KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Complaints continue to roll in from classic car owners who say they were taken advantage of by a body shop that took their money and didn’t do the work.
Fox 4 Problem Solver Linda Wagar talked to the shop’s latest victim and tried to get answers from the former owner, who still worked at the shop.
You can mess with a lot of things, but you don’t mess with a classic car. Because if you do, those car owners will talk to Fox 4 News about a body shop called “Sweet Dreamz” that customers say was more like a nightmare.
David Burdick loves all cars, but particularly the classics.
“Some people hunt. Some people fish. I like restoring cars,” Burdick said.
He thought he’d found the car of dreams when he bought this ‘67 Camaro. Hobbled by hip replacement surgery, Burdick knew he’d have to have help restoring it. So he went to Sweet Dreamz body shop on Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City.
“The shop had all the credentials of a custom car restorer,” Burdick said.
The owner, Mike Strickling, promised to have his Camaro ready in 60 days, he just needed $2,000 down.
“It was not like he was asking for something unusual for a small shop,” Burdick explained.
But what was unusual is that when Burdick went to check on his Camaro two months later, he found the doors locked.
“Go by, nobody there. I’m calling him, burning up the phone. No answers, nothing,” he said.
Then he got a call from Chris Cole, the shop’s former owner who still worked there. He told Burdick that Sweet Dreamz body shop was being evicted from the building and he needed to come get his car. Burdick found his car was in worse shape than when he dropped it off.
“I’ve got parts I can’t find,” he said.
Burdick wasn’t the only one upset. Several other men also were in the same predicament, including John Bell, who said he’s out $10,000.
“We got our cars back, but none of us got our money back,” Bell said.
Strickling isn’t answering his phone. And according to Jackson County court records, he has a warrant out for his arrest for missing court on traffic violations. Former owner Cole has troubles of his own; he owes more than $60,000 in federal income taxes and multiple court judgments against him.
Although he says he no longer has anything to do with the body shop, a source tells Fox 4 that Cole continued paying rent for the shop for nearly a year after he sold it to Strickling.
The source said the owner of the property evicted the shop after he found the doors wide open and vagrants living inside.
Burdick said he doesn’t know who to blame, all he knows is he’s out $2,000 and still has a Camaro a long way from being ready to drive. Cole said he’s trying to help customers that were left high and dry when the body shop closed. He’s helped them get their cars back and has even offered to finish restoring them. There are at least two car owners who took him up on that offer.