Legal Files (82)

Monterey Car Week is the closest we get to automotive nirvana. We have grown accustomed to the week’s three major problems: finding acceptable accommodations, finding enough time to do everything we want to do, and getting decent dinner reservations. This year, for the first time, another problem manifested itself — car thieves have discovered Monterey. Four collector cars were stolen during the weekend: two from Mecum, one from Russo and Steele, and one from a bed-and-breakfast parking lot in Pacific Grove. Coincidentally or ominously — we can’t tell which — they were all Chevrolets. A red, restored 1962 Corvette was…

Leasing to Play

Written by October 2013
Auto leasing hit historic highs in the past couple of years and now finances about 27% of new-car sales. Leasing is particularly popular with the luxury brands — 75% to 80% of new Mercedes-Benzes and about 50% of new BMWs are leased. And specialty collector-car leasing companies such as Putnam Leasing and Premier Financial Services have become major players in financing collector-car transactions. J.J. Best Banc & Co., prominent in the field as well, offers traditional financing. But leases in the collector-car market are quite different from those in the new-car market. Different ends Traditional, new-car leases are called “closed…
A Ferrari owner was in deep financial trouble. Business difficulties had left him pretty well broke. Worst of all, he owed the IRS more than $3 million, and an IRS agent was hot on his heels to collect. In need of cash, the owner approached his bank for a loan. Since the IRS had filed liens for the unpaid taxes, the bank required collateral to secure a line of credit. All that was available was the 2005 Ferrari, so the bank took a security interest in it to secure a $200,000 line of credit. The bank also took possession of…
On April 28, Publisher Martin hosted the Round Fendered Volvo Club at his home for a viewing of the movie “Swedish Auto.” A few days later, a club member who drove his Volvo 122 wagon to the affair wrote this interesting account of the demise of his Volvo. “Legal Files” has added comments — with the club member’s permission. I was driving on a one-plus mile stretch of residential road in Portland, OR. I was at the 25 mph speed limit, and a car was about three car lengths behind me. But I saw a car behind him swerving left…
  Last month’s “Legal Files” illustrated how loaning your car to another can wreak havoc at the highest levels. This month, we’ll explore some more mundane situations that can be equally unsatisfying. Let’s start with a pretty common situation — you and your friend enter a rally in your 1957 Porsche Speedster. On the second day, you trade places and your friend drives. While you’re trying to figure out where you took the wrong turn and how to get back on course, your friend gets distracted, misses a turn and crashes into a tree. Fortunately, you both escape injury, but…
Sports car racing driver David Piper (a former F1 driver who lost a leg below the knee in an accident driving a Porsche 917 during the filming of Steve McQueen’s 1971 film “Le Mans”) recently won an important case in The Royal Courts of Justice in London. The high court awarded damages and legal costs likely to be around $175,000 against automotive journalist and racer Mark Hales, who was stunned and angered with the judgment. In his written response posted on the Internet, Hales was quite vocal in his criticisms of the judge. Hales wrote that he will lose his…
Okay, it’s March, but we all know that spring is the real start of the car collecting year. And every new year marks the time for self-improvement resolutions. Here are the top seven for the car collector. I won’t buy a car online without seeing it myself Hands down, the most common complaint I get from clients and readers is that they bought a car long distance and, when it arrived, it didn’t turn out to be anything like what they were expecting. The common scenario is that the car looked great in all the low-resolution photos on the web…
"Jim” thought he had a smoking deal — $3,650,000 for a 1956 Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa. He thought he could easily flip the TR for a quick profit. All he needed was $3,650,000. So, Jim called his stepbrother-in-law, “Bob,” for financial help. Bob thought the TR deal sounded like a good idea, so he contacted his bank, which agreed to loan the $3,650,000 against the Ferrari. According to Bob, Jim advised him to run the transaction through a shell company. The shell company borrowed the $3,650,000 from the bank, and the bank secured the loan with a security interest in…
In the realm of estate planning, 2012 is either a once-in-a-lifetime tax-saving opportunity or the new normal. We won’t know which until after the November 2012 election — and maybe not until next year, after the new Congress has had time to act. Savvy investors aren’t waiting to find out, and they are acting now to take full advantage of today’s opportunities. The main point of interest is the estate and gift tax exemption. It has been rising steadily since 1981, and it now stands at $5 million (inflation-adjusted to $5.12 million) per taxpayer. But the extraordinary factor that is…
Tim Durham (right) arrives at court in Indianapolis in June to hear the verdict in his trial Tim Durham started out as an attorney, then left practice for far greener pastures. Highly ambitious, he reportedly made millions through leveraged buyouts. He was a well-known fixture at collector car auctions. Arriving on his private jet — and spending freely — he rapidly amassed a significant collection that included Duesenbergs, Ferraris and a Bugatti Veyron. Durham also owned 75% of Car Collector magazine, and his financial problems were certainly one of the reasons that Car Collector recently folded. This June, it took…