It all started with the movie Gone In 60 Seconds then enthusiasts from around the world started ordering one-of-a-kind muscle cars from Unique Performance. Now fast forward a few years and it’s all fallen to pieces.
It started with Unique Performance using customer deposits to pay off other debts, including parts for other customers cars. It then came to light that Unique Performance were using prison inmates to help build their cars, inmates with little to no experience in the automotive industry. It finally reached it’s crescendo when the company led by Doug Hasty, filed for bankruptcy.
Filing for bankruptcy left more than 143 customers hundred of thousands of dollars out and many former employees without their wages. Now all of the cars and parts have been sold at auction and some customers, who paid a lot of money for their vehicles, are suing automotive icon Carroll Shelby.
“I received a book from Carroll Shelby that was signed. I received a tarp for my car. I received a bunch of little stuff, but I never received my car,” said Burleson businessman Mike Erinakes.
CBS11TV reports that Erinakes paid Unique Performance $162,750.00 for a Shelby Mustang “Super Snake” endorsed by Carroll Shelby. Now Erinakes and numerous other clients are demanding Shelby reimburse them for their losses.
“I think he needs to make it right,” said Erinakes. “He personally endorsed these vehicles. He was getting royalties off these vehicles. He needs to make it right with all the people out there who invested money with Carroll Shelby and Unique Performance.”
Erinakes originally purchased a 1969 Camaro and luckily got away clean with it, even voluntarily inviting the Secret Service and Police Department to inspect the legality of his car. Fortunatley for him his Camaro turned out to be all above board. He was however not so lucky with his second purchase, a Shelby Super Snake. Erinakes was awaiting delivery on the Mustang when detectives raided the business and confiscated 61 vehicles that were in various states of completion. Evidence collected from two criminal investigations has been forwarded to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Texas, CBS station KTVT-TV reported.
Former Secret Service agent James Bartee is in the same boat after having ordered a Shelby GT350 SR. Mr Bartee has now also filed a law suit against Shelby.
“I’ve always thought of him as an honorable person and a person that met his obligations so I wanted one of his vehicles before he left this earth,” said Bartee.
Carroll Shelby was an aviator in World War II, a race car driver, an automobile manufacturer and a consultant. It was the Shelby Mustang called “Eleanor” in the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds” that created a new frenzy for these custom-made muscle cars.
The Unique Performance auction was held in March and aimed to recoup the $900,000 that was owed to the IRS. The auctioned raised approx 1.37 million but was expected to raise a lot more. The extra money raised was to go to the customers who lost their money but unfortunately this was not to be.
The 61 cars, in various states of completion, were auctioned online. One fast-back went for more than $19,000 and according to Sgt. Phillip Harris with the Texas Department of Public Service, the Shelby Mustang cars sold by Unique Performance were being sold for an average of $180,000. CBS11 Reported.
Unique Performance is in bankruptcy. The criminal investigation is on-going, but the partially completed vehicles sold at auction had no vehicle identification numbers or titles. So detectives say it’s not known if they’ll ever be legal to put on the road though reports from winning bidders has stated that titles are obtainable stating
“There are only two ways to get a title on these cars: one is legal and the other illegal. I’ve got 30 days to submit the paperwork (VTR-68-A) along with $2.00 and a police officer will come out and put a VIN on the car. I take their paperwork along with the bill of sale to the DMV and then I can get a title. The Farmers Branch Police and TXDOT are currently arguing over the VIN numbers. Farmers Branch is asking for real Ford looking VIN’s and TXDOT wants the long VIN numbers (14 characters I think). Either way, both will be fully transferable.
The illegal way is to do a VIN swap which is how Unique Performance got in trouble in the first place. I think it comes with a 10K fine and jail time so we’re going with the legal way.”
One thing is for sure, i’m very lucky my personal dealings with Unique Performance came through. Although small, my orders did take some time but i got everything in the end.
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