Official UK Porsche dealer, Porsche Centre Bolton has lost a court battle with the aggrieved would-be buyer of a Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 who was gazumped by the dealership following confirmation of order.
Portrayed in a slightly frantic local press report as a duped and dispossessed pensioner (the buyer may not be entirely delighted about this), local enthusiast and classic car restorer Kevin Hughes (67) put a £10,000 deposit down on a 997 GT3 RS 4.0 back in March 2011 and was emailed by the sales department to say “I can confirm that you will get the first one from Porsche Centre Bolton if we get one, which I am very confident that we will”.
Some time later, OPC Bolton told Mr Hughes that they had actually not received any 4-litres, and returned his deposit. When Mr Hughes discovered that they had in fact been allocated a 4-litre RS but had secretly sold it to someone else, the shit hit the fan and Hughes commenced proceedings against OPC Bolton’s owners, Pendragon Sabre Ltd.
The deposit was paid in March 2011, but the case has only just come to court. This tells you that the legal costs are not insignificant. The court ruled that OPC Bolton had lied, found in favour of Hughes and awarded him £35,000 in damages, which was said to be the current value of a RHD 4-litre minus the original cost new. They also awarded costs, so Pendragon will have to pay Hughes’ legal bills as well as its own.
“Plain as a pikestaff” is how the judge described the binding contract between Mr Hughes and OPC Bolton. By paying a deposit up front, Kevin Hughes had done more than just expressed a passing interest and the sales team had promised him the first car in writing. The secret sale behind Hughes’ back of the one car which the dealership received was therefore a clear breach of contract, according to the judge.
Given that RHD 4-litres are fetching far more than £170k to collectors, I think Pendragon has got away lightly. Thanks to a decade valuing cars for a living and now running my UK Porsche insurance valuations service, I get called in to legal disputes as an expert every once in a while. Hughes’ legal team should have googled a values expert for this one: their client might be a hundred grand better off now.
An old friend of mine works at OPC Bolton. I’m sure there are two sides to the story – maybe one day I will hear the rival viewpoint – but it seems to have looked pretty cut and dried to the judge.