Furore over the R720 million Ferrari and its missing gearbox

By Josh White Time of article published Dec 11, 2019

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LONDON - A classic car dealer is locked in a High Court battle over the missing gearbox in one of the world’s most expensive vehicles.

Gregor Fisken, 55, bought the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO in 2017 from Bernard Carl for £37 million (R720m) on the understanding he would provide the original gearbox, the court was told.

But now US collector Mr Carl claims he is under no obligation to do so. Just 39 of the cars were built between 1962 and 1964, and the model has for decades been regarded as the holy grail for car collectors. The car holds the world record for the highest sale price - with one of the 39 vehicles fetching £53 million (R1.03bn) in 2018.

The second GTO built - with chassis number 3387GT - is at the centre of the legal fight. Mr Fisken’s company Gregor Fisken Ltd (GFL) is suing lawyer Mr Carl, demanding that the "unique and special" original gearbox from the car is delivered to it.

The dealer’s firm bought the car from Washington-based Mr Carl. GFL, based in Kensington, west London, immediately sold it on to an anonymous collector, Judge Richard Pearce was told in London. William Hooper, for GFL, told the court that when Mr Fisken’s company bought the car, it knew it did not contain the original gearbox. But it believed that Mr Carl could later obtain it from where it was being held by another classic car dealer in the US.

The lawyer told the judge: "Mr Carl undertook to use his best efforts to recover and deliver up the gearbox in consideration for Gregor Fisken Ltd accepting the GTO without it." 

Mr Hooper added that Mr Carl located the gearbox but the parties fell out after he said the other dealer wanted £19 000 (R370 000) in "release monies" to hand it over. Bad feeling grew during later exchanges between the parties as to where the gearbox should be handed over and, if it was to be delivered to England, who should pay for shipping and the release fee.

GFL is suing for "specific performance" of the contract, demanding that Mr Carl hand over the gearbox, which is being stored by the other US dealer.

But Mr Carl claims he does not have to as GFL "repudiated" the contract of sale by refusing his proposal that it pick the gearbox up in California. He argues that Mr Fisken’s company now has "no title" to it. At court Mr Carl said that if the purchase agreement still exists, he is owed nearly £400 000 (R7.78m) for work in locating and obtaining the missing gearbox.

Mr Hooper told the judge: "The disputes relate to the GTO’s original gearbox... which has not been delivered to GFL. Mr Carl refuses to turn over the gearbox and maintains that he has no obligation to do so, that the purchase agreement has been terminated for GFL’s alleged repudiatory breach of contract."

He added that Mr Fisken’s company insists on having the gearbox itself, not cash in kind.

He stressed: "The gearbox is a unique and special item. Damages would be inadequate".

The barrister added: "The part would help restore the GTO to its 'original and complete state'. The restoration of original parts to cars of this nature is of great significance. This is not simply about the unique nature of the gearbox itself but the restoration of the GTO’s provenance. It is, as noted by Mr Fisken, a 'travesty that it has not been reunited with the GTO'."

When new in 1962 the GTO sold for around $18 000 in the US – with buyers personally approved by car firm chief Enzo Ferrari.

Scots-born Mr Fisken races sports cars and is among a handful of racers to drive in all four classes of the Le Mans 24-hour contest in France. The hearing continues.

Daily Mail

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