My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1550: The Mustang Project - Phase 1 Complete

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 05-09-2015 11:26 AM 1625 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1549: Carousel Kit is Posted on the Website Part 1550 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1551: Patience - Lessons from a Box of Thread »

Those of you who are on my Facebook page (Sheila Landry Designs Scroll Saw Art) or personal friends of mine, know that this has been a really crazy week. Besides finishing up my "Scary-Go-Round" Haunted Carousel project (which is now available for pre-order), 

I have been running (or rather, driving) back and forth to get my 2003 Mustang completely renovated and restored. This has taken a LOT of my time and has been a lot of work, but I think I am in the home stretch. 

I tell you all of this because I know many of you have come to expect daily posts from me. While I miss a day here and there, I usually make up for it with an array of projects following, or present the projects that Keith has been working on in the mean time. But between the long term (three week) process of developing the carousel and dragging Keith with me to drive me to drop off, pick up or get estimates for my car, we have both not been as productive in the creative department these past few weeks and I wanted to let you all know why.  

Sometimes life gets in the way. 

I wanted to share the process of the rebuild of my car because when I posted it on Facebook the other night, there seemed to be lots of interest. Those of you who know me know how much I have always loved cars (Mustangs in particular) and for the past 11 years, I have been driving my own 'dream car' of a 2003 Mustang GT convertible. I purchased it back in 2003 after an incredibly successful year selling my "Forest Leaf" series of scroll saw patterns. It took me six years to pay it off, and during that time I went through many hardships in my life. Throughout it all, I never missed a payment by even a day, and I look upon it as a representation of overcoming some of the most challenging times in my life. 

I have kept the car pretty nice. Even though I had an accident with it just a few days before the last payment, I had it repaired and the interior is near mint. It has low miles (85K) for its age and engine and runs beautifully. I hope to keep it for many years to come. 

But time has done a job on its exterior. I haven't always had the money to put it in storage in the winter, and as you can imagine, every year it has gone through some very brutal weather. This year was by far the worse to date. Even though I don't drive it from December until April, it suffered greatly. 

The roof had began to leak a bit. I understand after 11 years, that is typical. The stretching and contraction of the vinyl over and over with the heat and cold extremes naturally wears the seams. Since I wanted to keep the car in good shape, I knew that I had no choice but to replace it as soon as possible. 

Then there was the paint issue. The clear coat began blistering last year, and I had the header over the front windshield painted, but after another winter, there were many spots that a great amount of blistering was occuring. While the visible rust was only very minor, I realized that the salty ocean air had taken its toll and it was time to either paint the car or give up on it and get another. 

I weighed the decision heavily, and decided on the repairs. Although they wouldn't be cheap, they would certainly be better than starting from scratch with another car. I cannot afford a new Mustang or any type of car so nice, and what I would wind up getting – even if I sold my car – would be a cheap, new(er) car that I wouldn't be happy with. So repar it was. 

Finding reliable people to do the work was a huge challenge. I had gone to Ford in the autumn and tried to get an estimate to have them do the work. After spending over an hour having their people look it over, I was  promised a full estimate over the winter so I could start work as soon as the snow melted. 

They failed to contact me and I found myself calling repeatedly to try to get the estimate. To this day, I still don't have it. 

I did find a gentleman who replaced tops and did upholsterer work. He had 25 years experience and from the time he called me, he was reliable and spot on with his work. He showed up when he said he would, followed up the next day, and gave a fair estimate. He explained everything in a way that we understood what we needed without being condescending. I had a good feeling about him and went with him and gave him the job. 

I took the car over there on Wednesday which ate up half our day. He lived in the middle of the province, through roads I will call "less traveled". I was nervous, but when we got there, he was again professional and explained everything. 

I picked up the car on Thursday and was thrilled with the result. The top looked beautiful and just like new:

For the first time in months, I was really encouraged at the outcome. I finally felt like I was doing the right thing. Phase 1 of the "Mustang Project" was complete!

In the mean time, I had lined up a shop in Halifax who would do the restoration. This as well was not an easy task and took a great deal of time. I looked at many, many ads from shops all over the province, but for one reason or another, they were ticked off the list. 

Finally I found the website of a shop near the airport. It was called "Curtis Customs" and one thing that got my attention was they they offered shop tours one day a week. After reading through their site (which I understand is outdated a bit) and seeing their work, I decided to give them a call about a tour. 

I talked to Curtis himself who answered the phone on a whim. His usual person was not there he said, and he picked it up as he walked by. I told him what I needed and he was professional, attentive and invited us to come and see what they did. 

