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Discussion Starter #21 (Edited)
Thank you all for the continued support and suggestions.

Surprise surprise, I got no video of a running car and no photos of the installed dash and console as promised.

Other than spreading my experience for the benefit of other Alfisti and BB members contemplating their services, does anyone know of any other recourse available?

Any thoughts on picking up a 90%-completed car? How many headaches will that present?
 

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As long as you and Vintage Customs agree to terminate the job and there are no outstanding bills, you should be ok. Hopefully, your car is not missing any parts.

Maybe a surprise visit might be in order. You can put your eyes on the car and document the condition and any missing parts. You might never see the missing parts, again. Once you document what is on the car, you'll have proof should you go with legal action.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
For inquiring minds, I still don't have my car back...a year plus since my last post...

Though I have seen more progress after sending an email calling them out. I do feel bad for Daron as I know he has some health issues but I just can't believe how long it has taken. Below is my email...just to give some perspective on why I am so upset.

January 24th, 2018

Daron...I've been as patient as I think any man can be. I've been as respectful as I possibly can to everything you have going on. I've understood and commiserated with you over illnesses and stress, I've done everything I can to ensure I don't add to that while still trying to keep a handle on my car. So please, do me the respect of reading the following and replying or calling me back.

You've lost parts of mine and charged me for them. At my urging that yes, indeed they were there, you miraculously found them. (brake lines, brake calipers, turn signal stock, etc. etc. etc.) So when you tell me I am missing something, why should I trust you (I have, and I've paid for it).

I've reminded you multiple times when you've FORGOTTEN what you were supposed to do to my car. I had to spend an hour going back through every communication to piece together a build list for you. I have very little confidence that what I initially requested will be fully realized with my car when you keep forgetting what we agree to.

When my 15k budget was blown to oblivion, I understood and paid my bills without complaint on time, every time.

When my 4 month deadline passed, I understood...When my 1 year and 4 month deadline passed, I understood. When my 2 year and 4 month deadline passed, I understood. Because of this I've missed out on cruises with my father, dates with my wife, car shows, car rallies, etc. All of this would have been possible before, which is why I bought the car. Now I have a baby on the way and all of the ways I'd planned to enjoy my car will be different or not possible at all. I missed out on a huge part of my life with this car because of YOU. The way I had you build the car was for me in a different part of my life...now that part of my life has passed. For example, I would have put the back seat back in if I'd known I would have a car seat in my life.

This was the car that I've wanted to use at my wedding since before I could drive, before the car ever existed. Ever since I was a kid I've dreamed of having an Alfa at my wedding...I didn't. In fact, in the time you've had my car I've MET A GIRL, PROPOSED, MARRIED HER, AND AM NOW EXPECTING A CHILD WITH HER. The crazy part? SHE HAS NEVER SEEN MY CAR!

I've spent almost 3 YEARS waiting for my car.

My fresh paint job I paid so much for...isn't fresh. My tires I bought are now a year and a half older than they were. My wheels that I scraped money together for...I haven't seen and god knows how they're doing after sitting for three years in a shop.

And all along through this process I've kept my cool as much as I can. All I've asked for is honesty, transparency, and communication.


Do I need to be an *******? Do I need to contract my lawyer to dig through all of the various communications we've had? Do I need to be a millionaire who you're intimated by? Do I need to be a guy with a race season coming up? Because I'm sorry, but I'm not. I'm a guy who has money for one car...one car that you have had for 3 years come April.


You told me on December 13th to give you two weeks to provide me with a delivery date for my car. I've now called weekly ever since. I've talked to Jacob and left a message, I've talked to Ariel and left a message, I've left voicemails...and never a call back. How on God's earth do you run a business like this Daron?

Please...please Daron. Tell me when I can have my car back.

Chris
 

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Heartbreaking.

It's experiences like this that make me keep doing my own work.

I hope you can come to a satisfactory resolution.

Bob
 

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You're a patient man!...

Go get it, throwing good money after bad is never fun. if it truly needs a professional hand to finish, try santos.
 

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This was a excruciating read! You are well beyond patient.

I can't imagine this happening. I spoke with Daron a year ago and he seemed well and ready to take on my GTV project had I been ready to go.

I agree with kpc, fly up, grab a one way truck & trailer, have proof of ownership, maybe even inform the local authorities (should you think there may be a issue) prior to traveling.

Are you sure your car is actually there?

Good luck!
 

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Sorry to hear about the saga- it's the stuff nightmares are made of but surprisingly common with shops that do this sort of work. Shop owners get in over their head for one reason or another and can't complete the work.

Since they've not made any moves towards getting their act together, I'm going to agree with others to say that at this point you should probably just go get your car regardless of what state it's in. As someone who recently did the newborn baby thing, I will say that you CAN continue to make progress on your car. Even if it's slow, you know the work is getting done.
 

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Vintage customs

Hi Chris,

So sorry to hear about this. 3 years on a car that was 80% finished when you took it to him is just completely unacceptable. You really need to do one of three things: Go visit them yourself and see if progress has been made; have someone on this board go pay them a visit and check the car out for you; hire an attorney to write them a demand letter and be prepared to follow up on it. (I would only do the last one after you have done one of the first two).

Two custom shops in my area have relatively recently been closed due to fraud and their owners sent to jail. Both were highly regarded shops prior to this happening. One was in the VW community of guys; you can read about it on the Samba board under Robert Kalstrom or Endless customz. The other was a shop preparing pro stock and pro touring cars. I helped get back the 66 Chevelle that was at the pro stock shop. After being told for two years and $50,000.00 that the car was near completion the owner flew over here from Sweden. What we found when we got there was body in primer, no engine and no interior. There were a few miscellaneous parts but nowhere near a complete car. The shop owner disappeared while we were looking for the car. He was later arrested working at another shop 3 hours away. What got him arrested was that he began bragging on another board about what a great job he had done on this particular car. Riverside police arrested him and they prosecuted him for theft and fraud. Last I heard he is still in jail.

Good luck, I think your going to need it.

Ventura Alfa
 

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Vintage Customs

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
 

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Discussion Starter #31 (Edited)
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/BeasvlAH2GZ/?taken-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.
 

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Discussion Starter #32
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...
 

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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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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 !!
 

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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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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.

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.
 

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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.
 
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