Frequently Asked Questions

Please browse our FAQ.


Have questions about FantomWorks, what we do, or how we do it?  Below you will find the most frequently asked questions.  Some questions span multiple categories, so don’t be surprised if you see the same question in more than one location.  We want to make it easy for you to find answers.  If your question isn’t here or you want more information, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Cost, Payments, Etc
      1. How much will it cost?
      2. What parts will need to be purchased?
      3. This vehicle only has a little rust. How much will that cost?
      4. Can I finance the restoration?
      5. How are payments made?
      6. If I bought a car really cheap, then it should be cheap to restore, right?
      7. I’ve found body shops at $44/hour, how can FantomWorks claim $75.00 per hour is affordable?
      8. Can you give me a fixed price quote?
      9. How much does it cost to fix my electrical problems or rewire my vehicle?
      10. How much does it cost to do an engine swap?


1. How much will it cost?

The total cost depends on the cost of parts and materials as well as $75.00 ($85.00 for mechanical) per hour in labor for the work the customer agrees to have us do. Once we have reviewed the vehicle, but before we start work on it, the customer is given an estimate of costs that they agree to.

Estimates are just that, estimates. They are not a final bill and can fluctuate depending on customer additions/subtractions and other factors.

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2. What parts will need to be purchased?

Believe it or not, this is mostly up to the customer. If the customer wants us to re-use the parts they have then we can; however, if in their present condition the parts are less than ideal, the customer will accept that every piece will not appear “show car ready” or “factory floor new”. Parts typically represent about 25% of the total cost of the restoration. If the customer wants every piece to appear “show car ready” or “factory floor new” then we will rework, repair, and rebuild every part to those conditions. Something to consider is that when a customer gets their car back with show quality paint, slightly dull or pitted chrome will look considerably different when attached to perfectly aligned and painted panels on your “new” classic. The same holds true for interiors.

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3. My vehicle only has a little rust. How much will that cost?

Unfortunately, rust repair is difficult to estimate; especially if the vehicle has been painted within the previous ten years. Paints and fillers can hide a tremendous amount of corrosion and we won’t be able to adequately ascertain the amount of damage until after we’ve removed everything covering the metal through soda blasting. Rust is insidious in nature and tends to attack panels from the inside out so by time you see the damage, there is considerably more you don’t see.

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4.Can I finance my restoration?

We do not offer in-house financing for restorations. Generally, after the customer agrees to the estimate, we begin with a down payment. Other payments can be made as we make significant progress on the project. We are very flexible, so if a customer has specific concerns, we can discuss them and come up with an agreeable solution.

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5. What is the payment schedule like?

We will send the customer reports of the progress made. At these junctures, we generally require some payment toward the total bill. We generally require about 25% as a down payment. Note: We CANNOT accept checks as final payment for new customers.

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6. If I bought a car really cheap, then it should be cheap to restore, right?

No, in fact, this is almost always the opposite of the truth. Vehicles are generally sold cheaply for one of two reasons. Either the vehicle is very unpopular or the vehicle is in very poor shape. Both of those conditions result in more expensive repairs. If the vehicle is a traditionally “unpopular” or non mainstream vehicle then restoration and repair parts are much harder to find and are generally more expensive. As an example, it would be more expensive to restore a 1976 AMC Pacer than a 1965 Mustang Fastback.

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7. I’ve found body shops at $44/hour, how can DRS claim $75.00 is affordable?

Body shops operate under what is typically referred to as a 2:1 rule. They estimate the hours to paint your vehicle based on a set of look-up tables. Any good body man can fix your vehicle in one half to one third of the number of hours quoted on your estimate. If a body shop estimates the vehicle’s body work at 50 hours, they will most likely be able to do the work in about 25 hours (but they will still charge for the 50 hours). The result is that even though their “posted” rates are less, their “effective” rate is about double our rates. We estimate your vehicle based upon realistic estimates not the industry “look-up” tables. If we work 25 hours on a vehicle, the customer pays for 25 hours of work, and not for 50 hours like the rest of the industry. We also provide more than just mechanic or body work into our rate as well. If the car needs parts, we have a person whose only job is to find the required parts needed for the job. Our rate includes their services which is normally extra at most other shops.

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8. Can you give me a quote?

The short answer is no. The long answer is a customer would need to make an appointment with us to go over their vehicle. Then we can create a realistic estimate based on what we saw when looking at the vehicle. An over the phone quote or estimate will always “cost” the customer more. In order to give a quote or estimate without seeing the vehicle, we have to anticipate everything that could potentially go wrong and then “bill” the customer for that scenario. The probability is that NOT everything will go wrong, so the quote or estimate given without seeing the vehicle is going to be far higher than if the customer brought the vehicle for us to inspect. There is great variability in the work when dealing with antique cars, and that requires a complete understanding of all the required work, we will not commit to a “sight unseen” quote or estimate for restorations or major repairs.

