UPDATE: Several months after this story was published on March 26, 2020, a California judge set aside the $192,594 judgment that was the basis for the lawsuit reported here. The judge dismissed Gregory Johnson’s lawsuit for lack of standing, in part, because he did not personally own the Porsche in question. On Aug. 26, 2020, Johnson discontinued the lawsuit he had filed in Westchester Supreme Court, in which he had asked the court to enforce the California judgment.
John R. Fuchs, the attorney for car dealer Mark Starr said in a Jan. 9, 2021 email that Johnson has not pursued the matter any further “because he is unable to prove his claims.”
An Arizona rare car collector claims that a Mount Kisco vintage sports car dealer who purportedly sold him a coveted Porsche actually swindled him into buying a junkyard heap.
Gregory Johnson of Cave Creek, Arizona, sued Hunting Ridge Motors Inc. and owner Mark Starr on March 12 in Westchester Supreme Court for $192,584.
Johnson thought he was getting a 1972 Porsche 911 RS Carrera Tribute, but the car he got, he claims, was “nothing more than a severely rusted, damaged-repaired, run-of-the-mill Porsche with a worn out 911 E engine made up of several mix and match parts – essentially, a junkyard find.”
“I stand by the cars we sell,” Starr said, in response to the lawsuit.
He said he bought the car from legendary racecar driver Dick Barbour and he based his advertisement on the description that Barbour used for an ad posted on Lionseek.com.
The Porsche was restored by Stoddard Porsche, a parts supplier that specializes in authentic Porsche equipment, near Cleveland, Ohio.
Starr said the Tribute was inspected by Rennwerke Porsche, a repair shop in Elmsford that also did some extra work on the car for Johnson.
Johnson depicts himself as avid collector of classic cars who seeks out rare, unique finds.
Starr also is an aficionado of fast, sleek, expensive sports cars. He ran Lotus dealerships in Port Chester and Greenwich, Connecticut, according to a 2006 New York Times story, and he was once the largest Lotus dealer in the world, according to the Hunting Ridge website.
Now his passion “lies with the unearthing, restoration and marketing of vintage sport and race cars,” according to the website.
Hunting Ridge posted an ad for the 1972 Tribute in 2015. It said “Porsche RS Lightweights have recently sold for in excess of $1.4 million.”
“This car,” the ad stated, “can be driven and enjoyed for considerably less.”
The asking price was $139,000.
Tributes are replicas, based on similar models that are stripped down to the chassis and rebuilt to the same specifications as the original, using Porsche parts or same-period equipment.
The car in question began as a 1972 911 T, according to the description. The chassis was rust-free and never damaged. The engine and transmission were built by Franz Blam Racing in Tucker, Georgia.
The “genuine Sekurit glass” was flawless. The ducktail rear spoiler and the bumpers were from the correct time period. A 1973 911S mechanical fuel injection was installed and the pump was rebuilt. The car got new RS pistons and liners, and the cylinder heads were machined to the correct specs.
The car was painted in the original factory color, Aubergine, or eggplant, and equipped with custom-ordered black leather and houndstooth sport seats.
“This incredible RS Tribute,” the description states, “is far and away the best sorted and well-constructed RS Tribute we have ever seen.”
The Porsche had purportedly logged a mere 12,716 miles, making it a “rare find,” according to Johnson’s complaint.
Johnson agreed to buy the Tribute for $120,000.
More than a year later, December 2016, the car was delivered to Johnson in California, where he lived at the time. The following month, he took it to a Porsche expert, “for reasons unrelated to this complaint.”
To his horror, the complaint states, the mechanic discovered that “his rare, unique find was a sham.”
Johnson alleges that Starr and Hunting Ridge never intended to sell the car as advertised. “Instead, they swindled (him) into significantly overpaying for a junkyard heap.”
As to Johnson’s accusations, “That’s not who I am,” Starr said. “It’s not the way I conduct business.”
Johnson sued Starr and Hunting Ridge in a California court in 2017, for fraud, breach of contract and violation of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
Last year, he won a default judgment for $192,594, that included the purchase price, interest, attorney fees and costs.
Now he is asking Westchester Supreme Court to adopt the California findings and grant him a judgment for the same amount.