Restoring GTO - Not As Planned - Pontiac GTO Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-16-2009, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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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!
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-16-2009, 02:31 PM
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I would try legal action. The car was mis-represented. Also, no matter how much more $$ you sink into it, it will never be worth the 40k due to its highly suspect pedigree. It could even be a stolen could restore it, and then have it seized by law enforcement. It makes me sick to hear stories like this....good luck.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-16-2009, 02:37 PM
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If you aren't gonna be satisfied with a minted out "clone"...I would see what the parts are worth and might sell to regain lost money. It might pay a guy with little experience in the old car game, to bring a knowledgeable mech/bodyman with you to check out future purchases. This is a great-fun-expensive-easy to get screwed on hobby. You will find people at both ends of the honesty scale in it. That said, I bet most of the members here have had problems along these lines. Check your legal solutions was probably sold as is. THE PARTS may help recoupe your losses. GOOD LUCK, Eric In N.Y. it is not legal to "tag" an auto. Again, Check with your State legal bureau......

Last edited by Eric Animal; 09-16-2009 at 02:40 PM. Reason: forgot stuff
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-16-2009, 04:40 PM
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definately find some way to get your money back from that bastard.confront him in person if you have to.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-16-2009, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. I think I will take him to court for the 14k. He had the audacity to say that 'people like me' are everything that's wrong with this hobby. Imagine that. Can't wait to see him in court.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-17-2009, 09:24 AM
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Even tho in most states a used car sale, "as is" is implied even if it is not written on the contract and is enforceable. Which in most cases the buyer has no recourse. However, in this case where the vehicle was completely misrepresented, you definitely have a case. It is so important to do your homework b/4 purchasing a vehicle. Knowing how to decode everything is a must so you know exacty what you're getting. Seeing the vehicle b/4 purchase is an absolute must. That's why I would "almost" never buy a car online. $10K for the initial purchase is not chump change. That's alot of money for most of us. You may want to talk to the guy and tell him what your plans are. Although, even if he agree's to reimburse you the $10k, your're still out the xtra $4k. The only way to get that back would be thru the courts. If you do win the case, and we're all pulling for ya, I'm sure the courts will make you put the car back in the condition in which you bought it. What is that going to cost you to reassemble it? I would halt any restoration and try to recover as much money as you can. Even if you kept it and did a full restore, when it came time to sell, would you really want to go thru the hassle of telling the potential buyer of all the misrepresented data. You would be hard pressed to sell it unless you practically gave it away. What was done is down right illegal. It wouldn't even be considered a clone. In this hobby, crap like this happens everyday. Unfortunately, you just happened to get caught up in it. Good luck. We all back you 100% If you want, let us know how it all turns out.........
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-17-2009, 11:51 AM
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That really put your hard earned money into something that you thought would bring you joy and some guy screws it up.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-18-2009, 02:14 PM
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whats his name so I can avoid dealing with this jacka**
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-18-2009, 06:24 PM
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Switching VIN tags on a car is a FEDERAL CRIME. Doesn't matter what state the car came from or is in now, it is a federal case. As a heads up, ANY civil case is NOT enforceable. You may win the case and have a judgment against him but he is NOT required to pay you!! Isn't that a load of [email protected] !! You would still need to put liens against everything he owns and IF and WHEN he decides to sell them, you may get your money. This is a lose-lose situation for you. Some states, namely Texas, do still allow a "re-body" that lets the owner of 2 cars build 1 out of them and use the tags from either, especially if one is a "lost title" car. The owner must keep all documentation to show what he did for future reference. It doesn't sound like he has that to go with your car. If it were me (and it was once), I would retain a lawyer in the sellers hometown to pay him a visit and bring up the Federal crime issue and see what he can get for you. Beyond that, you are pretty much screwed. If you sell the car or body knowing what you know, you become part of the crime trail. If you do decide to sell the parts to recoup what you can, don't sell that body unless it can be verified as a re-body, with the proper documentation to prove it.
My heart goes out to you. I bought a 67 Camaro on eBay that had the VINs switched in TX and even thou the National Insurance registry and my state reluctantly admitted they had to honor the TX title and license the car, it was too much for me to live with and I resold it at a significant loss.

1967 GTO; Gulf Turquoise on Black, 4 speed, buckets SOLD
1967 Camaro ss/rs 350
1966 Chevelle SS 396
1966 Chevelle Malibu
1970 Chevelle SS 396
1962 Impala SS
1952 Chev 2 ton flat bed
1938 Chev coupe
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-18-2009, 09:04 PM
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Personally, I would just call the Feds in on this one and let them sort through the legalities of where the number plate was changed and whether it was a legal job or not. If they find it is illegal then you have pretty good evidence to win a case against them for your money. I doubt that any judge will side with them after they have been prosecuted for changing id plates.
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