Long story short – last Saturday Keith and I took the ride out to take the shop tour and get the estimate. I was really impressed with not only the quality of the work, but the care and thoroughness that the team had. You could tell that these guys all LOVED what they were doing. Curtis told us that he doesn't even have his employees punch in, as they come and go as they feel fit and most of them are there many more hours than required. Some of them worked on their own cars on Saturdays or after hours. I have learned that people who love what they do tend to do a better job. 

Their shop had many accolades under their belt. They had worked on cars of people such as Keifer Southerland, Jay Leno and ZZ Top. They won awards at car shows, too. I even heard that The Discrovery Channel is going to be filming a 16 part show on Curtis and his shop. When they explained the processes they they would follow when painting my car and showed the cars that they were working on, I was really impressed. 

They offered what I consider a fair estimate and Curtis told me that if they found any 'surprises' (hidden rust, problems, etc.) it would be on them. Curtis did all his fabrication by hand, using a hammer and anvil. Seeing his craftsmanship was a thrill. These guys were old school and took pride in their work. 

So I booked time with them and we agreed on the makeover. The car will look like new when it is done. 

I have some 'before' photos of the paint issues:

While as you can see in the full body photos, the car still looks nice, when looking at the paint, you can see all the blistering. If unattended, it wouldn't be long before it would be filled with rust. 

The trip to Halifax last week was certainly worth it. It takes us about three hours each way to travel, and eats up the entire day. But having someone who I feel will do quality work is certainly worth my time. 

We left early yesterday and didn't get home until nearly 9pm. This time we needed to drive both cars there so we could leave the Mustang for the repairs. Curtis told me that they may not start for a week, but if they would as soon as they finished up a couple of jobs (wait time for major customizing is over 3 years now at his shop – "Simple" paint jobs such as mine with minor work is much quicker). It seems as if all things were aligned just right with this entire process. 

Curtis told me he would be taking photos and sending them as they work. He wants me to see the process, and how thorough they are. I like that a lot. I am nervous, but now more excited than anything. 

I hope you don't mind me sharing this in my blog. In a way, it is about being creative, as Keith and I have been planning the graphics and colors that we will be having on the car. I pretty much knew the look I wanted, but as always, I appreciate Keith's input a great deal. I think it is going to be amazing!

I will continue to update you all if you are interested. Just let me know if you enjoy seeing this kind of thing. I know not everyone will like or appreciate it, but some of you will, and those that aren't interested can just take a 'day off' from reading. :)  I mentioned in the beginning when I started this blog that it would not only be about painting and woodworking, but also somewhat about my personal life. Sometimes in the past, those are the posts that I receive the most response from. 

It is another sunny day here in Nova Scotia, albeit cool. I plan to get busy again with my carousel pattern writing as well as other projects that I am working on (YES – More are in the works!) I hope you are all enjoying some nice weather and I wish you all a lovely weekend. Happy Mother's Day to the moms out there! I will see you all on Monday!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

5 comments so far

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3470 posts in 4314 days

#1 posted 05-10-2015 03:48 AM


The new top looks fabulous! How wonderful for you to find craftsmen with whom you have confidence. It can be very difficult to find quality craftsmanship. I need a little minor mechanical work done on my car and I have become frustrated with finding someone to do it. I don’t mind paying a fair price for the work, but I really hate being lied to about the work needed, and that seems to be extremely prevalent these days. (I especially hate that they think women are too stupid to know they are lying!) Incompetence is rampant!

I look forward to seeing your “new” car!


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3406 days

#2 posted 05-10-2015 10:58 PM

The carousel is awesome, but, so is your Stang.. . Cruise up n down that road…... this is about a Mercury, but, maybe it’ll spark a memory er two.. : ....OR…. this one: Drive/Cruise safe. Watch out for those motorcycles out there.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3522 days

#3 posted 05-11-2015 11:29 AM

Hi, L/W. You aren’t kidding when you say it is hard to find craftsmanship! Especially being a female. I have experienced prejudice frequently in both the woodworking industry as well as the automotive industry since I was very young. Unfortunately, I still don’t see much improvement in things many years later.

When I purchased my first “NEW” Mustang in 2000 (a 2000 6cyl car) I lived in the Chicago area and I had the luxury of choices. I went to many, many dealerships and I was appalled and amazed at the treatment I received from most of them. Even though I was putting a substantial amount of money down on the car and had a good, well cared for trade in most salesmen kept looking to my the-boyfriend who came with me and talked to him, not me. The amount that was offered for the trade in varied widely dealer to dealer, and most of the salesmen didn’t even LISTEN to what options I wanted on the car. They kept trying to sell me what THEY wanted and ignored most of my requests. It was really an eye opener for me.

