Home Courts Mount Kisco dealer accused of selling junk car as rare vintage Porsche

Mount Kisco dealer accused of selling junk car as rare vintage Porsche

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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.

porsche
1972 Porsche 911 RS Carrera Tribute, as offered by Hunting Ridge Motors, Mount Kisco, in 2015.

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.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. I too am a victim at the hands of Mark Starr. I purchased a car from Starr through the 2018 Quail Lodge, Bonhams auction. The car was described as “fully restored, complete engine rebuild etc. and ready to enjoy”. Since receiving the car I have had to spend over 45k to get the car road worthy. The car has required a complete engine rebuild as well as a transmission rebuild, new breaks and rotors etc.. I have repeatedly attempted to settle this issue with Starr and have been met with nothing but profanity, threats and lies.

    • Jim,

      Attached is the description from the 1973 Porsche 911E that you purchased directly from BONHAMS and NOT from me. The description is not only accurate but documented invoices for ALL the work described herein were provided. It is your responsibility to inspect any purchase prior to an auction. Your lack of due diligence falls squarely on your lap. Coming to me after you purchase a car from Bonhams auction is ludicrous. If I recall, it was you that lost your temper and made threats of suing me.
      This not NOT the proper forum for you to make false allegations about me.

      https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/24811/lot/94/?category=list&length=135&page=1

      This stunning 1973 Porsche 911E Coupe is the recent recipient of an extensive 2-year restoration. Beginning with a very solid and original car, the body was completely stripped before being finished in its original color of code 13, Bahia Red. The interior has been completely refinished with new carpets, headliner, map pockets, refinished gauges, and a new dashboard. During the interior restoration, the car was tastefully upgraded with RS Sport Seats containing Houndstooth inserts. Mechanically, the original matching numbers engine has been fully rebuilt and resealed in addition to the MFI injection system being re-freshened and re-calibrated. Under the car, new Koni shocks have been installed and all bushings and suspension parts have been replaced or freshened. Rounding out the restoration, the five original date stamped Fuchs alloys wheels have been restored in California in the correct anodized factory finish by a well-known wheel specialist. New Dunlop 195/65 R15 tires have been fitted to all five wheels and new aluminum lug nuts have been installed.

      In accordance with its COA, this U.S. delivered example retains its factory fitted electric sunroof and Blaupunkt radio. The car is fitted with S trim that includes aluminum rocker trim panels and S style factory front Spoiler. The U.S. required rubber bumperettes were removed in the front and earlier chrome bumperettes were used in the rear. European H4 Bosch Headlamps have been installed along with factory Bosch front and rear Euro marker lenses. Accompanying the car are its original manuals, factory tool kit, restoration invoices, and a COA. This well sorted, beautifully finished 1973 911E offers an opportunity to acquire the final year of the highly desirable long hood, air cooled MFI 911 that is fully sorted and ready to be enjoyed.

  2. I’m sorry, I have to disagree. I’ve been dealing with Mark Starr for almost 20 years, through Hunting Ridge Motors, Hunting Ridge Motorsports, and Lotus of Greenwich. I have purchased and sold five cars through Mark.

    Mark has a HUGE following of happy customers who come back. I know this because I have met and made friends of many of them through racing events, car shows, and time spent at his dealerships shopping and servicing over all of these years. I have a close friend in LA who was absolutely delighted with his purchase… when he could have sourced his car locally. Many have purchased or sold more than one car through Mark, just like me.

    I find Mark reasonable and fair. I trust him. He’s not a bulls__tter. And I have dealt with numerous other exotic and sport car resellers who did not earn my trust. Flukes happen, even with honest and knowledgable sellers. Mark Starr selling “junk” cars. That’s extremely hard for me to believe.

  3. Well it happened and Mark knows it happened!! He was given plenty of time to make it right. He stalled and stalled and refused to do anything. You and your friends lucked out. The judgement is final and recorded. Time for Mark Starr to step up and do what’s right b

    • Better look in your own back yard. There is something called perjury, and when you falsely swear in a court document to “facts” which are not true, then the question of perjury arises. The Westchester County Supreme Court motion filed by you is now public record. In it, there appears a sworn declaration submitted to the California Supreme Court which you submitted in support of your request for a default judgment to be entered against Mark Starr and Hunting Ridge Motors, Inc. Statement #6 therein is where you claim ( in this sworn declaration) that you (Gregory P. Johnson) contracted to purchase said vehicle from Hunting Ridge Motors, Inc. Yet the Retail Certificate of Sale which you attach to your supporting papers CLEARLY show that said vehicle was purchased by GPJ Montana LLC, out of Missoula MT. This entity is a Montana LLC. This is not an individual. Not being a lawyer, I can still offer up “Contracts 101” for consideration: only the entities who actually contracted as Buyer and Seller have standing in any subsequent contract-based dispute. So, let’s see, what is “GPJ Montana LLC”? It is, on its face , a Montana corporation located in Montana. And, now, what is it’s purpose? An examination of the (hard-to-get) records from Montana indicate that this LLC has been used as a conduit to register and title various cars of the principal , who is no other than Gregory P Johnson. Surprise! ( or maybe not). Montana charges no sales tax on vehicles. It is a tax haven for individuals wishing to avoid the legal obligation they may have to pay a sales or use tax in the State which they physically reside. Our “woe is me” Mr. Johnson has registered and titled a slew of vehicles over the years in Montana, obtaining Montana tags and avoiding CA sales and use tax. According to the CHP ( California Highway Patrol) and CA tax authorities, this constitutes illegal avoidance of sales tax obligations due to the wonderful State of California. So, who is coming to the CA Supreme Court and the Westchester County Supreme Court with “clean hands”? Apparently NOT Mr. Gregory P Johnson, most esteemed orthodontist, possibly now recently retired and living in lovely area of Arizona! Recently, there have been at least 2 high-profile arrests made of individuals who have availed themselves of this sales tax avoidance scheme (using a Montana LLC) and criminal charges were filed. Although our Mr Johnson is not one of them, who knows, maybe he’s next. CHP is offering a bounty for information about other tax-avoiders, maybe someone out there is interested?

