Contract for work being done?

Anyone following my situation knows we have had absolute terrible luck with classic car work at shops on our other classic car (corvette).

Wondering if any of you have drafted up a legal contract.

We are taking the jag to a local shop for interior to be done (OKC).

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If there’s any particular piece of data that shows me we’re in a different era, than when I was in the business, this question is it.

It never, ever occurred to me to think of nor even worry about making a contract with a shop to do their job because it was just assumed --And mostly correctly-- that that’s what they did. It was their job. It was my job.

I think that if you made an insistence on that with a shop, and had them agree to what they would and wouldn’t do (in Colorado, there are some state laws that actually address this) they may or may not do any work for you.

Given your awful experiences, both with the Corvette and the Jaguar, I think it would be worthwhile to at least sit down, and have a D&M with them, about expectations, about timelines, and about work expected.

I have made it brutally clear work will be done in increments. Paid weekly/monthly only as work completed, no pay up front.

Unlike having the car states away, we will be by to check progress frequently.


I think that is entirely appropriate, and certainly fair.


Nicole- I’m so sorry (but not surprised) to hear of your difficulties with car repair/restoration shops. I can’t be of help with your contracts question, but I do have some insight to the issue. For a very long time car repair shops and their mechanics/workers have been paid “Book rate” for work performed. This is IMO 100% the reason for shoddy and incomplete work. If the book rate for a job is 8 hours, and the mechanic can slip-shod it in 4 hours, they still get paid for 8 hours of work. The system itself encourages incomplete and totally crap work, and is the reason I do pretty much ALL of the work on my cars other than recall/warranty work (which they still screw up). Knowing this you may have some leverage in your negotiations with the shop, and as Wigs said take LOTS of photos and post them here for review and comment. Good luck!


We would prefer to have used OSJI, but getting the car that distance was not something we wanted to endure again after our OKC to NC fiasco with the 68 vette.

We will be VERY involved with this process and will pull the car immediately if things are not going as expected.

Sadly, the lack of quality service is not limited to just the automotive industry, we have experienced this with every line of service, my profession (medical) included.

It’s as if taking pride in the quality of service provided is a thing of the past. The stories are endless and its truly sad.

Being 52 (fairly young IMO) but I remember things being so much different growing up.

I would think with social media, there would be an incentive to provide top quality work as news of poor service spreads fast… but I guess that thought is wrong.


There are two sides to the “Book” rate for jobs. Having worked as a line mechanic for years, there are some who struggle to get 40 hours by the end of the week. Then there are others who can turn 80-100 hours in a week without any come backs. The difference is experience and the proper tools. It takes a lot of money/investment to have the tools to do the job right and easily. I am probably in excess of $200,000 in tools over the years. Learning shop manuals and knowing what the job entails before doing it help. When you take your car in for a standard job, do you want the trainee who has to spend a half hour reading the book, borrowing tools and then learning on your car to be paid however long it takes… Or would you rather have the seasoned mechanic that can do the job properly in less time than book rate and get it right? Restoration shops usually charge by the hour as the jobs are non standard. Something like R&R a Jaguar engine is straight forward enough that the time can be quoted up front. I also realize the importance of having a quote in writing. On the other side of the coin, sometimes the paperwork is worthless if the shop will not stand behind the work. The job is only as good as the person/shop standing behind it. Rant over…


Agreed… with a slight caveat…

The mechanic does not get paid eight hours: at best, they get paid four hours. My time at Central Datsun proved that to me, and also further strengthened my absolute abhorrence of “book rates.”

Mechanics also get paid a percentage of everything they sell: ergo, that’s why line mechanics are pushed to sell everything they possibly can on a job.

I always, and I mean always, irrespective of what marque I was working on, charged for the time it took me to do a job.

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This slide into sloth begin sometime ago – – when you were a mere child! – – and is part of the reason I got the hell out of the business. To my mind, and with very few exceptions, it’s gotten nothing but worse.

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I reported my own experience with book rates several years ago.