I finally came across a dealer that treated me decently. The salesman talked with ME and not my partner. He listened to what I had to say and showed me cars that met my criteria. He also offered the best price for my trade in. These were all Ford dealerships within a ten mile radius. I not only purchased the 2000 Mustang from him, but three years later purchased the 2003 GT Convertible from him as well. I would think that selling two cars to me in the span of three years was worth it to him.

This has been a challenge here for me though. The dealership near me has been jerking me around for several months. I purposely went to them in November to get this job estimated (paint, minor repair, roof) and I let them know I wanted it done as soon as we thawed out in spring. In March I called them because over the winter I still hadn’t heard from them with the estimate. “Oh- we didn’t get back to you yet?” the sales manager said. I gave them one more chance and after several phone calls, finally got an appointment to get the top done (with an independent business – they outsourced it because the car is over 10 years old and they won’t do it at the dealership anymore)

The gentleman that they referred me to was prompt, courteous and on time. He did the estimate and called me the next day to see if Ford had contacted me, as he had to go through them. I told him they had not and he was surprised, as he had given them his estimate the same day I saw him. I called and tried to give them one more chance and the service manager was on the phone. I left my number (they do know me anyway – we live in a rural area and I have the only car like mine.)

That was over 3 weeks ago and I STILL haven’t even heard from them with ANY type of estimate for any work at all. I wound up going back to the roof guy and after giving about a week, he agreed to do the job eliminating Ford altogether. He was ethical about it, because he didn’t want to undercut them when they brought him work, but we both agreed that after calling several times and not receiving a response, I had every right to approach him as an independent craftsman.

I am interested in seeing what Ford will come up with eventually as far as an estimate. I figure one day they will come across the paperwork and remember to call. :/ They really suck.

I am thinking of a letter to Ford. Not that I will get anything out of it, but I want someone higher up to know that they walked away from several thousands of dollars of work. (All the while, car dealerships are crying poor mouth!)

As far as the custom shop for painting, I did spend a lot of time looking, reading reviews and talking to people. As I mentioned, this shop has won all kinds of awards for their work. They love what they do. They have had high profile clients and are even getting a Discovery Channel series done on them. I was pleased with the quote, and it includes any and all work on rust, etc. They promise that “any surprises are on us” and they will be sending photos of all the work they do as they do it. I am “hopeful”.

Roger – both songs are among my favorites. Nothing like rocking tunes to make the driving experience awesome! I will have photos of the car when it is done and the amazing sound system Keith put in it for me last year. It had a good one, but this one is off the charts.

I am always aware and careful of what is around me, too. My ex boyfriend had a “Fat Lady” Valkrye bike that we enjoyed a great deal. I always consider bikers and I am very respectful of their ‘space’. :)

Have a great week you two! :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3406 days

#4 posted 05-12-2015 02:04 PM

Hope you can get something resolved with your car. There are just too many people out there everywhere that just don’t want to do their jobs. I’d write that letter to Ford. There isn’t anything that hate more than people who do crappy work, or don’t do their work at all. Good luck.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3522 days

#5 posted 05-12-2015 02:21 PM

I really think that it is in good hands at this point. I was given a timetable that is reasonable, and I can deal with that. Curtis Customs is going to start on it next Monday.

I am a patient person (see the post I wrote today!) and I can understand waiting. But going into Ford MONTHS ago and having to continually hound them and beg them to do a job is crazy. They aren’t doing ME a favor. I am the one who is going to pay THEM to do the work! (NOT ANYMORE!)

Since I took them out of the equation, I feel much better. Sitting and waiting for them to return calls was a continual source of irritation for me for the past several months. Try as I did to be patient and not think of it, it bugged me. Especially every time it rained and the car had the small leak.

I finally reached the breaking point when the top guy called and said they were to call me. As I said – that was three weeks ago and after leaving messages, they STILL haven’t called back. I would be a FOOL to throw more money in their direction.

Yes – a letter will be in the works. I promise to tell the end of the story. I doubt it will do anything, but I want to be heard. I am waiting though until my car is complete. I also have to consider that I may have to take my car back there at some point, as we live in a rural area and the choices are very limited. I have an independent mechanic, but if he ever retires I would be stuck. Also some things require the dealer. I am just going slowly at this point, as I have nothing more to lose.

Thanks as always for your thoughts. I appreciate your point of view very much.

Have a great day! Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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