  4. I’m sure if we choose to focus on Starr we will continue to get mixed opinions of positive vs. negative transactions. I too had numerous positive dealings with Starr prior to the disaster I inherited after he apparently pushed a problem vehicle into the Bonhams auction. As previously stated, $45,000 later, I am in the possession of the car I should have received (per the detailed catalog discription) when I purchased it from the auction. Our focus should not be on Starr, although he needs to be held accountable. Instead our focus should be on the “dirty underbelly” that we, “the collectors” allow and tolerate to exist in this space. Billions of dollars trade annually in the collector car world where there exists little to no regulation and consumer protection. This “cancer” is not only hurting us individually but is causing an increasingly low level of confidence and price depression in cars purchased privately and by auction. As we all know, many many many of us have been impacted by underhanded dealings. The victims include some of the highest end collectors in the world, such as Jerry Seinfeld on down. We must stop tolerating the abuse and as a community push back on the deceit. Just one mans opinion.

  5. Here is the EXACT ad that Dick Barbour ( Paul Newman’s ex co-driver ) wrote about the car when I bought it from him directly………

    1973 Porsche 911 RS Tribute
    over 5 years ago
    Brand
    Porsche
    Seller
    Dick Barbour
    Available on
    RennList
    Location
    Ohio
    Description
    Year: 1973
    Make: Porsche
    Model: 911
    Porsche Model: 911
    Mileage (numbers only please): 12194
    Options (Please check ALL which apply): Power Brakes, Traction Control
    Color: aubergine
    VIN: VIN 9112101346
    Price (no $ sign please): $110000
    Private or Dealer Listing: Private Listing
    Location (Region): SouthEast
    Body Style: Coupe
    Transmission Type: Manual – 5 speed
    2 or 4 Wheel Drive?: 2 Wheel Drive
    Engine Type: Fuel Injection
    Stereo System: None
    1973 Porsche 911 RS Tribute,
    VIN 9112101346
    , was meticulously constructed by Stoddard Porsche in Ohio. The engine and transmission mechanicals were done by Franz Blam Racing in Tucker, Georgia. The car started life as a ’72 911 T. It was a rust free and never damaged chassis. Original steel RS fender flares were butt welded. The exterior and interior of the car was painted in the original Aubergine (eggplant) color. The car has the correct large diameter Koni front struts and rear shocks. All the brake and suspension components are correct for an RS. A set of Weltmeister front and rear adjustable sway bars have been added for increased handling ability. All the genuine Sekurit glass is without flaw. Period correct left and right rear view mirrors are on the car and the headlamps have been updated to H-4 lamps. The duck tail rear spoiler and RS front and rear bumpers are period correct for an RS. The RS has genuine Fuchs Alloy wheels in 7×15 inch fronts and 8×15 rears that are color coordinated to the color of the car. The interior is excellent. It has a nice dash. It has Recaro performance seats, a MOMO steering wheel, and a roll bar. The car has factory Behr air conditioning but the compressor has been removed. The engine built by Franz Blam has replicated the specifications for the RS. The engine was built on the original engine case and the transmission is original making it a matching numbers car. The correct 1973 911S fuel injection has been used and the mechanical injection pump has been rebuilt. The oil pump was updated to the latest Carrera oil pump. New RS spec pistons and liners were installed and the cylinder heads were machined to RS size and specifications. 911 S camshafts were installed and a Clewett crank fire ignition system was utilized. The transmission has been rebuilt with new engagement teeth and synchronizer rings on all gears. The transmission has the correct ZF positraction that was installed in the RS cars. A new correct aluminum lightweight clutch has been installed. The transmission has very quiet operation and shifts well. An RS Lightweight sold at Amelia island in March for $1,402,500. This car can be driven and enjoyed instead of being a museum piece. As the real RS’s appreciate in value, the tribute cars will follow right along.
    $110,000 Please call Dick at 678-428-4555

    The claim made against me was FRAUD! It states the car was a SHAM!!! Built by Stoddard Porsche and an engine built by Franz Blam, Sold by Dick Barbour, COMPLETELY INSPECTED BY RENNWERKE PORSCHE prior to purchase. Then modified as per the buyer’s request by Rennwerke. Then 16 months after the car was sold ( a 43 year old car at the time ) he claimed that he wanted me to perform repairs to the car. I was willing to make the repairs but the price he quoted was totally INSANE!!! This is what the buyer says about the car….. ( A JUNKYARD HEAP )

    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.”

