Auto Restoration-The Cost of Doing Things/Materials « Britsport of Seattle


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Auto Restoration-The Cost of Doing Things/Materials

I recently conducted a tech session for the local Seattle area Triumph club explaining the processes of performing a full, bare metal respray of a collector car. I closed the tech session with a comparison of the cost of paint materials consumed in the refinishing of three separate project cars.

First, was a Triumph TR3A, the victim of a minor traffic mishap. The front shroud and left front fender was reshaped by another local shop run by a friend of mine. Britsport was hired to flat and surface work/prime the repair areas, then blend the color and clearcoat the entire car. Total cost of all paint materials including primers/basecoat/clearcoat was $615 to the customer.

Second, was the Austin Healey 3000 depicted in “Current Projects” (note Dec. 2010 project now filed under “Past Projects”). It was a full body strip of all coatings, and after the required metal work, full build up and flatting of the body, then the application of a PPG base/clear system with a seal coat under the base. The total cost of all paint materials consumed for the project including etch primers, high build primer surfacer, as well as the final application of the base/clear, was $1917 to the customer.

Third, is the 1954 Aston Martin DB2-4 drop head. After several hundred hours of alloy work, the substrate was conversion coated, etch primed, then several sessions of high build primer applications utilized during the flatting process. The entire carbody was then sealed, then topcoated with clearcoated 22-Line Glasurit Ivory paint. Every surface, inside and out, was painted to a very high standard befitting an Aston of this stature. Total cost of all paint materials to date of this post is $4057 to the customer, and the detail paintwork of small components in body color is not yet completed.

The ever increasing cost of paint materials is staggering, due largely to continually changing VOC (volatile organic compounds) levels and environmental laws. There is rarely a delivery of paint supplies to my shop that does not reflect an increase of costs. The cost of a pint (the least amount you can buy) of normal paint to perform a spray-out for customer approval of color is between $75 and $100. An amazing fact considering the cost of top coats of the first vehicle I performed a complete respray on in 1979, a 1948 Chevrolet 5 window pick-up, was $32.00, purchased at the local Napa store in Glendive, Montana. This truck, incidently, was purchased for $75 from a farmers field and three long years was spent in the restoration process trying to create ” chicken soup from chicken feathers”. Not a fiscally responsible endeavor perhaps, but a very steep learning curve. The truck turned out fine, and I drove it for years.

3 Responses to “Auto Restoration-The Cost of Doing Things/Materials”

  1. David Marshall says:

    Hi, I live in San Jose, CA and have a 1970 TR6 that I’ve been mulling over having stripped and painted, with the associated body work. I know it has 2-3 minor rust spots (base of right door skin, right rear quarterpanel by taillight, right door sill, etc) but is probably in about the same condition or better than the AH 3000 you have in current projects. Was the $1917 to the customer just materials, or all-inclusive? I’m not looking for a quote by any means, just trying to understand the scope of the work you did against the price to your customer so that I can begin to get a feel for how large a sum I might be looking at. The work looked great, by the way.


  2. markjones says:

    The $1917 materials quote in the post you referred to was exactly that, material cost only. That amount was the total cost of all paint materials and shop supplies consumed in the restoration of the Austin Healey, including etching primer, primer surfacer, basecoat, and final clearcoat. Shop supplies included welding gas, abrasives, masking plastic, tape, solvents, etc..etc. The labor cost associated with the project was not included in that figure, nor were any required parts and sublet costs. From the condition of your TR6 that you described, I would plan on a minimum of 80-100 hours to perform the required work to a high standard, and that total could easily reach 150-200 hours if additional damage/prior poorly executed work is discovered. There is no quick, inexpensive way to achieve professional results, and the only way to perform those tasks as a professional car restorer, is by time and materials. If you are quoted a firm dollar amount to perform the body restoration on your TR6, you will probably be disappointed as the shop will probably reach that quote very quickly, then realize there is a multitude of costs previously unconsidered, or turn out quick, substandard work to fall into that price range of total labor.

  3. David Marshall says:

    Thanks, that’s exactly the level of detail needed to give me an idea on what I need to start planning for. Growing up working on jobs with my artisan plasterer father, I totally agree with and understand your statements regarding fixed quote vs. time and materials.

    Thanks again for the response.


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