There’s a substantial difference in body shops out there, and in many cases it’s right in the name itself. What can make them different is the word “restoration.”
When we have an accident and need a body repair, most body shops can provide good, professional services at a reasonable cost, with services that most insurance companies are accustomed to using. The process is usually the same – an estimate is generated, work begins, parts come in and are attached, body work is completed, and the paint is applied. The entire process is completed as fast as possible, and your car is back in your hands relatively quickly, so you can back to your normal routine.
Restoration work is usually applied to classic or show cars, and the repair process is quite different. Much more time is required, as part of the process is to discover exactly what caused the damage, and how deep it goes. Rust may need treatment, and any lack of metal due to rust may require replacement. It’s not uncommon to find that entire body panels or even full “clips” need to be grafted on from another donor car. Custom touches might be added, taking even more time. And finally, paint is applied, usually with many more coats of both paint, clear, and even a ceramic coating. It’s a much more meticulous, time-consuming process, and not well-suited to the average collision repair. It can also be much more expensive, although costs are usually discussed at the beginning of any project, and along the way as the project progresses.
Each kind of shop can do the work, but you should know what your shop is most comfortable doing, and what kind of costs you are comfortable paying. Knowing the difference might help you get your car back in the time window, and cost, that you expect.