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9. How much does it cost to fix electrical problems or rewire a vehicle?

The nature of electrical problems are intensely variable. When we’re asked a question like: How much does it cost to completely fix all my electrical problems, or better yet, replace my electrical harness? Even upon inspection there’s no way to give a completely accurate estimate. In one case, a man brought us a classic Bentley with massive electrical issues following a vehicle fire. He had received estimates from other shops ranging up to about $10,000.00. We were able to find all the problems and fix all of his electrical issues for about $500.00. In another case, a customer brought us a classic Impala with some wiring issues that originally looked simple. When we dug into the harness, we found it had been badly cut apart by a stereo/alarm installer and we were forced to remove and replace the entire harness. Along with the harness replacement, we had to repair a number of systems (instrument lights, gauges, wiper motor) which had a failed because of the previous chop job. In this case any estimate based upon fixing a few systems would have been badly erroneous. Without an inspection of the vehicle, harness, and the devices to be connected (stereo, lights, alarm, wipers, etc…) along with a fairly involved question/answer session to discuss the customers expectations, there’s no way to get an accurate idea of the cost. We would need to ask the below questions to get an idea, without seeing your car or truck, and then we still could only get an extremely vague notion. If we guess too high, customers get upset and tell people we’re too expensive even though it was just an estimate; if we guess too low and the final repairs come in higher, customers get upset then too. The fact is that there’s no way to give an accurate guess and a bad guess gets customers upset. (See “Can you give me a quote?”) Questions would include:

  • Are you expecting us to get your vehicle running after the wiring work is completed?
  • Did the vehicle run before the wiring work was done?
  • Did the alternator charge before the wiring work started?
  • Was there any parasite draw before wiring work began?
  • Do you want us to fix all the things we find wrong besides the wiring?
  • Do you want the OEM parts (date coded alternator, generator, voltage regulator) repaired or do you want us to replace them?
  • What’s wrong with the original harness and why are you removing/repairing it?
  • Did every light work before? Are you expecting us to get the lights working?
  • What if the lights were the problem and not the wiring harness; do you want us to fix the lights?
  • Same question as above for (starter, alternator, gauges, distributor, sensor switches, windows, turn signals, door locks, stereo, power antenna, many others, etc…)
  • Is the interior in the vehicle (the interior must be removed or at least moved to facilitate some wiring)?
  • Is there any damage to your vehicle that would preclude us from wiring it as OEM?
  • Do you want the harness to look like the OEM?
  • Do you care about wiring color mismatches (in a generic wiring harness compared to the OEM)?
  • Is it ok if we have to wire the harness into a different ignition switch? Can we buy the new switch?
  • Do you want to use a correct harness or a generic un-terminated end harness?

There are many more questions and in many cases the answers to these questions can generate additional questions. So, please understand that the only way to even get a vague idea of the job involved is after a thorough physical inspection of the vehicle along with a question/answer session done first hand.

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10. How much does it cost to do an engine swap?

Engine swaps are generally divided into three categories:

