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Technical Cost of new interior

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by treeman53, Jun 7, 2022.

  1. If you are 40 years old, it may not sound as bad. At 80, it sounds unbelievable. In the '60's I would do a whole car for $350. But gas was 30 cents a gallon too.
     
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  2. treeman53
    Joined: Sep 9, 2021
    Posts: 37

    treeman53
    Member

    Why is my car an "off topic car"?
     
  3. 40FORDPU
    Joined: Mar 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,372

    40FORDPU
    Member
    from Yelm, Wa
    1. Northwest HAMBers

    I'm pretty sure @JimSibley didn't mean your car, but anyones OT late model taken to a dealership for repairs.
    If I'm mistaken I'm sure he will correct me.
    Your car is not "off topic" as far as we know (little info about your car provided).
     
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  4. Not to insult anyone work or car ( I did my upholstery and it is far from perfect) but it is very easy to see why an upholstery job is $4000 or $5000 compared to $15000 in about 98% of the cases when guys post pictures. Lines are not perfectly straight, there are small puckers in the material on corners, covers are not skin tight, the seams on edges don't run perfectly straight along the edge, there are seams sewn over other seams on french seams, super simple designs, top stitched pleats etc. Now many people are ok with that but it doesn't make the work that is to a much higher standard over priced or really in any way comparable.
     
  5. dmar836
    Joined: Oct 23, 2018
    Posts: 193

    dmar836
    Member

    Labor-wise you often might as well start fresh. I have also replaced just the inserts in some bucket seats. What a pain! And due to the perceived few "new parts" you can't charge for the surrounding, unseen labor. Trust me, it is almost as much of a job to replace just part of a seat as to build new. It all has to be removed, sections carefully picked of stitches, patterns made, and then after the new panels are made, the whole thing has to be resewn in an inside out order of operations due to the rest of the seat cover remaining intact. Then reinstalled without damage. Very often additional padding must be added to make it sit right("new wine in old skins"). Now what if it was a twin than no longer matches in padding? Customer unhappy. These jobs are the worst IMO for someone doing custom work.
    $500 is not an outrageous price IMO. Such jobs are often not desirable so maybe that could have some "Please go elsewhere" added in. I have been asked to fix torn side bolster covers in some vehicles. Looks like a simple job. I just say, "Take it to a pro." Of those, I haven't seen one repaired yet. Most won't even go online to see if a pre-sewn replacement cover is available.
    e.g., How much would you charge replace my rear main seal? I'll even bring the $13 seal.
     
  6. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 31,263

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Location is going to be a part of it as prevailing wages still differ a lot.
    Rent or mortgage on the bulding.
    utilities cost
    local taxes

    That guy in the new building in the high profile high traffic area has to charge more than the guy with the shop that is on a side street that had been in his family for generations no matter what you do service wise. The before you start on any job expenses are higher.
    The labor rate for skilled labor is higher in those areas.

    You get down in HRP's hood and the guy with the shop in a little town or out beside his house that he has had paid for for a few years can charge less but same up with the same net profit in his pocket and maybe more actual net income when all is said and done for the same amount and same quality of work.
    30 years ago a friend of mine moved from a high rent high profile shop on Auto Row to a house he bought with a big shop behind it and his expenses dropped about 3 K a month. He didn't even have a sign on his shop behind the house, you just found him. It didn't cut down on his business at all but it did cut down on the lookie loos who stopped because they saw a hot rod or custom car out front.
     
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  7. As several have mentioned, in many cases it is a dying industry. I did a little checking locally and we have had 3 shops close in recent years. that is about half of what we had previously. I omitted the shops that also do furniture, in my experience you can do one or the other well but not both
     
  8. There are two types of people in this world: those that want to make a comfortable living by using their skills, and those that want to live "The Lifestyle Of The Rich And Famous" by sucking their customers dry! Unfortunately, there are so many of the latter that jump on the bandwagon that reality and sensibility go out the window. And in a lot of cases, the high-enders are NOT compensating their workers fairly for the reputation those same workers are building for them. I guess I'm old and remember a different time, but I just don't understand the greed and self-value that some people have!
     
  9. dmar836
    Joined: Oct 23, 2018
    Posts: 193

    dmar836
    Member

    And there it is! That took longer than usual. Where is that line between "comfortable living" and "rich lifestyle?" Who makes that call? And, finally,how many upholsterers are living it up? I can't think of one I've met. That's a pretty loaded politicized viewpoint.
    Shop rate isn't what one gets to pocket. Once you have done custom work you know what it's like to pay for rent, equipment, and other overhead, possibly employees(a whole different level), pay your own business insurance, family insurance, and retirement. Look at those saying it cost them thousands just for the raw materials. There somehow just isn't much left over for "The Lifestyle Of The Rich And Famous".
    Wish I knew your math to see how to make that work. I'm older too but I've learned from that. I retired early and have seriously considered this as a second career but cannot make the numbers work - even with these prices quoted. I suppose if it was as easy and lucrative as you say we would have more rather than fewer custom upholsterers. And Economics 101 hint: That would drive prices lower.
    I'm not mad at anyone but please see Jim Sibley's post on the last page. Why comments with real experience and numbers get blown off in lieu of blaming escapes me.
    I wonder how many of us feel we are overpaid in our chosen profession?
     
