A landmark court ruling has put the onus firmly on would-be buyers to confirm a car’s provenance, after three judges overturned an earlier ruling that saw Stanley Mann being sued by a Mrs Mercedes Travis Brewer over a 1930 Bentley Speed Six.
Mrs Brewer claimed the dealer said the car had an original Speed Six engine but she argued that was not the case. She said other parts of the car weren’t original and so the Bentley could not be considered a Speed Six model.
In the original case – that was reported by Classic Car Weekly in October 2010 – Mrs Brewer rejected the car and sued the dealer, Stanley Mann, for the return of her deposit as well as £95,000 in finance charges, 15 months after buying the car.
Mr Mann said he had described the engine as being to Speed Six specification and that the chassis, which was partly original and was stamped with the original number, was an original Speed Six type. The judge found against Mr Mann, who then took the case to the Court of Appeal where the most recent – and most significant – judgement was made.
Three judges overturned the findings from the original case and their ruling means that buyers will be responsible for checking if a car is as advertised or whether it has been upgraded.
This would especially apply to any cars that were fitted with a choice of engines, such as Escorts, Capris and Minis. It acknowledges that the way in which a car is described in an advertisement might be an opinion rather than fact, which may not be unreasonable as cars get older and new or replacement parts are fitted to it over the years.
Now buyers nees to ensure that, say, a MkI Escort RS2000 really is an RS, rather than a fully-rebuilt 1100 DeLuxe – and if the car is advertised as an RS2000, just how much of it really is RS. And pay accordingly.