Auburn resident Jeff Scammon had been planning a makeover for his car ever since he bought it, and by 2003 he was ready to put his plan into action. Here’s what happened. . .
Diary of a Honda make-over
Story and photos by Jeff Scammon

April 2003:

After a rough winter, I finally put new rims on my car. Going from stock rims to aftermarket rims really changes the look of a car. I’ve also been thinking about bodywork for my ’94 Honda Civic ever since I bought it.

This consists of getting all the dents, nicks, and scratches fixed and a paint job. I also am pricing an aftermarket body kit at various websites. I found one I really like, but it is $500 plus $150 shipping and handling.

My parents won’t pay for my aftermarket car accessories, so I applied for, and got, a job.

May 2003:

I am working 25 hours a week, plus going to school full-time, in order to save for the body kit. The one I want includes front and back bumpers, as well as side skirts, all equipped with mesh grills.

June 2003:

Finally have enough saved for the body kit. I order the kit from an online site, but do it through a local business. It took a week to get the call that the kit had arrived at the store. One of my friends, who has an SUV, brought me to pick up the kit, since it was too large to put in my car. Once I got the kit home, I unwrapped and inspected each of the four pieces.

I was disappointed to find a small tear in one of the side skirts. I called the store and they said to return just the side skirt with the tear.

After the store contacted the online company, they told me the response was that it could not be returned but they deducted $50 from the price of the kit.

Since the tear was on the underside, was very small and would likely be trimmed to fit, that was okay with me.

This month, I also began visiting local auto body repair shops for specific estimates on

bodywork, kit installation and a paint job.

The estimates ranged from $1,200 to $3,500. A friend, who has installed a lot of aftermarket car accessories on his car, referred me to two friends of his who are interested in doing the work for $1,000. This sounds good to me, so I visit them. We settle the details, and I circle a date two weeks away. They’ll have my car for three days while they work on it.

July 2003:

One of the two guys backs out at the last minute. I am getting discouraged about finding a reputable business that will do the work for less than a thousand. My sister’s boyfriend helps me install the front and rear bumpers, which took a whole day.

I don’t have the tools to install the side skirts, which might need some planing for a snug fit. I revisit one of the local businesses to find out how much it will cost for a nice paint job without installation of the body kit. The cost is still out-of-reach for me.

Then one of those coincidences happens when everything falls into place. I was sitting in the barber’s chair, talking about my search for someone to install the sideskirts and do bodywork and a paint job, and my barber said he knew someone in New Gloucester I should go visit. His name is Dave, and he has his own auto body repair and paint shop called “Bump and Grind.” I visited him that same day.

I was impressed with the work Dave has done and then, Wow! Dave said he could do all the work on my car, including the paint job … for $800. Plus, he can do it next week! He’ll have my car for three or four days, so I’ll be bumming rides and using my parents’ car.

July 7-9, 2003:

I brought my car to Dave’s on Monday morning. He is pleasant to talk to, and I feel confident he is the right choice to do the work on my car. I gave him my cell phone number so he could call me with updates on how the work is going. When he called Monday afternoon to say he had completed the body work (rust, dents, nicks) and would be installing the side skirts, he agreed to let me go see it and take pictures. These photos show the car with the bodywork completed and the side skirts installed. The car will be painted on the third day.

July 10, 2003:

I got my car back, and I am very happy with the body work and paint job on it. I can’t wait to drive around in it and go to car shows. This is probably the last aftermarket accessorizing I’ll be doing for a while because I now have to save for college.

One of my friends is saving for a body kit, and he has gone to several auto body work shops for estimates, which were in the same price range of $1,200 to more than $3,000. He brought his car to Dave’s and got an estimate of $800. My friend is in the same boat I was in this spring and must save up for the body kit, body work and paint job.

July 14, 2003:

A friend got into a fender bender in front of a collision repair shop today. Since he was right there, he got an estimate from them… more than $3,000, which would pretty much classify his car as totaled. His car was still drivable so I suggested he go see Dave, where he was given an estimate of just over $900.

My advice is to shop around and compare the costs included in the fee, such as labor, parts, the type of paint, and also if there is a long wait until your car can be scheduled and how long you will be without a car.

This was a good experience, and now I’m looking for a truck.

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