progress reviews and insist on paying weekly or bi-weekly. This puts the onus on them to show their work over a controllable time period. $5000 lumps at a time is more convenient for them but you lose your perspective of what is being done. With Skype and You-tube, they have no excuse to not walk you through progress reports even if they are from a long distance.

I 'll follow on with my experiences with a body off Sprint Zagato (sold way too early), 750 Spider Veloce (looks like it did 30 years after it left the "shop", a dirt floor garage) and my award winning Sprint, gone to a new owner. Stay tuned. Uncle
 

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BTW, is it against forum etiquette to mention problem shops (e.g. only done via PM?)
John
John, I don´t know either if it is, but I definately do not see any reason why not hang out a guy or shop with his/their name here on the forum and among friends if they do a total screw up job like shown in the pics here (and I´m being very moderate and controlled here over how I express myself) !!!
I think its only logical to warn other alfisti colleagues from getting ripped off in this way again and hardly no reason covering for the dabblers.

Its actually not much different from the warnings from the sell/wanted section for the scammers....

Dennis
 

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I'm not sure a public thrashing is in the best interest of anyone. There are many projects touted as being well done here but at what cost? Does that mean the job was done properly even though the cost was over the moon? It works both ways. If anyone has to rely on a forum like this to learn who is doing good work and bad work, they are not asking the right questions in their search for a shop.
 
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