This can vary greatly depending on the level of restoration and the condition of the vehicle. As a rough idea, a “driver” type topside only body and paint could be about 300 hours. A turnkey restoration on a clean car with few options can be 1000-1200 hours while a rougher car with more options could be 1200-2000 hours of labor. Often a similar restoration from my past can be used for comparison to get a ballpark figure.
All jobs are done on a time and materials basis. Billing is based on actual hours spent on the car and parts and materials used. A ballpark cost can be estimated, but final costs are based on real time spent. The variables in restoring these wonderful old cars are countless, and each one is unique and will have its own set of challenges. When a shop quotes a firm price, the trouble starts when that price can’t be met toward the end of the project. Corners are cut to make the price, and the job suffers. Nobody wins.
Contact is made via e-mail, phone conversation, etc. and with the monthly billing. Photos are included to document progress as well as detailed descriptions of work performed and hours logged. Digital photo images are also stored on a backup CD and will be provided at the end of the project.
When necessary or desirable. It really depends on the particular part and the type of restoration being done. Something like carpeting, where you have no other option, is an easy choice. Things like a trunk floor pan or a quarter-skin require more thought. Some reproduction parts are very nice, others can be “massaged” to make them acceptable, and yet others are just simply junk.