In the Hemmings Daily Blog a post was published warning Sellers of Cloned Muscle Cars of the consequences of not disclosing the fact that the car they are selling is a “clone” as opposed to the “real thing“.
Although the post is dated 2012, with the demise of production in Australia by General Motors and Ford, it is a very timely warning to potential Buyers of Australian Muscle Cars and to those unscrupulous sellers of cloned or re-birthed classic vehicles.
1969 Ford Falcon XW GT, not the car in question.
In 2011, Judge Clive Wall Q.C. in the District Court of Queensland, ordered Joanne and Geoff De Rome to pay Au$108,394.04, plus costs, to Daniel Sammut, a Sydney-based graphic designer who bought (what was advertised as) a 1969 Ford Falcon XW GT from Mr and Mrs De Rome. Mr Sammut, who apparently was unable to sell the Falcon or bought it back when it was revealed to be a fake, held on to the car and sued the De Romes for breach of contract,
According to the judgement, the De Romes had purchased the car in July 2006 for Au$18,000. In September/October 2007 they advertised it for sale as a matching numbers all-original Falcon XW GT for Au$143,000.
On 1 October 2007, Mr Sammut, who wanted to purchase a genuine 1969 GT XW Ford Falcon, called Mrs De Rome and asked her, “Is it the real thing? Is it a genuine GT?” She said, “Yes, it is.” He asked her if the numbers were matching. She said, “Yes.”
He then asked for further details and Mrs De Rome sent him an email on the same day containing detail of the vehicle.
Mr Sammut checked with the Ford Motor Company at Broadmeadows and confirmed the numbers. He also made a finance check and confirmed that there was no money owing to
anyone on the vehicle.
Mr Sammut flew to inspect the Falcon in person (twice; the second time with a friend who was a panel beater to inspect the car for rust), and again checked the Falcon’s VIN against Ford Australia’s records to make sure it was a legitimate car. Once the VIN was confirmed, he negotiated a sale price of Au$90,000 with the De Romes and had the car towed back to Sydney.
In 2009, when Mr Sammut attempted to sell the car, it came to light that the Falcon was not a genuine GT XW 1969 Ford Falcon. According to evidence given by an expert witness the engine number was genuine but had been put on the vehicle. The number didn’t belong to the vehicle. The VIN also did not belong to the vehicle.
According to another expert witness, X-ray examination of the firewall showed that the area around the VIN tag had been cut and welded back together. The evidence was that the vehicle has been re-birthed from a 1970 model XY Falcon, with numbers obtained from a 1969 XW GT vehicle.
The worth of such a vehicle, at the time, was about one-seventh of the value of a genuine vehicle. According to the expert witnesses, which testimony was accepted by the Judge, a non-GT Falcon XW was worth between Au$10,000 and Au$15,000, compared to the then current value of a Falcon XW GT, about Au$65,000 to Au$70,000.
Current prices being asked for genuine Falcon XW GTs apear to be between Au$40,000 to Au$85,000. GTHOs are priced in the stratosphere and standard XW Falcon 500s are being sold for around Au$20,000, with Utes priced less and Fairmonts more.
The Judge determined that it was likely that the De Romes didn’t know the car was a clone. But they were still held liable.
The De Romes then appealed and the case was set to be heard in the Court of Appeal in Brisbane, however, there was only 30 seconds of action before the appeal was withdrawn and dismissed and everyone left.
This case was one of, if not, the first involving the sale of cloned or re-birthed vehicles. The incidences of this practice can only be expected to increase, so the lesson to be learned to potential buyers of vehicles advertised as “Genuine“, “Authentic” or “Numbers Matching” muscle cars or classic cars, is BE VERY CAREFUL.
As I recommend with the purchase of ANY used vehicle, ALWAYS have a professional Pre-purchase inspection done on the car before giving the Seller any money. If the seller doesn’t want, or allow, you to have such an inspection, I would suggest simply walking away and not looking back, even if the Seller offers you a discount for buying without the inspection!
As always, I would ask if you can, please donate to CFWA.
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Until next time. Michael
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