Building a business on refurbishing old classic cars is not a job for the faint hearted and each model that comes through the door at Fuel Customs in Sebenza, shows you that no two jobs are ever the same. Louw du Toit and Trevor Woolfson are the directors of Fuel Customs. They say that for this reason they put each job into a control repair package process.
Du Toit and Woolfson both hail from being partners at Vespa South Africa, and started the vehicle restoration business at the same time while restoring classic Vespas. The company started out in a basement operation in Sandton and graduated to their impressive new body shop centre, complete with epoxy floors and new state-of-the-art work stations.
Every service is now under one roof for ground-up restoration. They have a storage facility close by too for overflow and delayed work that might be awaiting parts or further funding to complete the project. PRD Customs, a completely separate business, does all of the mechanical work in-house for Fuel Customs, making quality control much easier for the team.
Woolfson has created his own computer control business package for each restoration in progress. “We start off with a base quote which can vary immensely right from a polish job without materials up to a barn find in big distress.” said Woolfson.
“Once we have stripped and fully examined any vehicle, we generate a full quotation on work that needs to be carried out. The next step is finance from the customer and once that’s sorted we commence with the refurbishment. The company has various services in-house, right from body and panel, engine rebuilding and hard parts repair to upholstery and electrical repair on offer. It is a sort of one-stop shop repair facility. Fuel Customs aims to make the classic car journey back to pristine condition as fuss-free as possible.”
Down in the body and panel section BASF Glasurit are able to supply the complete colour library of world classic car original shades, so models reborn are colour perfect every time. Louw went on to point out that the work is dependent on the state or condition of the car under repair.
As we look through the work in progress an early Porsche convertible gets the start-up treatment as the final work all done meets the moment of truth within a couple of minutes. It’s off beat exhaust note is comfortably ticking over, an indication that all is well. The work in review at Fuel Customs looks like a classic car park with Fiat 500’s, Porsche, VW classic kombi’s, Mercedes and big banger Ford V8 models, all in for cosmetic and major refurbishment.
Trevor and Louw oversee all of the rebuild work and it is this hands-on ability, the unique costing system to keep the customer informed of money issues, as well as great service, that has seen Fuel Customs turn a vision into a viable business model.
If you are in the body shop business I will let you do the thinking on just how difficult jobs can become with all the unknowns when dealing with classic car restorations. You can make it work with great knowledge and a few hard knocks along the highway of life.
Visit them on www.fuelcustoms.co.za or call Louw on +27 (0)82 908 1963 for more information.