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We are considered to be a premier firm for legal advice and resolving disputes involving vintage cars as well as rare, collector and classic vehicles.
With unsurpassed expertise of over 30 years, we have developed a leading reputation for resolving claims involving vintage and classic car sales, modification, and restoration.
Talk to Us About Buying and Selling Classic Cars
We advise private clients, collectors, and dealers across the full spectrum of legal issues such as civil fraud, misrepresentation, negligence, breach of contract, breach of statutory duty, mis selling and consumer protection regulations.
These cases and claims arise from circumstances such as title and ownership disputes, provenance, fake service history, poor and dangerous condition, misleading advertising, identity disputes, price and restoration both in the UK and internationally.
We boast an enviable case portfolio involving some of the rarest and valuable motor cars from across the 20th Century, including ex-racing and rally cars, E-Type Jaguar, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz.
With a lifetime of experience in and around the industry, we know the characteristics of the vehicles and the tricks of the trade inside out.
For a case review and advice
Book a Consultation with the Classic Car Lawyer
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Historic and Classic car purchase disputes
Buying a vehicle which is 5 years old can be risky but that’s nothing compared to a vintage or classic car which could be 20 or 120 years old.
For most customers, assessing satisfactory quality and fitness for purpose of rare, unique, and antique vehicles is, unlike modern and volume brands, a matter of experience and simple like for like comparison. While it is true that some disputes arise out of unrealistic customer expectations regarding performance, handling, reliability and idiosyncrasies of a 50-year-old E-Type vis a vie a 2-year-old F-Type or a Mercedes 230 SL (W113) compared to an SL (R231); these are rare.
By far the more common problems are bodged or poor repairs and disguised problem areas such as: chassis corrosion, rusted inner wings, outriggers and sills, or covered up underlying engine and gearbox issues, or defective or water damaged wiring and electrics.
The limited availability and cost of replacement spare parts leads to dealers and repairers taking short cuts, leaving the car buyer an expensive problem.
Purchase of a restored car
There is growing trend in the classic and sports car industry where the dealer exposes a then unrestored car for sale and then upsells it or offers to supply it restored.
This creates a potential risk in paying the dealer the full amount for the restored classic car on trust that it delivers the finished article on time and on budget or at all.
The problems often start from the outset with the failure to properly describe the scope of the works to be undertaken. This leads to either the restorer carrying out more it bargained for and trying to charge more for it or cutting corners to get the job done on budget. There is of course the risk that nothing gets done at all!
There is also the danger that the company goes bust and the buyer ends up with nothing.
There are some cars which have a twin, that is to say there are two similar vehicles with the same registration number and/or VIN or chassis number: a clone.
This can occur in a number of ways, for example:
In the case of historic racing cars, it may be that the original car was re-shelled or had a chassis replacement because of an accident. Rather than dispose of the damaged body shell or chassis, it and the chassis number is sold on and another vehicle built from it and registered with the same ID.
Unscrupulous dealers and individuals will buy written off, damaged or entirely deteriorated cars from abroad; VIN and chassis numbers can be removed from one vehicle and applied to another with relative ease, so the VIN tags, chassis plates, logbook and provenance are bought and applied to a similar stolen car.
These circumstances can occur in conjunction with identity disputes but also when a car is claimed to be owned by more than one party.
It may be the case that the vehicle seller bought the car under a hire purchase or asset finance agreement which they failed to disclose to the innocent buyer,
When the seller defaults on the agreement the finance company take measures to repossess the car.
There have also been cases where the original classic car owner gave the vehicle to a dealer on a sale or return basis; the intention being to sell the car and pay the owner the sale proceeds less a commission. However, unscrupulous dealers have been known to keep the proceeds leading a dispute between the owner and buyer.
Similar situations can arise where the motor car is left with a repairer for modification or restoration and is sold by them without permission of the owner.
Auction sale and purchase
Usually, the Auction house acts as an agent for the owner of the classic vehicle and the auction disclaims the accuracy of the catalogue description. This would make any dispute about the motor car to be between the buyer and the vendor and not the auction, although there are exceptions.
Price and value
Under normal circumstances, a car is exposed for sale inviting the prospective buyer to make an offer for it and the seller to accept it. In this instance it is difficult to claim that the buyer has paid over the top for the vehicle.
With classic, rare and collector car sales, sometimes the buyer is advised by the dealer or a third party as to the current and future value. If this advice is relied on by the buyer and that advice is found to be wrong, a claim may arise.
Contact The Classic Car Lawyer for First Free Legal Advice