Just an update on the car paint wow it's been just about a year since I got the car back from paint in Tijuana. I'm very happy with the results still. Is it perfect? No, but to get a better paint job probably would have cost 4 times as much. My only REAL complaint is the headliner and they have agreed to redo that. It's just coming undone in one corner.
Here are some pics of the car I just snapped. Nothing special.
In honor of Gene Wilder and one of my favorite movies, Blazing Saddles" the badges quote comes to mind. Well I have gotten a number of badges in. The front and rear roundel BMW badges have arrived and look great! Also the BBS center caps have arrived from Germany! These are the ultra rare blue center caps that are only sold with the forged 1 piece race wheels. They are not sold separately. So I scored a set and they look great on the charcoal grey BBS centers! A few random pics of the car and a few pics of the BBS wheel with Blue caps.
So the car had some dust on it and I decided to clean her up a bit. So I used some Meguires Qwick Detailing Mist and a sift cloth to wipe the dust off and restore the shine. I also removed the license plate and thoroughly cleaned it and the "2002" emblem. So the rear end of the car is nice and clean! I also cleaned the wheels up a bit and wiped the tires down. All in all a mini detail but restored the car to its full shine. I figure a little upkeep will make it easy to maintain its shine! I have to admit, the attention I am now getting is pretty crazy. It seems no matter where I go I am stopped, get multiple thumbs ups, waves and cheers. I expected to be noticed but it's truly amazing the amount of attention I'm getting. I guess it's a good problem to have. On another note, the BMW roundels are arriving tomorrow as well as the door seals. This will leave only the rear sunroof seal that I'm waiting for. Everyday things get more and more complete!
The car has been back a few days and now is the time to put the car back together. I have put on the bumpers, front and rear, the driving lights, the interior door panels and the speakers. I have wired the driving lights as well as the stereo. Her are a few pics of the progress...
The car is finished! Here is a list of the work done by Los Panchos in Tijuana.
Strip the old paint off
Remove all windows, grills, trim and lights
Fill in holes in the front left from the Euro bumper conversion
Repair dent in driver side front fender
Repair rust on Drivers rear wheel well
Fill holes in A pillar from antenna
Fill holes from side reflectors front and rear
Fill holes in rear from Euro bumper conversion
Remove doors and repair rust on both doors
Remove hood and repair hood support and rust on hood
Repair rust behind passenger side fender
Block sand and straighten every panel
Install new black vinyl perforated headliner
Respray in Fjord Blue
Paint exposed areas of the engine bay
Paint IE Motorsports Zender style air dam
Reinstall doors and hood and align
Color sand and polish
Replace All window seals with new seals
Reinstall grills, trim and lights
The price of all this work was $2,000.
I was quoted 30 days for the work. It took 54. This isn't all their fault. They fixed a lot more things than I asked. They saw things and fixed them. I also pushed it back about a week because they wanted me to see it and approve the bodywork as well as drop off the air dam to be painted. I think the key to getting quality work is to be VERY honest with what you want. Expect to pay a little more than quoted. I was very specific in what I wanted done to the car. I used the word perfect repeatedly. I showed him the wavy 40 year old panels and told him I wanted them straight. He said it would take an extra week of block sanding and I agreed to pay for the extra work. Quotes I got for half of this work were between 4k-8k in the US. So 2-4 times the cost. This will be worth it IF the quality of the work is good.
Why Los Panchos?
I did lots of research and found a few places in California that would do it for 2-3k. They were cutting lots of corners and said it would be a decent paint job. Lots of people said that labor is labor and I would spend the majority of my budget on labor to straighten the panels. Once all was straight and the prep was done then the paint would be easy to do so look for the place that would do the most amount of prep work. With labor rates in the US for bodywork being $75-$100 per hour you can easily see a weeks worth of prep work can easily cost $4k alone! In my searches on the Internet for "best places for a cheap paint job" one thing kept coming up. Mexico. It made perfect sense. They have been doing body and paintwork for decades so they are skilled and the labor rate is MUCH cheaper than here in the US. But is it safe? Who has done it? More google searches pointed to a number of forums and some of them were air. Oiled Porsche forums. Seems like a lot of these guys got paint jobs from one particular place, Los Panchos. I contacted a few of them and asked about how satisfied they were and if they would go back everyone said they would go back and some already have gone back. That was promising information. I didn't get ONE negative review of Los Panchos. Wow. I decided to visit a few shops in Tijuana and get estimates. I could look around and see what kind of cars they had in the shop as well as inspect the quality of their work. Los Panchos had a number of law model European cars in for various repairs and all with California plates on them. I would say that 95% of their business is from the US and they have been there for 40 years. Again all good signs. After a few trips and speaking to Ramiro in the phone a number of times I was confident that the car would be safe there and they would do a good job.
We agreed on $1750 to do all the paint and bodywork as well as replace the headliner. He said he would send pictures of the process. I dropped the car off without bumpers and door panels and without the side reflectors or antenna. I knew they would be removing the doors for the rust repair and I wanted to make that easier plus less things there mean less can get damaged. I removed the speakers and door panels. I also wanted to holes from the antenna in the A pillar filled so I remived it and I wanted the reflector holes filled because I wanted to remove the side reflectors. The bumpers were removed as well so I could clean and polish them while the car was gone. It took a few weeks to get pictures and I was very anxious about the car. I spoke to Ramiro every few days and he would update me. He sent me pics a few times and I went and looked at the car a few times. The prep work and the body repair work they did was great. I also stressed how I wanted to the lines of the car to be perfect. They did their best to give me those perfect lines! I was quoted 4 weeks. It ended up being 7. I'd rather wait a little longer and get great work than rush it. It also meant that there was more work to do then they initially thought. I was confident that it wasn't just sitting there and they wanted to get it finished to get paid!