  1. Same Size, Type, and Era: This is the removal of the original engine and then replaced with the same engine rebuilt or an exchange with an engine of the same specification (Size, type and transmission interface) as the one we remove. Example: we remove a carbureted Ford 289 and replace with a different carbureted Ford 289 or Ford 302. It is critical in this type of exchange that the replacement engine should be of the same era and of somewhat similar power. A carbureted 350 Chevrolet engine pulled out of a 1968 Camaro cannot be replaced with a tuned port injected 350 engine from a late model Corvette.Cost category: This is the lowest cost swap. We reuse the transmission, drive shaft, engine mounts, and most or all of the motor accessories (alternator, pulleys, etc). In this case replacing the motor mounts and transmission mounts requires only a bolt on exchange.Costs include:
    • Motor: It is up to the customer what is spent here. We will provide an non warrantied used salvage motor or a crate, warranted, re-manufactured motor, or the customer can provide their own motor).
    • Installation: This typically ranges from about $500.00 to about $2,000 depending upon reusing parts.
    • Consumables: Things like oil, plugs, wires, carburetor, distributor, motor mounts, trans mount, etc. usually costs around $500
  2. Same Era and Type, New Size: The removal of the engine and replacement with a same/similar period motor of the same type (e.g. both engines are carbureted). Example: a 1957 Bel Air with a carbureted 283 is swapped out with a mid 1970’s stroked 454. Because both engines are carbureted, using about 6psi fuel pressure, the fuel systems are compatible and a 454 will “bolt up” to the same transmission that the carbureted 283 bolted up to. Cost category: This is the mid grade cost swap. We reuse the transmission if it interfaces AND can handle the power of the new engine. The parts are reused on a case by case basis including: the drive-shaft (if possible) provided that the transmission doesn’t mandate a drive shaft change, the frame mounts (if possible), any of the motor accessories (alternator, pulleys, etc) that are compatible. This case may require re-welding the motor mounts and transmission mounts. This type of swap virtually always requires a new distributor, carburetor, intake, starter, exhaust system (headers or manifold and pipe and mufflers), as well as all of the peripheral items (plugs, wires, air cleaner, etc.). Additional modifications can involve changes to the cooling system, steering, and suspension. Costs include:
    • Motor: This is up to the customer what is spent here.
    • Installation: This ranges from about $2000.00 to about $5,000 depending upon reuse of parts.
    • Consumables: Things like oil, plugs, wires, carburetor, distributor, motor mounts, trans mount, etc. usually costs around $500.00.
  3. New Size, New Type, and New Era: This is the removal of the 1950’s or 1960’s era carbureted engine and replacing it with a late model computer controlled, fuel injected, roller cam, hardened valve seat, aluminium head motor. This is many times referred to as a “Resto Mod.” The advantage to this type of engine swap is that it brings the best of today’s motors (fuel efficiency, reliability, power) into yesterday’s more classic vehicles.Cost category: This is the highest cost engine swap. We generally have to replace everything with which the engine interfaces. It requires SIGNIFICANT modifications including (but not limited to): fuel system pressures and pumps, fuel system wiring, gauge interfaces, transmission interfaces, engine wiring upgrades, Computer (PCM/ECM) interfaces, intake integration, and motor mount/engine mount welding. Other modifications to the inside of the engine compartment including: cutting the firewall, modifications to the cradle, steering, suspension, etc. Additional modifications will generally involve modifications to the cooling system and every electrical component in the engine compartment. Costs include:
    • Motor: Generally it is better to get a full donor vehicle for this case. For exsmple, the purchase of a GM Crate motor would be missing so many components it would not be the most cost effective starting point.
    • Installation: This ranges from about $5000.00 on up depending upon the interfaces we exchange. This type of exchange can easily grow to a multi-system exchange including: fuel system, cooling system, transmission, cradle, suspension, differential, gauge/electrical system, and sometimes even more systems.
    • Consumables: Things like oil, plugs, wires, carburetor, distributor, motor mounts, trans mount, etc. usually cost around $500.00
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Parts
  1. What parts will need to be purchased?
  2. What happens to the parts removed or replaced from the vehicle?
  3. What protection is there that all of the original parts will be returned on the vehicle?


1. What parts will need to be purchased?

Believe it or not, this is mostly up to the customer. If the customer wants us to re-use the parts they have then we can; however, if in their present condition the parts are less than ideal, the customer will accept that every piece will not appear “show car ready” or “factory floor new”. Parts typically represent about 25% of the total cost of the restoration. If the customer wants every piece to appear “show car ready” or “factory floor new” then we will rework, repair, and rebuild every part to those conditions. Something to consider is that when a customer gets their car back with show quality paint, slightly dull or pitted chrome will look considerably different when attached to perfectly aligned and painted panels on your “new” classic.The same holds true for interiors.

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2. What happens to the parts removed or replaced from the vehicle?

Every part removed from a vehicle, that is economically repairable, will be reconditioned and re-installed. If the part is too expensive to repair we will replace the item. The original part will be returned to the customer. We do not keep any parts from your vehicle. If a customer has a core that needs to be turned in, we offer the customer the opportunity to get their core back instead of turning it in for core credit.

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3.What protection is there that all of the original parts will be returned on the vehicle?

We only include this question because we know of shops that have a reputation for taking original parts from a vehicle and replacing them with aftermarket cheaper parts. We will never remove a part without letting the customer know. Any parts removed will be returned to the customer if we determine it should not be re-installed. We photograph all parts of a vehicle in extreme detail before disassembly. This way we can show the customer the condition of all parts from when the vehicle arrived. We will absolutely never knowingly substitute any part of a vehicle.

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Process
  1. Will you come out and examine my vehicle before I bring it in?
  2. Can you pick up a vehicle (it is in parts and towing companies will not do it)?
  3. How many hours are typical?
  4. How long will the work take (work hours/months in the shop)?
  5. Do I need to repair rust I can’t see?
  6. Can we restore the vehicle in stages?
  7. Can we assist the customer in a restoration?
  8. Can I visit my vehicle or be part of the restoration process?
  9. Will I get reports on progress?
  10. Will your employees be the only people touching my vehicle?


