Peo­ple buy clas­sics all the time, but what if the one you buy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Rob Mar­shall

‘The state­ment “sold as seen” does not give a trader a getout clause’ AN­DREW LEAKEY, STEPHENSONS

April and May are tra­di­tion­ally strong months for clas­sic car buy­ing. Own­ers get itchy feet around this time, keen to off­load a car or two in or­der to free up space, so that an­other clas­sic can be bought.

Buy­ing clas­sics from traders might be the safest op­tion legally, but 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 post­sale, we do all that we can to help. It is highly un­likely that you will get this sup­port from a pri­vate ven­dor.’

How­ever, while most clas­sic traders also pro­vide ex­tra guar­an­tees, An­drew Leakey, head of the Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion de­part­ment at na­tional law firm, Stephensons, says war­ranty – or a lack thereof – is not a black and white is­sue. 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.’

Buy­ing pri­vately might be a cheaper op­tion. But you have few come-backs, un­less you can prove that the ven­dor’s pri­mary mo­tive was for profit; mak­ing them a trader/ dealer in the views of Her Majesty’s Rev­enue and Cus­toms (HMRC) and, there­fore, restor­ing con­sumer rights that would not ap­ply oth­er­wise. You might wish to see if other ve­hi­cles are ad­ver­tised for sale and meth­ods that you could use in­clude check­ing if the yel­low sec­tion of the V5C is miss­ing and ver­i­fy­ing that the ven­dor is sell­ing cars via a trade/ busi­ness ac­count on a phys­i­cal or on­line auc­tion.

How­ever, should a do­mes­tic seller make false claims in an ad­ver­tise­ment, thereby mis­rep­re­sent­ing the ve­hi­cle to in­flate its value, you could con­sider mak­ing a per­sonal le­gal claim for a par­tial re­fund, at least.

Even so, you must never be un­rea­son­able. It can be im­pos­si­ble for an in­no­cent ven­dor to be aware of ev­ery past re­pair and cur­rent foible af­fect­ing a car that is many decades old.

Looks great, doesn’t it? But there’s re­dress for buy­ers if a clas­sic turns out to be a bad ‘un.

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