Volkswagen Restoration Services
In 2016 I embarked on my well documented (see my blog articles) adventure south of the border to Tijuana Mexico to repaint my 1982 VW Vanagon Westfalia. Since then I have helped many others to get their Vans painted in Tijuana through my concierge service. An interesting thing happened though. After publicizing where to go, and how to do it, in addition to the customers who hired me to assist them through the process, hundreds of others flocked to Los Panchos for paint jobs on their own, following the advice I published on this site. Quickly supply and demand caused the price for a paint job at Los Panchos to sky rocket from the approximately $2000 I paid to have my first van done to over $6000 on average as of 2020. I have even heard some quoted over $10,000 at Los Panchos! Insane! It wasn't long before it simply didn't make sense anymore for me to recommend folks drive their Vans to Tijuana and pay those high prices. Fast forward a few years and I have now relocated to beautiful La Paz, Mexico, at the southern tip of Baja where my passion for restoring Volkswagens has continued unabated. I have spent the last couple of years building relationships here in town, with the best VW mechanics, upholsterers, and my paint shop. Far from the hysteria I created in Tijuana, prices here remain very low and it now is cost effective for me to offer my services for folks looking to restore their Volkswagens again.
Over the years my builds have been featured in Magazines, Youtube videos with over 1 million views, and have won best in show at car shows. I love taking tired old Vans and giving them a second life. In addition to paint and bodywork I can now assist with Mechanical overhauls, from complete suspension rebuilds, VW engine rebuilds, Brakes, interior upholstery, and even transmissions.
Why should I restore my Van in Mexico?
The answer is simple. Price. The cost of labor is dramatically less in Mexico. This translates to restoration costs that are often half what a comparable restoration might cost in the states. A typical comparable paint job in the US or Canada with body work and rust repair will easily run you 10-15,000 dollars.
A basic paint job with minor bodywork and rust repair starts at $4000 usd (plus the cost of window and body rubber, this must be transported down from the states with your Van as these are not available in Mexico). More complex jobs, more bodywork, rust, etc will increase the cost. A complete interior, with carpeting, front seats and rear bench seat reupholstered and door panels, starts at $2000. Mechanical work please let me know what you'd like to have done and I can get you an estimate.
Frequently Asked Questions
how do i get my vehicle to La Paz?
There are two options, you can drive your vehicle from the US to La Paz through Baja (an epic road trip), or drive your car to Tijuana and ship it to us via truck (we can assist with this). We have gotten quotes of around $400 each way for truck transportation. You could also ship it down, and then drive it back, flying into La Paz or Cabo San Lucas is very easy.
What are payment terms?
50% is required at vehicle drop off and the remainder is due at pickup. Due to the nature of business in Mexico where cash is king (our paint shop does not accept credit cards, nor do any of our other vendors), we ask for all payments to be made in cash.
Can you supply parts cheaper in mexico than in the uS?
No. In general most parts need to be imported from the United States and thus are much more expensive and difficult to get in Mexico than in the US. This is especially true for Vanagons which were never sold here. Your savings comes from the much lower cost of Labor here in Mexico, any parts that you'd like installed should be brought down with you. In an emergency where parts may be needed, they can be shipped to La Paz from the states via DHL, though there is often the need to use a customs broker, and pay import taxes (customs brokers fees plus 16% typically). Its a pain, so plan ahead and bring your own parts.
I have a Pop top tent, and some parts id like installed on my van, can they be installed?
Yes, between the paint shop, my upholstery shop, and my good friends at Geraldos VW's we can install just about anything for you for an additional cost. You will save a lot of money on labor. The parts, you should bring yourself (see above)
I would like to have my camper painted inside and out, can that be done?
Yes, although a few things you should keep in mind. Disassembling and reassembling a Westfalia camper interior is a time consuming process, having us remove it, paint the inside of your vehicle, and then reinstall it can be done, but it will increase the cost of the service.
Can I change the color of my Van?
Yes, however based on my experience having painted many vehicles now, I can tell you that the best results will be had when you keep your Van the stock color. Inevitably with use, your van will get chips and dings, and you dont want to see a different color underneath when that happens. Also, it is nearly impossible to paint every nook and crevice of a van to change the color, for example behind the dash, without tearing the van down to a bare shell (think lots of time and $$$) so there will always inevitably be little spots that you see that were the old color. If your willing to live with those caveats, then go for it! I have! But that being said, the best results will be had by keeping with your stock color. There are things we can do to make it more interesting, for example adding more metallic flake to the paint to make it pop and glisten more.
What is the turn around time from drop off?
All depends on the scope of the work, however for a basic paint job and minor rust and or bodywork the typical turnaround time is 8 weeks. More complex jobs, mechanical work, upholstery, etc may require more time.
Is my vehicle safe? Am I?
La Paz is one of the safest cities in Mexico and enjoys one of the highest standards of living. Your vehicle is absolutely safe and secure when it is here as are you!
Can I fly to or from La Paz?
La Paz is easily and very cheaply accessible via Tijuana with flights to be had often for $100 or less each way. Coming to or from San Diego is super easy via CBX (Cross Border Express) which allows you to access the Tijuana Airport from San Diego. Direct flights from the US can be had to Cabo San Lucas easily and inexpensively from many destinations. Cabo is approximately 2 hours from La Paz. Taxi service can be arranged and costs $50 to $75 each way.
I'd like to schedule to get my van to you, whats the next step?
In order to give your van the attention it deserves, and my full attention, I am limiting the number of Vans I am working with at any particular time. When we have agreed on a date for your drop off, I require a $250 non refundable deposit (this amount will be deducted from the full cost of the work) in order to guarantee you a spot on my calendar. This means I am setting aside this time for you and your van, and not double booking. This also means that if you later change your schedule, I will not have anything scheduled for your slot, so in order to help respect my time, I ask for a small deposit. If you pull out after the deposit is made, it will be forfeited.
Do i need to insure my vehicle when its in mexico
id like to stay in La paz during the restoration, what do you recommend
Your best bet if you'd like to stay here is to book a monthly rental through AirBnb. There are lots and lots of options for every budget, from very affordable to fancy and everything in between. I would recommend a central location if your budget allows so you can walk around the city.
Are there rental Car options?
Rental cars in La Paz are available, however they are much more expensive than in the states, due mainly to liability insurance. I do offer my 1993 Mexican Beetle to those that want an authentic experience, it's definitely nothing fancy, but it's great for getting around town and short trips. Its also probably less than a quarter what a monthly rental would cost you at only $250 a month.