Restoring GTO - Not As Planned
I could use some advice from you guys. I never restored a car before, am not rich and like many of you, have a love for vintage muscle cars.
Recently, I bought a Verdoro green '68 GTO (white-topped) convertible online for 10K. It needs a lot of work, but has many original GTO parts like a #'s matching engine, trans, carb (possibly rear) so I had it delivered and started a frame-off restore. The specific details are involved, so to make a long story short it turns out the car body (and possibly everything else) is not the one the vin plate and seller say it should be.
Cliff (my restoration guy who has 35 years experience) and I noticed the original paint is yellow, different than the PHS document states. The original firewall is not for a/c like the seller and PHS say (he said he took the a/c out, but it obviously never came with that car). The vin plate has been riveted to the cowl from the bottom up with newer rivets, rather than from the top down like they did from the factory. The vin plate is from a '68 GTO convertible, but considering the circumstances including a missing trim tag, it is definitely not from this car.
Now the dilemma. The GTO is completely disassembled in the restorer's garage. I have 14K invested (including the initial 10K) into the car, with an estimate of 25K or more to restore it (frame shot, car needs a ton of work, and the restorer is charging $50 hr). Going into this, I was comfortable with spending the money to restore it even though it's all I have, because I knew that car finished is beautiful and easily worth 40k. But now I'm having second thoughts about how to proceed because authenticity and honesty are important to me. I made my concerns known to the seller, who the first day I contacted him got scared and agreed in an email to refund my money. But being the scoundrel he is, soon reverted to his scumbag ways and denied everything, saying the car came to him that way.
My choices are 1.) Go through with the restore and realize my dream car, but know the vin # is not for that GTO and the body could even be from a Lemans. 2.) Go to another state where the seller is located and file in civil court to try to get my money back. To do that, I may lose the car's body as it is currently braced on horses and I would need to move everything from the restorer's garage to mine. Or 3.) Quit now, try civil court and if I don't succeed, take a 10k loss and sell as parts. I would eventually get my authentic GTO as I learned a lot from this. Any suggestions or opinions out there will be appreciated. Thanks!