Other States Sniping at Montana’s Magic Bullet

“Legal Files” has written several times about various techniques that collectors employ to avoid paying sales/use taxes on their collector cars. It’s a big deal, as the sales/use tax rates are typically 6% to 10% of the purchase price of the car.

One of the common techniques, which our office uses with many of our clients, is to form a Montana LLC (limited liability company) to serve as the owner of the collector cars. Under Read More

Was this Mercedes War Booty?

In late March, Frans van Haren and Tony Paalman, Dutch car collectors and business partners, put their 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Roadster on display at the Techno Classica car show in Essen, Germany.

The two men had bought the car, Lot 147, for $3,767,500, including buyer’s premium, at RM Auctions’ 2011 sale in Monterey, CA.

Life was good — until the German police, executing a warrant issued by a local court, seized the 500K on the basis that it had Read More

The FBI Crashes an F50—The Sequel

Legal Files previously reported about an incident where FBI agents crashed a Ferrari F50 that they had seized (SCM February 2010, p. 26). As amazing as that scene was, the same F50 has been in the news again, and now we know the rest of story.

The F50 was introduced in 1995. At 513 horsepower and 2,976 pounds, it represented the latest and greatest of the Ferrari supercars. Priced at around $500,000, Ferrari manufactured only 349 cars—one Read More

Tim Durham: From Rags to Riches to Ripoff?

He is accused of using over $200m of investor funds to support a lavish lifestyle, including a 70-plus car collection

For the past few years, Tim Durham 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 looked like a real rags-to-riches story. He was the product of small-town Indiana beginnings, but he had Read More

Special Tax-Planning Window for Car Collectors

2010 was a difficult year for tax planning. The federal estate and generation-skipping taxes were repealed, but the gift tax exemption was stuck at $1m to keep people from taking too much advantage.

Plus, there was talk all year long about a retroactive reimposition of both taxes. We saw an epic battle over the continuation of the Bush Tax Cuts, which morphed into a battle over the Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthy–even though no one Read More

Plan Ahead Before Bidding

You may avoid paying sales tax if you ship the car by common carrier to a non-sales-tax state

“Legal Files” had a great time at the Scottsdale, AZ, kick-start to the 2011 auction season. Auctions are a popular place to buy your collector car. But to ensure that you are as happy when you get the car in your garage as you were when you were bidding, there Read More

Long-distance Car Deals Can Burn Money

Internet buyers think that when the car doesn’t meet their fantasy image they can return it for a full refund, just like sale pants at Nordstrom’s

1940 Ford Deluxe Convertible. Just redone by a well-known local shop. Beautifully restored with no expense spared. All aspects are correct and highly-detailed. Undercarriage immaculate, etc., etc. $58,950.

Sound pretty nice? The buyer thought so when he saw this ad in an Internet listing, so he called the dealer, who Read More

Who Pays When a Mechanic Crashes your Car?

It’s not a good day when your mechanic calls and says, “Uh, I’m not sure how to say this, but I had a little accident with your car.” It’s even worse when your car is a 2006 Ford GT Heritage that had been modified to a “Twin Turbo.” (On the Internet, some claim the value of cars like this can exceed $250,000.)

This Ford GT had some running problems that were threatening the owner’s participation in an upcoming Ford Read More

A McLaren F1’s Rise from the Ashes

In many cases, insurance adjusters say that all they are required to do is fix the damaged parts, which can create a non-matching Frankenstein car

Pictures of a McLaren F1 that suffered an engine fire were all over the Internet last year. It was an ugly sight—and saddened every car collector who saw it. “Legal Files” is pleased to report that the F1 was saved. In fact, the owner and I just returned from a Read More

The Legal Battle over John O’Quinn’s Million-Dollar Cars

He paid world-record prices for some of the world’s rarest automobiles, and he often bought several high-end cars in a single weekend

Here’s a car story that has all the ingredients of a soap opera:  A billionaire dies in a car crash, and his longtime girlfriend is left out of his will. He owned hundreds of cars worth millions of dollars—and owed millions of dollars. To cap it off, all this turns into a high-stakes Read More