  10. I am going to preempt this post by saying upholsters and body men are very talented and have a skill that many of us (myself included) do not. I am simply pointing out the view taken toward the cost of necessities of a build vs the cost of cosmetic.


    What you say about labor and material cost are true however there are many other areas of the specialty automotive building profession that can't get away with charging what upholsters or body men charge.


    For example these are the rear spring mounts I built for my vintage stock car.

    I have roughly 20 hours total in the two of them at $75.00 an hour that's $1,500 plus six feet of 1/4" x 3" steel flat stock, so about $50.00 in materials.


    Now if I quoted someone $1,550 to build spring mounts, they would say I say out of my mind, but yet a body man or an upholster asks huge money people whip out the $100.00 bills.

    upload_2022-6-8_12-27-22.png upload_2022-6-8_12-27-37.png upload_2022-6-8_12-27-54.png upload_2022-6-8_12-28-11.png
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2022
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  11. monc440
    Joined: Feb 1, 2011
    Posts: 264

    monc440
    Member

    I just got a price range from a local guy for $3000 to $3500 for my 70 Sport Fury. Two bucket seats, rear bench and 4 door panels. I will spend another $600 on the carpet and hood liner. I think if you are quoted more than 5K find another shop.
     
  12. dmar836
    Joined: Oct 23, 2018
    Posts: 193

    dmar836
    Member

    Robert,
    Clearly you are leaving your greed out of the equation. Add that in and you can actually get what you have into it.
    I wish the answer was as easy as some make it.
     
  13. HotRod33
    Joined: Oct 5, 2008
    Posts: 2,540

    HotRod33
    Member

    When I read threads that talk about the cost of building a hotrod it amazes me how many people complain about the cost.... Everything cost more today...... But when they go to sell a car they aren't afraid to ask top price or more...
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2022
  14. 55blacktie
    Joined: Aug 21, 2020
    Posts: 759

    55blacktie

    Ask yourself if a $15,000 job will increase the value of your car by $15,000. Then ask yourself if a $5,000 job will increase the value of your car by $5,000. If you have a rare, high-dollar car, the $15,000 job might increase its value by $15,000 (or more). Someone who has been invited to bring his car to Pebble Beach wouldn't even blink at $15,000. If, however, he had a $5,000 job done, it's doubtful the owner would bring home a trophy.

    On the other hand, if you don't intend to show your car, or will just attend local shows, you might be happy with the $5,000 job. I think I would rather spend less on upholstery and use the difference for a better paint job.
     
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  15. treeman53
    Joined: Sep 9, 2021
    Posts: 37

    treeman53
    Member

    My car isn't worth much more than 15k, if that. That's why I was looking for an inexpensive interior...
     
  16. 41rodderz
    Joined: Sep 27, 2010
    Posts: 6,435

    41rodderz
    Member
    from Oregon

    What does a Tijuana , interior job cost now ? Asking for a friend .:p I have read stories about the good old days of hot rodding and going down to south of the boarder and getting interiors done , so it would be interesting to know prices of today.
     
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  17. 55blacktie
    Joined: Aug 21, 2020
    Posts: 759

    55blacktie

    Treeman, if there are any car clubs in your area, talk to some of the members. Someone should be able to recommend an affordable upholsterer.

    Although there are always exceptions, I have found that most local car guys are hobbyists who do much of the work themselves, or get help from another club member who has more experience. The results might not be Roadster-show quality, but good enough for those of us who actually drive our cars.

    Unless you live near our southern border, and you know your way around when you cross over, I wouldn't recommend taking your car to a stranger on the other side, or to any stranger, regardless of which side of the border you find them, unless you've seen their work, and you know where to find them if there's a problem.
     
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  18. Nothing political about it....I'm just pointing out lower human nature.
    Running the numbers is an individual thing (also depends on locale), but if you want to buy a new house and car for wifey (who can afford to be stay-at-home mommy), put your kids through college, and take extended vacations, you have to face the fact you're not looking for a wage-earner job.... you're looking to profit (heavily) from work you do for other people.
    I respect the talents of the trades (and tradespeople) but I also know of many people who got into business for themselves with the sole purpose of making big money! Nothing wrong with that if you can find "the sucker born every minute", but face it.. $15K for the job at $150 per hour shop rate (and let's say that 1/3 of that goes into the guys pocket) = 100 hours for the job (which seems high to me, but I'm not an upholsterer). If you use the standard 2,080 hours per work year, that's $312K billed per year, or $104K per year in the pocket. Can't live on $104K? Better check your lifestyle Can't cover your overhead on the remaining $208K?? Better check your business model.
    JMHO, YOMV
     
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  19. That's just it does a $15,000 interior or $40,000 in body/paint work increase the value of a car at all?

    A friend of mine is an automotive machinist, he has told me several times about people who have dropped off engines for machine work and rebuilding.

    Part way in they call him and tell him they don't have the money for a complete correct rebuild, and need to skip some or all the machine work because they spent all their money on body paint and interior.

