A few weeks ago, I made my way down to A Good Shop in Commerce City during a lunch break for a 'surprise visit'. I figured I might as well check on progress and point out any remaining issues prior to the craft's delivery home, which was scheduled a few days later on the following Saturday. The surprise was on me, however, because I found the Nautilus sitting in the shop parking lot. After a quick inspection it was obvious that absolutely nothing had been done for 3 weeks. I went from being cautiously optimistic to instantly pissed. I found a new ding on the passenger hatch and a small scratch across the center rear raised section of the deck lid. It looked like it hadn't seen water in years. I couldn't tell if there was paint overspray--but there really shouldn't have been because the craft's cover was sitting inside...unused, but incredibly available to anyone with sense to use it. I had to take a moment to calm down--but that didn't help because some idiot drove up to check out a piece of crap car the shop has for sale and parked next to the Nautilus and said idiot decided that is was ok to rest the damn door of that car against the Nautilus. I asked the person to please stop doing that, and walked away.
My trek across the parking lot was done slowly, because I really didn't want to bring an attitude with me to the shop foreman, Phil. In this I was only partially successful. My mood soured further as I got a good look at all the populated bays, the paint booth and overflowing side garage. The shop was completely packed. We had a big hail storm roll through Denver back in mid-May and this caused all the body shops in the area to fill up rapidly. Insurance companies want quick turnaround for their customers, so the Nautilus quickly became a 'shop liability', taking up needed space for the other insurance work. Insurance work is the real 'money maker' for body shops. A Good Shop also became a Hagerty Collector Car Insurance preferred body shop over the past month, so more work flowed in from that source, as well. Rather than my car being finished first to get it done and out of the way, the shop made a decision to unfavorably 'prioritize' my car.
I spent a few minutes in the shop waiting room...fuming...and found a magazine Hagerty publishes called appropriately enough 'Hagerty'. For June's issue they featured the Corvair. Waves of envy and irony washed over me as I thumbed the pages. There really are a lot of styling queues between the Corvair and the Type 34. In the article, comparisons were being made between a completely restored metallic green '60 4-door and the actual yellow Corvair Ralph Nader used to make his classic 'Unsafe At Any Speed' observations. Interesting article, but it didn't take the edge off my mood. Once Phil finished up a quote for a commercial customer, he turned his attention to me, 'the prioritized customer'. I asked him to accompany me out to the parking lot so I could show him the newly installed damage and talk about the other work that still needs to be done to finish up the sunroof installation.
Throughout my discussion with Phil, I mentioned the 'first-in-first-out' concept, which went nowhere. I then took another tact--which I felt was a really generous concession on my part: I'll take the car back unfinished, with the new damage, and pay them only half of what I owe. In turn, I give them 90 days to re-schedule the completion of my car. If they don't, I don't pay them any more money. Phil told me he'd take this offer to Al. I was left to develop an understanding for the situation I was now in.
By the following Saturday--and having heard no word from anyone--I arrived at the shop with the intentions of paying for and picking up the Nautilus. I was again ready to move on, but no one was there. I contacted Al by cell phone and he apologized and gave me permission to pick up the car--NO CHARGE--because his policy is that no one pays until the work is fully complete and customer is happy.
Honestly, I was stunned by Al's shop policy. In the face of my disappointment, he still managed to exceeded my expectations. The both of us agreed that we would follow up each week and eventually we'd arrange for the Nautilus to return to the Thornton location to be completely finished. In the meantime, the craft is at home in my garage and I have something nice to test fit parts to...bumpers and carpet, for example. The project really is still on track and moving forward on all fronts. I knew this restoration was going to be a challenge. I just need to keep a cool head and keep looking up! I still think I'm dealing with a good shop, but I hope to be able to call it a great shop before this is over with.