69 Plymouth Road Runner
“My experience of American Auto Finishers started with a visit to the Cranleigh workshop on a Saturday morning with the Road Runner to meet John. I had owned the car for 20 years at this point. It had always been in a roadworthy condition and even looked pretty good from a distance, but up close all the usual signs of wear and tear for a 35-year-old Mopar were visible. Rust around the rear windows and bottoms of the quarter panels, plus signs of knocks and scrapes and a deteriorating 30 year old respray. The time had come to put things right and the only way to go about it was to take her apart and fix all the damage first.
My visit convinced me John was the right person for the job. Not only did I recognise him as a long-time Mopar man, but I also discovered that Saturday morning is open house at the workshop and was able to meet and chat with like-minded owners and see for myself the top-class work in progress.
The decision was soon made and not to be regretted. From the start I wanted to be involved myself so after a week stripping the car I left the rolling shell with John to start on the bodywork, while I set off home with a shed load of parts to restore or replace. This is when the shopping list started growing!
After an enthusiastic start, things started to go down hill and I started to question my wisdom in starting this project. As the car came apart and the paint and filler were removed the body was starting to look like a total disaster. From patching a few rust spots, essential repairs escalated to: a new frame rail; new quarter panels; rear wheel housings; trunk floor extensions; rear deck panel; one new sill and to cap it all, so to speak, a new roof.
This was the lowest point of the project, but I was determined not to give up. John assured me that all was possible and the turning point came when I discovered a replacement roof, which was expertly grafted in place of the dented and filled original that had remained hidden under a vinyl roof for 30+ years.
As several other cars in the workshop went through the finishing stages of restoration I started to see the potential for the Road Runner and my enthusiasm was restored. Weeks passed with varying degrees of progress, but regular visits to the workshop, many cups of tea and doughnuts gradually saw the body return to shape. John took the time to explain what had been done each time and the new friends I’d made there were equally supportive. It was clear that everyone at American Auto Finishers was intent on turning out a top class restoration and they were all as keen as me to see it completed.
At the end of 23 months we were all rewarded with the spectacle of the finished article. Better still; I got to drive it home!
The car went on to win Best of Show at the 2007 Mopar Nationals and appeared at the NEC Classic Car Show as a Classic American Magazine, Car of the Year heat winner.
My thanks go to John and all the guys at American Auto Finishers for all their hard work and enthusiasm.”
1967 Ford Mustang (2005 – 2008)
”Outstanding’ That pretty much sums up my experience with John and the team at American Auto Finishers.
We spent 4 years restoring my 67 Mustang and to be honest the time flew by. These guys love doing what they do and the quality of their work speaks volumes, their attention to detail and knowledge is
unquestionable, they really know their stuff.
I visited a number of restorers across the UK and it takes just a few garages for you to realise what really matters and for me it was knowing that whoever I gave my car to was going to take as much
care and pride in the job as I would.
Without hesitation, if I had a other car, it would go straight to American Auto Finishers’
1969 Dodge Charger
This letter is long overdue but I am writing to say a massive thank you for the absolutely fantastic job you have done on my 1969 Dodge Charger, its 1st class. I have been busy showing it off at shows and to friends and colleagues, all of whom have been just as astounded as I have with the quality of workmanship involved. On top of that, it was backed up by a truly magnificent service from yourselves for whom I can’t thank you enough.
Anyone that has seen my car has commented on the outstanding quality of work that is evident throughout the build. I have had people start conversations with ‘I’m in bodywork and that paint is just flawless, fair play’, Quentin Wilson commented at the Bristol motor show ‘ There’s no blemishes or dips in the paint work, the body is arrow straight, this is stunning work’ and John Schneider who played the original Bo Duke in the TV series and has himself built and seen many General Lee examples wrote ‘Stunning Car, Amazing gaps’ on the boot lid when signing it.
Three years on and I’m still getting that kind of praise, it’s a testament to your expertise in Mopar and passion for quality.
Highlights of ownership so far have been being awarded the Ace Café Best Restified award at the 2006 Mopar Euro Nationals, American Car World’s top 6 winner for 3 years in a row now, appearing on ITV’s Used Car Roadshow and Channel 5’s Fifth Gear, and I was hugely proud to be asked to help represent the Mopar Muscle Association on their stand at the NEC Classic car Show in November 2006. It has also featured in a five page spread in the August 2008 edition of American Car World magazine where the teaser on the cover stated “UK’s finest General Lee”, praise indeed!
I loved every minute of the restoration process. I could never understand why, when reading about a restored car in one of the magazines the article would close by saying that the owner was selling or had sold the car to do something else, I now understand, you have made this such a fantastic experience I just want to do another one.
Once again many many thanks to you and your team.