Customers' Deposits Gone in 60 Seconds

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams
customers deposits gone in 60 seconds

Unique Performance in Farmers Branch, Texas built replicas of "Eleanor" from the Nicholas Cage, Angelina Jolie classic Gone in 60 Seconds, and clones of the 1966 Shelby GT 350SR. During a five-year period, Unique Performance banked customer deposits for 225 cars, raking-in between $10m and $15m. The company built 119 cars before a group of owners got tired of waiting up to two years for their fire-breathing replicars. The Dallas Morning News reports that a group of Eleanoristas filed lawsuits to recover their deposits. Some of these aggrieved pistonheads included Shelby Automobiles in their action, as Ole Shel maintained a licensing agreement with Unique. Last month, the police moved in, seizing 61 cars at Unique's shop, including customers' cars hanging around for servicing. The cops alleged title irregularities with the donor cars. About a week after the raid, Unique filed for Chapter 7. The court's protection means that the 106 customers who haven't received their cars will be SOL. The money involved ranges from $50k a pop to one unlucky enthusiast who handed over $500k on an order of four cars. Somewhere in Hollywood, an overpaid screenwriter is laughing.

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  • Quasimondo Quasimondo on Dec 27, 2007
    Same thing happened to everyone waiting on a Skyline from Motorex… ‘Cept there was a bit more than just failure to deliver in that case. Something about federal charges of kidnapping and such. The kidnapping charges were state charges, and as far as I can recall, they were unrelated to the other problems he (Hiroaki Nanahoshi) had.Those charges were eventually dismissed. I'm guessing the state didn't have a strong enough case. The Motorex story is a bit different. They got in trouble with the federal government over their importing practices. They were fine when they were just importing R33 Skylines, since they did the proper crash testing for that model, but when they started importing R32 and R34 Skylines, they pulled a fast one and submitted the same R33 crash data for the other two models and told the government it was just as good. When NHTSA and DOT found out, they revoked Motorex's status as a registered importer for Skylines and rescinded the certification of R32 and R34 Skylines. That's what held up a lot of people who were trying to get their Skyline brought over. Eventually the DOT issued a waiver to legalize those R32's and R34's that were already in the country and released them to owners who already paid (understanding that the fraud was committed by Motorex and the owners were the victims in this), but if anybody else wanted to import those vehicles, they'd have to go through the certification process again.
  • Timd38 Timd38 on Dec 27, 2007

    Peal back the onion and look at the roots of the organization. I think it will amaze you.

  • Virtual Insanity Virtual Insanity on Dec 28, 2007

    quasi: Yeah, thats one of the stories I've heard. I mean, I know the reason he got screwed outa the Skylines was the falsifying of crash testing info, but everything else is so damned complicated. I have the court documents on my computer in PDF from, but even I, wanting to go to law school and such, can't generate the interest to read all of it. It was a bogus situation from start to finish... Its one of those internet legends. I've heard everything from there was no kidnapping charges, to he pleaded out of them, etc. I've heard they both were and weren't related to the Motorex fiasco as well. I've heard it may have had something to do with drugs, and that they were involved in whatever situation that it was that got turned into that Alpha Dog movie that came out. Who knows, its all internet based news, which means 50% of it is lies, and the other 50% is only half truths. Whatever. The problem is, most, not all but most, of these business are being started up by old school or new school that want to be old school street racers that only have one goal in mind: cash. If they can screw ten people out of $100k and get away with it, then they are set for a good bit. I don't know how many horror stories I've read of this exact same situation from more than a handful of other shops. Hell, in the newest issue of SCC, they have a story of bringing in a 350Z for some work, and it ends up getting hacked up and the parts they bought getting sent out with other customers. At the end of the day, all you can do is research. Just do your homework to make sure you aren't handing over hard earned cash, or your car, to a bunch of people who are only looking for a buck. Then again...its hard to make the argument anyone in the aftermarket, at least on our side it seems, is here for anything more than money. I don't really see any of them giving SFA about customers. Other than some of the big ones, and even then. This is why I do all the work I'm capable of myself. I just don't trust anyone enough to leave my car with without me being able to watch. And you better watch, too. Or else you'll end up like me, with a $300 oil change.

  • DrBrian DrBrian on Dec 29, 2007

    stupid question but how can the Police seize customer cars in for servicing? surely those cars are owned by someone not connected to UP other than the service?