1. Transparency – If your vehicle is due for minor to extensive restoration or mechanical work, the first thing you likely want to know is when can they get it in, how much will it cost, and how long will it take? A shop that provides you with an exact answer to any one of those questions, isn't being honest with you. If you’ve been around classic cars long enough, you know every project grows and grows and grows some more. An authentic merchant will tell you right away, "I can’t answer that, but what I will do is keep you up to date and explain everything as we come across it."
Old parts become brittle, hard to procure, and require fabrication in extreme cases. Unless your mechanic is a psychic, you better relax, open your checkbook, and enjoy the ride. Even then, the unforeseen may arise.
2. Enthusiasm – A telltale sign if someone is trying to scam you is their level of interest—too much or too little are both red flags. Here’s an example: you’re buying a car from a dealer and decide to do the right thing and have a certified appraiser inspect it first. The appraiser arrives at the dealer and requests the vehicle be put on a hoist to verify engine and transmission numbers. The sales manager is quick to refuse the request with a litany of reasons why the dealer can’t do that—liability insurance doesn’t allow them too; their hoist is for staging vehicles only, and so on. A reputable dealer will do backflips to fulfill your requests, and won't have any problems accommodating your, or your appraisers, requests.
3. Word of mouth - Last, but most definitely not least, referrals are by far the best tool in your toolbox in getting the job done right. Before Google and Yelp, people talked to one another about good and bad service. Neighbors would meet for coffee on their driveways and yap about their cars. They still do this in the form of car clubs. True enthusiasts regularly meet and greet to show off their prized chariots. You can find a variety of local car clubs on Facebook. These guys and gals will quickly refer you to the pros- the folks they use and trust- and deter you from the cons.