The bodywork is amazing. When I show people the pictures the first thing they comment on is how straight the panels are. All the lines and curves are in place and the wavy 40 year old panels with door dings and inferior bodywork now look like new panels. The rust repair was top notch. Welding in new metal and not just filling it with fiberglass or bondo. Im extremely pleased with the bodywork and prep work.
Wow is what I said when I first saw it back together, color sanded and sitting there. Stunning. That's another word. Breathtaking. The results are beyond my expectations. I thought they would be good. Better than average but this looks like a new car. This looks like a $10k paint job. Easily. The color is spot on. I was worried about the color at first. They did a great job on that. I saw the car before final sanding and polishing. There was just the right amount of metallic in the paint. Sometimes people go overboard and it looks like fingernail polish. Nope they got it just right! There were a few runs in it and some orange peel but Ramiro assured me that those would all be fixed when then polished and wet sanded the car before I picked it up. He was correct. The finish is smooth...the shine is brilliant and the depth is amazing. In the daytime it just beams. I used to get thumbs ups and smiles before, but now its just stared at and I can see people mouth "Wow".
Its not all perfect. The bad in all this is as follows.
They filled in a few too many holes...I'll have to redrill a few holes to mount the bumpers. Not a big deal.
Glue everywhere. I had to use goo gone on the seats, dash, windows, shift knob. It all came off but it was still a bit of work.
Overspray. Yup there is some overspray. On the interior panels and especially on the trunk lock.
Headliner. In one corner of the sunroof its ripped. maybe it can be stitched, maybe it'll have to be redone.
Sunroof handle alignment. This one was an easy fix, unscrew it and put it back on in the correct orientation.
2 Scratches on the rear quarter that will probably polish out.
Not smooth in a few places (A pillars), when it was wet sanded it wasn't done as well in a few spots, still shiny there but not as smooth as the rest of the car.
Thats about it. for the bad. Nothing horrible at all, but like I said, not perfect but for $2,000 I expect to do some work.
I'm happier than a pig in slop! Happier than a fat kid eating cake! The car looks amazing. 2 months for a proper paint job with the doors, hood , trunk and windows removed as well as a few weeks worth of bodywork and rust repair is not bad. The price ended up right at $2,000. I probably could have haggled, but to me it was a fair price, a VERY fair price. Would I do it again? Absolutely! I loved the adventure. The fact that I traveled a number of times to another country was fun. Would I recommend it for someone else? Well thats another question. You have to be comfortable leaving your car in another country. Comfortable communicating wit someone where English is NOT their first language. Comfortable walking around Mexico with lots of cash when you pick ups the car. I was diligent. I contacted them a few times a week, asked for pictures to be sent and visited the car a few times to monitor the progress. In my opinion the car came out so good because I was so persistent. Do I think that dropping the car off and waiting for a phone call would be good? Probably not. I also spent an additional $700 in seals so that when the car was put back together new rubber seals would be used. The seals on the car were probably 40 years old and had been through at least 2 bad resprays. While the car was gone I also polished the trim and chrome so they would look better when put back on the car.
The car went into the paint booth Friday on day 47!!! I took a trip down to look at the progress. Things are getting close! Headliner installation has begun and is almost finished! The car will dry and cure, then get we sanded and polished then reassembled. We are probably looking at a week away from being ready for pickup. Here are some pics of the car right now.
Latest update from Ramiro at Los Panchos. The hood is off for the repair to the hood supports. Here are some pics. Looks like the rest of the block sanding has been done. Not much more to do except paint it, wetsand it and polish. Then do the headliner. They are estimating it should be ready for pickup next week. Crossing my fingers!
Day 40. Wow...its been a LONG time since I have driven my baby! We are down to about a week to go. According to Ramiro the car will be sprayed today or tomorrow and then polished next week. It will get the headliner done next week as well. Then its reassembly and I pick it up! In the meantime, I have prepared the turn signals so they are ready when the car is returned. I did more trimming and fine tuning on the one side I was working on while also doing the other side. Here are the results! I like the smoked better and I'll use a yellow bulb or maybe even yellow LEDs. I gave the chrome a good clean with steel wool and diet coke. They came out great! Nice and shiny. Here is a quick video I did on how to make these. If anyone knows of where I can get different acrylic lenses let me know. I got the amber and smoked gray from a plastic company on eBay.
So after a pretty long journey to the border with lits of Saturday traffic I got to Los Panchos and saw the car. Well the bodywork is indeed nearly done. One door is repaired and back on the car and the other door is 90% done. The car is straight as an arrow and all the body’s rust spots have been repaired. All the holes from the big bumpers are filled as well as the holes from the side reflectors and A pillar antenna that was removed. The odd rust spot and bent metal in the edge of the hood is fixed and they are still going to reinforce the hood supports as they are separating from the hood in a few places. I dropped off the Irrland front air dam to be painted with the car and they said the car should be in paint by next Saturday and then a week for polishing and headliner installation and putting things back together. So we are looking at 2 more weeks. The countdown continues!
Door rust repaired
Blocked and Sanded! Straight as an arrow!
Holes from side reflectors and big bumpers filled in.
Blocked and Sanded
Blocked and sanded.
Holes from reflectors filled in and the body straightened by block sanding.
Holes filled in from big bumper, ready from primer.