If you’re an owner of a classic car or restore classic cars, be on the lookout for unscrupulous restoration companies. Here’s an example of a restoration gone wrong that ended up costing the owner millions of dollars.

According to an article from IndyStar, the ex-CEO of Angie’s list, Bill Oesterle, recently won a lawsuit against a former mechanic. In this case, Oesterle was restoring classic cars and decided to work with a boutique mechanic, which is someone who does work on older vehicles. This mechanic performed work on the vehicles and also helped him locate others to purchase. Well as it turns out, over the course of a couple of years, Oesterle was overcharged for service work on multiple rare vehicles, and some of the vehicles were misrepresented. 

Oesterle paid $50,000 for what he thought was a very rare Austin Healey 100M sports car as a coveted factory model that just needed some assembly. Come to find out, the vehicle that was purchased was not the original factory model that the alleged mechanic had promised. The mechanic told Oesterle the color, and the cost for assembly at $10,000, but sent an invoice for $130,000. But that wasn’t even the worst. In another instance, Oesterle purchased another classic car for $16,000 and was told the work would be done in two years and cost $200,000. Four years later, the job still isn’t done, but Oeseterle was left with bills totaling over a million dollars. 

What’s the takeaway?

If you’re going to hire someone to restore your vehicle, make sure to research the company or the person beforehand. Even if you did your due diligence in the beginning, due diligence is an ongoing process. If the numbers aren’t adding up, say something as soon as possible. 

If you’re a mechanic, make sure you’re managing your restorations properly. The mechanic in this case will have to pay back $7.2 million because of treble damages. Treble damages mean that if you’ve caused damage through fraud, you have to pay back three times what you took in. Treble damage statutes are found in many states, but not all.

So make sure if you’re a mechanic that you’re managing your restorations properly, and if you’re a vehicle owner, make sure you get regular updates. Do your due diligence on the company not only in the beginning but throughout the restoration process.

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