    To me a car that doesn't have a fresh rebuilt running gear and can't be trusted to be driven without a fear of breakdown is worthless, no matter how good the body paint or interior work is.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2022
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  20. twenty8
    Joined: Apr 8, 2021
    Posts: 1,123

    twenty8
    Member

    People can choose to pay whatever they want for their interior. $15 grand seems over the top to me, but hey, that's just me. I would not be doing an interior that I was then constantly too scared to plonk my hairy butt on and go for a spin.
    And as for the Pebble Beach mentality?.............. Well, 'nuff said.
     
  21. COCONUTS
    Joined: May 5, 2015
    Posts: 1,130

    COCONUTS

    Back before I was drafted and while I was in high school, I own a 55 Chevy, 283 3 speed on the floor, dual exhaust, with a bright butt orange lacquer paint job and chrome wheels. I took it over to a guy's shop that did boat interiors and asked him he he would redo the whole interior in black tuck and roll. He told me bring me what you want done, not the whole car and I will call you when it is completed. Well I was driving around for 3 months on a milk box and bugging the guy everyday. After 3 long months he gave me a call and told me to bring the car over. I help him install everything but it was pleats not tuck and roll and to tell you the truth I would not known the difference at that time. So when everything was said and done, I asked him, "how much do I owe you" I was thinking maybe 2 or 3 hundred bucks. He replied 600 dollars should cover it. So I told him that I would be right back, and I did come right back, for it took 3 more months to earn the 600 dollars pumping gas. The guy was OK with the deal, and the car sat in a small garage next to his shop.
     
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  22. Jacksmith
    Joined: Sep 24, 2009
    Posts: 930

    Jacksmith
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    My '39 coupe has an original seat in it that was re-done 40+ years ago. The foam is breaking down so I went to a shop, that's done work for me on other cars, to get just the foam replaced in the lower seat... $600.00! Y.G.B.S.M.!!
     
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  23. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 6,047

    chopolds
    Member
    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    A couple other thoughts... A new guy I found locally, is reasonable, does decent work, but now tells me there is a shortage of 'foam' going on, and it's holding up all his work. And I would guess when the shortage goes away, higher prices will follow!
    Secondly, I've found that the better craftsmen, will often give a more honest quote of the prices. How many times have we heard this story:
    A friend asks me how much a real candy apple paint job will cost. I tell give him a ballpark of 8-15 K depending on how much "fixing" of his bodywork will be needed. Of course it seems too high, so he tows the car out to a shop around 300 miles away, for an estimate of 5K. When he picks it up, he's presented with a bill for 15K! Not a happy camper. The shop justifies the increase with a list of "things that had to get done", like painting the door jambs. And I thought that was already part of a good Candy paint job.!
     
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  24. corncobcoupe
    Joined: May 26, 2001
    Posts: 6,040

    corncobcoupe
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Staff Member

    For those that are on a low budget, if your existing car has decent door panels suggest going to a junkyard and looking for late-model buckets with a rear seat that would fit in your ride. Just try to match the colors up as close as you can or in some cases contrasting colors can look decent too. Example, if you have brown door panels find some cream colored front buckets and rear seat. Just some suggestions.
     
  25. corncobcoupe
    Joined: May 26, 2001
    Posts: 6,040

    corncobcoupe
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Staff Member

    Over the years I find myself much more interested in survivor cars with worn paint and interiors. As long as I don’t have a spring up my tail, I am comfy.

    Seriously, I am more inclined to slip over seat covers and call it a day. Not perfect but not all foam hanging out and torn and ripped. I’ve done by time with high dollar paint jobs and high dollar interiors.

    Now, faded paint, throw a blanket over the seat and enjoy driving them to a local drive-in and/or weekly drop in seeing friends.

    I guess things come full circle from pretty basic when I was young, shiny and expensive in the middle years and now as I get older I like them with faded paint and bumps and bruises with a good stance/Rake.
    Sort of a traditional guy huh.
     
  26. A Boner
    Joined: Dec 25, 2004
    Posts: 6,610

    A Boner
    Member

    The biggest pain in the butt, to me when building a Hot Rod…trim shop jail and paint shop jail. The seemingly high cost is just part of the problem!
     
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  27. corncobcoupe
    Joined: May 26, 2001
    Posts: 6,040

    corncobcoupe
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Staff Member

    @stanlow69

    It would be interesting to get Stan’s take on it.
     
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  28. I have used SEM interior dye a lot over the years. You can take those junkyard seats and many times get the color closer via dye. Vinyl OR fabric. Have done both myself.
     
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  29. 41rodderz
    Joined: Sep 27, 2010
    Posts: 6,435

    41rodderz
    Member
    from Oregon

    Agreed. As well as an account from Krylon32 and Frames .
     
  30. dart4forte
    Joined: Jun 10, 2009
    Posts: 196

    dart4forte
    Member
    from Mesa, AZ

    Famous upholsters like Gabe from Coddington fame is through the roof. I’ll bet just to get a standard interior done on a sedan would run you 30k. I’m sure he’s backed up doing high end jobs for the celebrity shops in the LA area. Of course his interiors bring on bragging rights.
     
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