This story is courtesy of our sister station WATE in Knoxville, TN.
KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Car repairs are inevitable necessities for most people, but if you own a classic car, finding a mechanic is not always easy. A Knoxville man thought he had found the right guy to work on his old Mercedes in early 2014, but what is a reasonable amount of time to get the job done?
Ryan McElveen took his 47-year-old import to an independent shop, paid two thirds of the bill up front and was told it would be repaired within a month or two. A year and a half later, he’s still waiting to drive his car home.
He bought the 1968 Mercedes 250SL, his dream car, in March 2013. However, he hasn’t seen it in a year and a half. He took it in February 2014 to Eurohaus Motorsports in West Knoxville to have the engine rebuilt.
He gave the shop owner $3,000 up front. McElveen says the remaining $1,500 is due when the job is done. He has the money ready to pay for the work, but after 18 months, the car isn’t ready.
McElveen has lost confidence in his mechanic and wants the vehicle.
“Ive asked him to give me my property back in what ever state he wants to give it back in. I’ll take it back at all of its pieces at this point,” he said.
Robert Berry is the owner of Eurohaus Motorsports. When WATE 6 On Your Side visited, the Mercedes was up on a rack, and the motor out of the car.
“As I explained to Ryan, you can’t just leave his car on that lift and wait for parts. You have to take other jobs in to make sure everything goes,” said Berry.
We asked if a year and a half is a reasonable amount of time to get the work done.
“If I worked on it every day and had parts, no it’s not a reasonable amount. I’ve had complications,” Berry replied.
Berry says he was injured for a while last year and couldn’t work on McElveen’s car. He says getting parts for the old Mercedes took time, plus there were “everyday situations” at the shop.
“You know, I’ve got two guys here working. We do the best we can do. It’s not new stuff. Everything we work on, we run into problems,” said Berry.
The Mercedes’ engine is completely torn down, but Berry says he has added new rings and gaskets.
“I’m taking a loss here, but I’m also doing a quality job,” he said.
“Because I just didn’t tell him,” he answered. “Because I hadn’t planned on it taking a year or a year and a half.”
McElveen turned to Facebook in June asking anyone if he was the only customer facing problems with Robert Berry. He discovered others had similar experiences. Several court cases have been filed against Robert Berry, the latest filed on June 1. Many are very similar to McElveen’s story.
That was almost two weeks ago.
“I have not heard from him in the last 12 days, no word,” said McElveen.
“I’m here helping the customer. Sure, it’s taken me longer that it should have. That’s just the way the chips fall,” he said.
McElveen is now taking Berry to court.
“I want my car back. That’s all I’ve ever wanted was my car back,” said McElveen.
Berry said on Monday that he’s almost finished with McElveen’s car and is hoping to have it done by the time he’s due in court on Wednesday. Berry reiterated that he tries to be fair to all of his customers.