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What do you do when your expensive classic car turns out to be run of the mill?

Caveat emptor - buyer beware - should be the first principle of anyone buying a second hand car.

But a classic car mix up in regional Victoria that's left a man $110,000 out of pocket and facing legal bills for failed court appeals seems to have shot that timeless warning full of holes.

Glen Sell from Wodonga in regional Victoria had no reason to doubt the vehicle he had owned for 30 years was an original Ford 1970 XW GTHO Falcon - one of the rarest and most valuable vintage Fords on the market.

The car had a letter from Ford confirming its identity, which had been based on its Vehicle Identification Number.

An inspection by a Melbourne-based car expert as part of Mr Sell's divorce proceedings found the car to be genuine and he listed the vehicle for sale on Gumtree in August of 2013.

And when Lyle Walker travelled to Wodonga to inspect the vehicle later that month, it was in such good nick that he looked it over for about 30 minutes before agreeing to buy the car for $135,000.

This is where the story gets tricky...

While Mr Walker had checked over the documents from Ford and examined the Vehicle Identification Number plates, he did not ask to see a report from the car expert who found it to be a genuine GTHO. 

Instead, he planned to get a friend to come down to Wodonga to view it, but never did, and when he finally took possession of the vehicle after making payments for 12 months, he got an inspection with plans to restore it.


The person who conducted the inspection on the vehicle immediately found about 20 things that were not right with the car. 

The 'Ford 1970 XW GTHO Falcon' was found to instead be a Ford Falcon model worth only $25,000, and Mr Walker immediately sought a refund, which the seller declined.

He took legal action a bid to recoup his losses, but Federal Court judge Robert Brom last week dismissed Mr Walker's second bid to recover the $110,000 lost in the deal. 

"It apparently was not in doubt that both parties were innocent victims of a fraud perpetrated by someone on Mr Sell when he bought the car some 30 years ago from a Mr Paul Ward," he said.

"It is not possible to say who was responsible for that fraud."

A key question in the hearings was whether the car was sold based on the description or by Mr Walker's inspection of the car. 

The court heard the seller had only given his belief the car was genuine, but had based that on the expertise of others. 

A judge had earlier found Mr Walker had also relied on his own inspection of the car before deciding to purchase it and hadn't relied on anything said or written by Mr Sell.

Mr Walker has also been left with a bill of $14,162 for Mr Sell's legal costs. 

Source: theage

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