Have you set aside sufficient funds to do the work? Having set your objectives, the next step is to estimate the costs for parts, materials and labor to get a ballpark figure to work with. That will be refined when discussing your project with the shops you visit. It goes without saying that the more extensive the job, the more difficult it will be to get an accurate estimate. You'll need to account for the unforeseeable issues your project will undoubtedly run into, as well as additional jobs you decide to do. A phenomenon called "project creep" is an all-too-common experience, especially in major projects. You can pretty much count on at least some level of your project expanding once you get into it. While it's hard to give a specific percentage to add to your baseline budget, it's not uncommon to see the final costs run 30-50 percent higher.
Often overlooked is the support of your spouse in a project. As expenses mount and time goes by, you may receive a few not-so-subtle hints from your family, whose patience and tolerance level may not be the same as yours. Are they prepared to be committed to the project, or more likely to commit you if it goes on too long and costs too much? After reviewing my first draft of this article, Barb suggested I add this though, but didn't elaborate on why...there might be a message there...Following are some things to do and look for when selecting a restoration shop.
Three great sources of information on restoration shops are your local car clubs, car shows and cruise nights as you can see the quality of work for yourself, and obtain the owners' experiences with the shop they've used. Ask them if they were satisfied with the work quality, and did they feel they received good value for the cost? Was the shop's communication timely and well-done, or were they unresponsive? Those folks will likely also have other shops they recommend to help expand your options, as well as some to avoid. Two other sources are the Corvette magazines (especially Corvette Fever), and the many internet forums.
Many shops today will also have their own website with an overview of their facility, their previous projects and an outline of their history, which can be very helpful. Their history should also tell you how long they have been in business, which can be a good indication of how good they are. It goes without saying that you should also look at their Better Business Bureau report.
One question you might ask yourself is whether the size of a shop matters. While it could be argued that this is an important factor in some aspects of life, it could work for or against you when it comes to a restoration shop. The larger shops may be more likely to have the experience, adequate staff, equipment and in-house capability to do most or all of the work necessary. On the other hand, smaller shops might offer a more personal experience, or be more flexible if those are aspects you consider important to your project. While size is only one factor in making your choice, it can be an important consideration.
There are many restoration shops that handle everything from muscle cars to hot rods to regular collision work, so another aspect to determine is if the shop specializes in Corvette restoration. Those that do should be well versed in what is involved with your project, and what will save you time, cost and headaches. The result of your research should provide a list of shops to look into further.
Call the shops on your list to discuss what you have in mind and, if what you hear sounds good to you, arrange for a visit. When visiting a shop, the shop owner should be willing to show you their works in progress and possibly completed projects. They should also be proud of their prior work. Projects which have gone on to achieve Top Flight or Bloomington Gold awards, for example, would be one indication of the work they are capable of performing, even if you are not looking for that level yourself. You'll then be able to narrow the list down to those you wish to pursue further.