bought a classic pup? here’s what to do…
Buying a classic car should be a joyous experience – but what if it turns out to be not as advertised? We examine what you can and can’t do if your new car isn’t up to scratch
Aleading lawyer is urging buyers of classic cars to be wary of traders using the term ‘sold as seen with no warranty given or implied’.
Andrew Leakey, head of the Dispute Resolution department at national law firm, Stephensons, wants classic car owners to know that this statement is not as iron-clad – or, indeed, water-tight – as many believe it to be.
He says: ‘Independent warranties cannot affect your entitlement enshrined under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 when you buy from a trader. The statement “Sold as seen with no warranty given or implied” does not give the trader a get-out clause. The court will also consider the purpose of a car sale. If a vehicle was intended for spares and not for roadworthiness, a court would not require a trader to bring it up to running standard.’
He adds: ‘Consider also that paying even a small deposit of more than £100 with a credit card makes the finance provider just as liable should any dispute occur, and taking out legal cover with your household policy can help to cover the costs involved with making a claim.’
However, while buying classic cars from traders might be the safest option legally, there are other advantages, as Richard Wrightson of Cotswold Collectors Cars of Bibury, Gloucestershire explains: ‘Apart from legal protection, buyers also benefit from trader experience. We encourage customers to be part of our “club”. Should something go wrong post-sale, we do all that we can to help. It is unlikely that you’d get this support from a private vendor.’
Buying privately is sometimes ( but not always) a cheaper option, but you have few comebacks, unless you can prove that the vendor’s primary motive was profit, making them a trader/dealer in the eyes of the HMRC and therefore restoring consumer rights that would not apply otherwise. You may also wish to see if the vendor is advertising other vehicles for sale; check to see if the yellow trader’s section of the V5C is missing and verifying whether or no the vendor is selling via a trade/ business account on a physical or online auction. And always contact a vendor asking for information about ‘the car’ and not a specific vehicle. However, should even a domestic seller make false claims in an advert, thereby misrepresenting the vehicle to inflate its value, you could consider making a personal legal claim for at least a partial refund.
Even so, it can be impossible for an innocent vendor to be aware of every past repair and current foible affecting a car that is many years – or even decades – old. However, a lot depends legally on how much you paid for the car and whether or not that sum is considered to be fair.
Should you buy a restored classic for half the typical restoration cost, it could be argued that you could not rationally expect it to be in firstclass condition (unless the car had been advertised as such) and that a reasonable person will expect to budget for some repair work above and beyond routine servicing and maintenance. Should you discover that the same car was dangerous and non-roadworthy, within a very short period of taking ownership – despite the vehicle being sold with a full MoT and with no defects disclosed in the advert – you would likely have a much stronger case.