1. Will you come out and examine my vehicle before I bring it in?

It is reasonable to expect that before a customer commits to a project, that they could get some idea of what the project will require (e.g. cost and schedule) for the desired performance.

We cannot go to the customer for an estimate. The costs associated with and the extensive time involved in driving out to inspect vehicles off-site is not something we have the luxury of doing.

Our process is to have the customer make an appointment to bring their vehicle into the shop for an estimate. Once an estimate is agreed upon, we can start work on the vehicle.

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2. Can you pick up my vehicle (it is in parts and towing companies will not do it)?

Yes, within reason. The pick up of your vehicle follows the rules listed above. We cannot come to you for an estimate, but we can get a vehicle to us. If a vehicle requires extensive work because of its condition, distribution, or distance from the shop, a fee will be negotiated in advance.

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3. How many hours are typical?

It is difficult to predict the hours required for a restoration. Once we have gone over your vehicle and created an estimate, we will have a rough idea of the hours required for the project; however, even after a thorough initial examination, the extent of rust, damage, and state of the parts under paint, fillers, and panels cannot be determined.

We have had a number of vehicles that the owners stated were “completely rust free vehicles” and so far, only one of those vehicles has been stripped down to find that there was actually no rust. In a few cases, vehicles were significantly rusted, even to the point of being dangerous to drive and yet the owners had no previous knowledge of the true state of their vehicle. Typically upon examination, after stripping the vehicle down to clean metal, owners ask us to rebuild every damaged part of the metal structure on their vehicles. So far, we have found that 200-1200 hours are generally required to rework a vehicle; with 200 to 500 being a cosmetic makeover and 900 to 1200 being a complete restoration. A trip to the rotisserie to completely finish the bottom of the vehicle in “mirror on the ground” adds about 25% to the effort.

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4. How long will the work take (work hours/months in the shop)?

We generally complete frame-off rotisserie restorations in about six to eight months. This can be completed faster if there is a valid reason (and it is funded accordingly) or may take longer if the restoration involves extremely hard to find parts or has significant corrosion.

Other projects just depend on the vehicle and what is being done. There is not table of hours for each project, especially when dealing with classic cars.

One of the most significant differences between many of our competitor’s shops and ours is the progress you will see. If you visit our shop to see your vehicle every two weeks you will see significant progress every time you visit. The only time a vehicle spends more than a day or two idle is if we are awaiting parts. You will be nothing less than amazed at our rate of high-quality progress.

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5. My vehicle only has a little rust. How much will that cost?

Unfortunately, rust repair is difficult to estimate; especially if the vehicle has been painted within the previous ten years. Paints and fillers can hide a tremendous amount of corrosion and we won’t be able to adequately ascertain the amount of damage until after we’ve removed everything covering the metal through soda blasting. Rust is insidious in nature and tends to attack panels from the inside out so by time you see the damage, there is considerably more you don’t see.

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6. Can we restore the vehicle in stages?

Yes, we will work with our customers in any reasonable fashion to complete the restoration per their requirements. Whether you wish to complete some of the phases or you want to stagger the restoration for budgetary reasons, we can accommodate your requirements and as a rule work with you. Exceptions to this rule include paint work. We cannot paint a vehicle over body work we did not do. We warrant our paint work but if body work is done outside of our shop, we cannot control what impurities were introduced between the metal and the paint and therefore we will not agree to paint over “outside” body work.

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7. Can we assist the customer in a restoration?

Although we cannot generally allow you to work in our facility, we can complete phases or parts of phases of a restoration for you. We will then return your vehicle to you to carry on the effort and can continue to work on it per your requirements at a later stage. The only exception to this is paint. See “Can we restore the vehicle in stages”.

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8. Can I visit my vehicle or be part of the restoration process?

Yes, we encourage our customers to make about 2 visits a month to review the vehicle’s progress. You can visit more often or less often as you wish but remember that too frequent visits can slow the progress of your effort and too infrequent visits may result in us not fully understanding your requirements. See “Can we assist the customer in a restoration”.

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9. Will I get reports on progress?

Yes, we will give you a walk-around progress of your vehicle as you have time and generally prefer about 2 visits per month. We will additionally provide updates via email and will provide a monthly report of your vehicle’s status.

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10. Will your employees be the only people touching my vehicle?

Other than machine work on your engine, installation of your exhaust system, and re-chroming pieces we will complete all of the work on your vehicle within our shop. We also take care of the transportation of your vehicle for any movement outside of our shop. What this means is that you will never have to worry about anyone pointing the finger at anyone else concerning your vehicle. We complete all the work and will take complete responsibility for the restoration.

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Questions? Send us a note.

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