My wife noticed a small puddle of something under my GMC 3/4 ton 4x4. Turns out to be ATF. I was in the middle of renovating her kitchen so call the dealership service department and make an appointment then drop off the truck around 10:00. They call just before their noon lunch break to say all three transmission cooler lines are leaking at their flares and need replacing. They quote $1300 or so and say they can have the job done and the truck washed before close of business at 17:00. Sounds steep so I ask for the labour/parts breakdown. It’s mostly labour - how many hours? They say 8.1. I say, so you’re going to get the job done in four hours but you’re going to charge me for 8.1? Hesitation. They say yes, that’s what The Book says so that’s what they have to charge. GM policy. I decline and have my wife drive me back to the dealership to retrieve the truck. The dealership charged a half hour, $55 for the diagnostic. The paperwork indicates they’ve costed out replacing the three lines as three separate jobs.

I considered doing the job myself but had other priorities so I called the local corner garage. He’s done the job before. Quotes me half what the dealership did so his shop is the next stop. When I picked up the truck a few hours later and told him what the local dealership service department quoted he explained “Book rate” to me, relevant to this particular job. To change out one line requires the removal of a mud shield for access then excising the leaking line (allowing for some extra effort if it’s not a straightforward removal), installing the new line, testing for leaks then replacing the mud shield. Times three. No synergies. He also said the mechanic gets paid his hourly rate according to the hours the service department charges - he’d get say $40/hour out of the $110 shop rate - and if he’s really good at what he does and has a good week he’ll get paid out 50-60+ hours for 40 hours work. It’s sort of like an incentive bonus.



Honesty, communication and pride in your workmanship are the missing link it seems.

As I always tell my patients. Medicine is not an exact science. As we travel down this road of your treatment, there are many things that can change or be missed. Communication is key, on the part of the patient as well as the provider.

I suspect automotive work is not all that different.

BIGGEST thing is when WE screw up in medicine, patients can die.


It absolutely is: since I was the rookie line mechanic at the Datsun dealership, it fell to me to do the thousand mile services on B210 Datsuns.

The job had a book rate of four hours, but I got to the point where I could do the whole entire thing in just a little over one real hour. I would do five of them a day, and rake it in, because of book rate. I actually hated it.


It isn’t. Much like in the auto industry where an adjuster can override the body shop recommendations the health insurers can override the doctors recommendations.
One of the techs in my department was told by his doctor to have a specific kind of stress test. The health insurance folks said no and told him what kind he was getting ( unless he wanted to pay out of his own pocket). I also understand it depends of what kind of contract your company enters with the provider but it just appears that the $$$ are the priority over health…
Rant over ……

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100% and it absolutely ENRAGES ME!

Many providers have left medicine because of this BS.

55% of the time (OR MORE) I spend at my job is crossing T’s and dotting I’s to appease insurance companies. This is time we USED to spend actually “providing care”.

The times I have ordered a treatment or diagnostic study for a patient only to be refused by insurance is insane. The crazy part is, the BS hoops they make you jump through to get something “covered”, in the end costs them more.

Sadly, many of my patients in lung cancer detection do not have the time to jump through hoops, nor pay the insane costs for treatment out of pocket. I think we all know what what means. It’s disgusting to say the least!

My rant over… LOL

Candice, I understand your fear of shipping the Jag off for upholstery, but K&H in So. Cal is excellent.
Everything is done in house. They only buy material. They do make kits, but install is AAA.


As for the Vette, I have been in that circle for 50 years. The Best guys are specialists.
Rear end guy is in Conn.
Carb guru is in Colo.
Body work in Bellflower.
Upholstery in Texas.
PM me for any needs, and I can help with suggestions.


Probably the most important part of any job, be it automotive repair, painting, plumbing, you name it.

A lesson I learned long ago: Cheapest isn’t always the cheapest. But on the other hand the old saying “You get what you pay for” isn’t always true either. Sometimes (often?) you get less than you pay for.


I recently had a Split window Vette come in for some final tweaking. Really nice car and the owner wanted to get the final details done. He had just spent $30,000 at a Corvette specialist shop. Car was not running right was the main issue. Turns out two of the plug wires were switched so they had moved the timing to 30 BTDC to try and compensate. How hard is it to put the plug wires in the cap in the right order, especially on a Chevy V8? It’s not just Jaguars out there that are suffering from poor work.


I agree, it annoys me when people think that paying more guarantees a better product. My father more accurately said, “You rarely get more than you pay for”.

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Wait…are you suuuure?


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