Afternoon everyone… thought I’d do a quick post to update you on my quest to find an interior shop here in Phoenix to handle the Chevelle. I’ve now met with three shops (no names will be used since I haven’t decided yet)… one (Shop #2) was rejected fairly quickly because they essentially said “no” to just about everything I asked. Not a great way to start with a prospective new client, wouldn’t you say?
Of the two other shops, I am presented with a challenge… namely, what value do I assign to quality craftsmanship and quality materials?
Both shops could do the work from a technical know-how perspective, but Shop #1 gave me a ball-park estimate of $4,000 to $5,000 for my interior. Shop #3 gave me an estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. Keep in mind this is pretty much all-inclusive… leather seat recovers, custom center console (leather wrapped), new customer headliner, new carpet, door panels, etc. Right now the Chevelle has virtually NO interior so these prices include everything.
Now, at first glance those prices seem wildly out of whack. That’s what I first thought, too. Then I started asking questions. Shop #3 only uses leather hides that conform to the standards once set by Connolly, the UK leather producer that supplied the likes of Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ferrari and Aston Martin (Connolly stopped producing leather back in 2002 but their standards were maintained). Click here to learn more. This essentially means the coloring process goes all the way through the leather material, unlike cheaper hides where the color is a dye that is applied only to the surface of the hide (and thus wears out quicker), and Connolly standard hides are simply higher quality from the onset.
Shop #3 also has more experience with custom interiors, like what I have envisioned for the Chevelle. That is not to say Shop #1 can’t do the work… I’ve personally seen examples of prior projects and they are top-notch as well, but Shop #3 has more years of experience doing custom work. For example, I am looking to use 2004-2006 Pontiac GTO front bucket seats in the Chevelle. That’s no problem for either company, but Shop #3 said the first thing he would do is replace the weak factory seat foam with new material since the factory stuff simply doesn’t last that long. Shop #1 didn’t say anything about replacing the foam with new (not to mention custom) stuff. These component costs start to fill in the gap between Shop #1’s estimate and Shop #3’s.
If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time you know that I am looking for true partners to help me complete this car. Tony (Full Circle), John (M&M) and Sean (Top Gear) are exactly what I am looking for from an interior vendor. Shop #3 impressed me with not only with the questions they asked, but the ideas they had on how to solve some of the tricky ideas I have, such as the stereo / navigation install I’m envisioning. So… how do I value quality workmanship and quality material? Is it worth it (to me) to pay an additional $10,000? Perhaps. I’ve waited more than 25 years for this project…. as Dina said to me this afternoon, “Why take the compromise route now”? Sounds good, but an additional $10k? Gulp.
So… the car is getting ready to head down to Mesa next Friday (3/22) so Sean can start the engine and transmission install. I have approximately two months to contemplate my issue about the interior. I have other companies to visit so perhaps I”ll find a clear-cut winner there. My gut is telling me that I’m going to come down to “Shop #1”, which is quoting a cheaper price tag but is probably using an inferior leather product, or Shop #3, which has the higher price tag, but they bring the better material and the know-how to do it right the first time… and most importantly… craft an interior that will last my lifetime and then some.
I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts…. any feelings one way or the other? If so, leave a reply below. Thanks!!