Horse of a Different Color


This story is a sort of part 2 to the last post. A, shall we say, escalation of the
nightmare. This story involves a 1961 Cadillac, which was minding it’s own business
when a couple of my customers spotted it in the driveway of a home they went to a
yard sale at. These 2 brothers thought they were very crafty when they offered the
woman a pittance to haul it away for her so they could rebuild it and sell it.
At the time these guys hadn’t met us yet and they searched online for someone who
worked on classic cars. The brought it to a shop and were given an estimate and
a request for $5,000 to start the job. In the 20+ years I’ve been in this business I have
never, ever asked anyone for that amount of money to start a job but it did need body
work as well as mechanical work so I might be inclined to give them the benefit of
the doubt. That is until they called 2 weeks later and asked for another $5,000.
Each time my customers went to the shop to hand over another check they could barely
see any progress but they figured the owner knew what he was doing.

This same process went on 2 more times in which these guys handed over $18,000.
Finally the call came that the vehicle was finished and they owed a final payment of
$7,000K. I’m assuming you the reader are as flabbergasted as I was on hearing this story.
I had a millions questions – “did you just keep handing it over?” ,“did they show you
where the money was being spent?”, “did you argue over the prices at all?”. They
really didn’t have a good answer, they just kept looking at each other and hanging their

Upon arrival that final day, they see the finished product. The body work was partially
done, the engine and transmission rebuilt, a job that we could have easily done
for $10,000. They weren’t thrilled with handing over another $7,000 and got into an
argument. Ultimately they did though, in the form of a check which the shop owner did
not want to accept, because they were just over it and wanted it to be done. They drove
out, went a few blocks and the car broke down. They were beyond annoyed at this point
and instead of going back to the shop they drove to an outdoor parking garage in another
part of town and left it there. They stopped payment on the check and pondered their next
move. About a week later they want back to the parking garage and the car was gone.
When they questioned the lot personnel they were informed that “the tow truck came
to take it back to the shop”. They were stupefied, this is New York City, how could the
shop have known where they parked it. To this day they still don’t have an answer for
that question but the shop came and took it because they had cancelled the last check.
In the end the shop owner got the car running and they negotiated a smaller cash

Ultimately the car still never ran very well and it didn’t that great either. They used it
a little to try to get some bang for their buck but basically they wasted a huge amount
of money. Of course I had to berate then a little and they admitted they broke all my rules
for finding the right mechanic, staying on top of the situation and not using their instincts
and they are very embarrassed by it.

They brought the car o us recently to see if we knew anyone who might want to buy it.
I had them post it online and I called around to see if anyone wanted it.
In the end they did finally sell it…….for $6,000.
Even I couldn’t pick on them after that.



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