At R&A Motorsports, it’s in the details
Lee’s Summit, Mo.—For Jeff Yergovich, it’s all about the details. His shop, R & A Motorsports, specializes in the restoration of ’65-’70 Mustangs and their Shelby variants. Although it takes on less-intensive restorations for daily-driven cars, its specialty is concours-level restorations destined to win shows held by the Mustang Club of America, Shelby American Automobile Club, and the Mid-America Ford and Shelby Nationals in Tulsa.
To get the details correct, Yergovich and his veteran staff of four rely on their experience and a library of thousands of detailed photos and notes collected over the years.
“You can have two cars with consecutive serial numbers and there will be something different,” Yergovich said. “One car may have been built on a Thursday and another one may have been built on a Friday, and a different guy was working on it and assembled it differently. Or they used a different piece of hardware. It’s a matter of figuring out what and why. They’re just assembly line cars; they’re not perfect.”
One such detail — a mirror support bracket finished in gold zinc dichromate - was a surprise find for a ’69 Mach 1 in the reassembly process, Yergovich said. Notes and photos of such anomalies upon disassembly aid not only in a factory-correct restoration, but also to alert show judges that it’s correct, he said. Although he sells $10,000 to $11,000 a year in reproduction hardware, it’s only used if it matches every detail.
“Jeff is never more excited than when a new car comes in, because there’s a whole new piece of history to dig into. He’s all over it,” said Noel Jennings, the shop’s general manager.
Yergovich heard hoof beats early, purchasing and restoring a 1968 Shelby GT350 convertible in 1975 at age 16. A few years later, a neighbor asked him to restore his car, then another. Since then, he’s amassed a library of photos and detailed notes on how each car is supposed to be put together: things like what each chalk mark means and where it should be, and whether various parts should be finished in zinc dichromate or oil phosphate.
“When we’re done, you can’t tell we touched it. It all looks factory,” Yergovich said. Those details include correct flaws such as paint overspray and a certain amount of orange peel texture in the finish. The shop’s preferred process is to have the bare body shell blasted at Eagle Auto Stripping in Kansas City, Kan., starting with plastic media and finishing with glass beads for surface rust. It’s been a trusted subcontractor for 20 years, he said.
Before each car is deemed ready for paint, Richard Jackson, the shop’s fabricator and metal technician, will spend hours checking and adjusting panel fitment, using a micrometer to check that each hole is of the proper diameter. Each car uses two sets of weatherstripping, one sacrificed during the bare-metal fitment stage, and one for final assembly after paint. It’s a crucial step many shops overlook, he said.
“The worst thing you can do in a restoration is go up to a door that you have to slam,” Yergovich said. “It should feel like a new car. If it doesn’t feel warm and fuzzy like you’re sitting on the showroom floor, you still have work to do.”
Each car is painted in pieces, starting with an application of PPG DP74LF epoxy primer and ending with PPG Deltron DBC basecoat and PPG clearcoats, sourced from longtime supplier ColorVision. For any car refinished from bare metal up, R&A provides a lifetime warranty to the original owner, Yergovich said.
Most restorations clock in at $100,000-plus, and before they drop off their pride-and-joy at R&A, most owners have already been acquainted with Yergovich from his involvement in the hobby as a judge at various shows, Jennings said.
And for concours-level restorations, Yergovich offers to take the newly restored car to its first show with the owner beside him to learn the exhibition process, point out to the judges special features or unusual details that may otherwise be deemed incorrect (because of things such as mid-year changes or a supplier change).
“And if it doesn’t win a gold, I will take it to the next show. As soon as it wins a gold, it’s up to the customer to take it from there.”