Don't think many spend more than a working week on fairly complex installs, mines nearly 60-70% complete and I've spent in man hours:

6-8 hours parts and materials (reading reviews, seeking advice & purchasing parts/materials)
4 hours on software customisation inc VFD displays etc
3 hours on centre console fabrication
3 hours on custom acrylic PC enclosure
1.5 hours on custom MDF boot install to house PC enclosure, amps and sub.
est. 1 hour on finishing boot install in matching carpet material
est. 1.5 hours on paint and finishing of centre console
est. 3 hours on wiring loom
est. 2 hours on refining software after install if required

So in hours that's only about 3 and a half working days without any of the right tools and a massive learning curve lol.

As for the brass handle, there's tons of alternatives which IMO would have looked less office draw like, could have even used a push to release popper like you get with modern kitchen units etc and the hinges could have been hidden too.

Did you take time to research the equipment you purchased or the screen options? I spent the majority of my money on the screen as this is the week point in all car pcs!

At the moment my rig is:

Intel Core 2 Duo E5200 2.5Ghz
Zotac Mini-ITX nVida 9300-ITX w/ WiFi
1GB DDR2 PC5300 Memory (only 512MB active to reduce hibernation times)
160GB SATA 2.5" Notebook HDD
M2-ATX-HV DC-DC PSU
Belkin Bluetooth USB Dongle
Globalsat USB GPS
Think Outside Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard (Folds in half, alloy construction)
USB 3G Wireless Broadband Modem (Broadband anywhere!)
LinITX 7" Widescreen TRANSFLECTIVE VGA/Composite with Touchscreen
20x4 VFD (White text on blue)
Dynatron P12G Socket 775 P4 Passive CPU COOLER (Doesn't even need a fan!)
Stainless Steel LED Illuminated Ring Push Button
Dark Tinted Acrylic Case with Light Tinted Acrylic Side Panel/Window
80x80x15mm 17db 21CFM Silent Running Fan (Isn't needed but it's there anyway)
Reverse camera build in to the boot release button (central to car and out of view but provides perfect image of what's behind you!)

I think that's about it so far, will be adding to it shortly though but that's what I've got to get the project running.

As for custom laser cut acrylic and machined alloy parts... that'll come when either tools or someone with the tools arrives! :S

Pics to follow when I find my cables! Place is a mess since I started this LOL.