    You be the judge…………

  6. Mark, as of this morning I sent you another offer to satisfy the financial loss I have incurred do to the car being misrepresented. I have no desire to argue this issue in a public forum but since you chose to include the catalog description that you provided Bonhams, I do believe that it is important to highlight a couple quotes that clearly support my claim. First, the description clearly states, and I quote, ” MECHANICALLY, THE ORIGINAL MATCHING NUMBERS ENGINE HAS BEEN FULLY REBUILT AND RESEALED IN ADDITION TO THE MFI INJECTION SYSTEM BEING REFRESHED AND RE-CALIBRATED”. Do to the fact that the car was virtually inoperable when I received it, I sent the car to one of the most reputable air cooled Porsche experts on the east coast for evaluation and diagnosis( documented and photo’d). At the advice of this expert ( you know him well) and do to the fact that it was inoperable the repair work commenced. Second, its written that ” This well sorted, beautifully finished 1973E offers an opportunity to acquire the final year of the highly desirable long hood, air cooled MFI 911 THAT IS FULLY SORTED AND READY TO BE ENJOYED”.
    I could nit pick at the fact that there where multiple additional issues that needed to be overhauled such as the breaks and rotors as well as the transmission freezing up do to there being no gear oil, but what is the point. Instead, I will end with a quote from an email that you sent me on March 18th 2019 that pretty much says it all. ” THE AUCTION WAS PAINFUL FOR ME. I HAD YEARS OF TIME AND LABOR INTO ALL 3 CARS. ITS THE RED CAR THAT I WANT TO FOCUS ON. I DECIDED TO SEND IT TO THE AUCTION BECAUSE AFTER YEARS WITH CHEECH, I WAS STILL UNHAPPY WITH THE RESULTS. IT STILL NEEDED MORE SORTING AND I KNOW I MENTIONED THIS TO YOU. MY DECISION WAS TO SELL THE CAR AT AUCTION TAKE THE PROFIT FROM THE OTHER TWO CARS AND PUT ALL THE CARS BEHIND ME. I CHOSE THE AUCTION BECAUSE ALL SALES ARE AS IS / AND FINAL AND I WANTED THE CARS GONE”.
    This quote clearly states that you knew that the car was a problem and your goal was to pass it on to an unsuspecting buyer which happens to be me.
    Its really that simple, you misrepresented a car that was in significant need of work. You deliberately pushed the car into an auction so an unsuspecting buyer would inherit your problem. I’M NOT A LAWYER, BUT I DON’T THINK THAT THIS IS CONSIDERED A FAIR AND ETHICAL WAY TO DO BUSINESS.

  7. To Mark starr. It makes no matter what you end a previous owner had in your understanding of what you purchased. In a sale to me you represented the 1972 911 T/tribute as I have represented in the lawsuit against you. I am very happy to appear anywhere at anytime with the evidence that I was able to assemble regarding the condition of the car. You totally misled and misrepresented the car. Using the lame excuse of someone else’s prior representation of what the car was has no material interest or relevance at all. You were the one to take responsibility for the car that you sold. If you would like to make restitution please contact me. I’ve given you three years to accomplish this however you have been silent the whole time.

  8. To wayne D. I have no problem with any representation or statements I’ve made. Everything I have done has been documented through legal representation. I have no worries whatsoever regarding the legality of anything regarding the purchase and registration of the vehicle I own.

    Unfortunately you are speaking with no knowledge of the specific and actual situation and have no knowledge of anything regarding the issues you give opinions regarding.

    Mark starr and hunting Ridge motors completely misrepresented the condition and specification of the car he sold me. I gave him plenty of time to make restitution regarding those issues. He refused to do so and ignored my requests. In fact he had a 3rd party call several times to threaten me if I were to proceed. That was three years ago and a lot of legal fees and times since. But it is important that someone as slippery and dishonest as Mark starr should be called out and held accountable.

  9. To Mark Starr. In your diatribe above you conveniently left out of your original description ” The car started life as a ’72 911 T. It was a rust free and never damaged chassis. ” Blatantly false and totally fraudulent. There are a lot of other representations in you selling representation that were false. This is not the forum to present my case. That was already done in detail in court. All conditions and representations that were false were backed up with very specific proof and evidence. You don’t have to ask public opinion to be the judge the, California Court court was the judge and Mark Starr you were found wanting… Are you finally going to do what is right???

  10. a note of correction. Mark Starr’s presentation does include the statement ” It was a rust free and never damaged chassis.” however that representation was again blatantly false and totally fraudulent.

    To correct the article above, The judgement for $192,592 does NOT include the purchase price of the car.

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