The Royal Courts of Justice in London, via PAThe Royal Courts of Justice in London, via PA


Judge labels car dealer dishonest over sale of Ferrari crashed by top footballer Ian Wright

  • Brendan Connor was sued for fraudulent misrepresentations over footballer’s Ferrari
  • 360 Spider had been described to classic car enthusiast as being ‘in excellent condition’
  • But it was subsequently found to be in state of disrepair after head-on crash by striker
  • Connor might now have to pay out more than £100,000

Time 9:08 am, March 14, 2024

A car dealer has been labelled dishonest by a judge after selling a Ferrari he said was in excellent condition but had in fact been crashed into a tree by England footballer Ian Wright.

Brendan Connor was sued for fraudulent misrepresentations by classic car enthusiast Reid Torr after the computer engineer, who lives in Australia, forked out £43,400 for the 360 Spider in 2013 in the belief that it was in tiptop condition.

It was advertised on Auto Trader by Heathfield Motor Company, whose sole director was Connor.

According to The Times, the car was said to be in ‘great condition in and out’ and Connor assured Torr by phone that it was ‘in excellent condition with no damage to its body or interior’.

Torr was also told the metallic blue Spider was ‘very rare’ and, as such, more valuable because it it had had Challenge Stradale bumpers and wheels factory-fitted.

But when it was shipped out to Brisbane, Torr found it in a state of disrepair and subsequently discovered that the ex-Arsenal and England player had hit a tree head-on in it in 2004.

In fact, the car’s condition was so bad that it was described by an Australian mechanic as a ‘dog’.

He sued Torr for some £100,000 damages for fraudulently selling him the Ferrari.

Ferrari 360 Spider via Ferrari media centre

A Ferrari 360 Spider similar to the one at the centre of the court case. Image used for illustrative purposes only.

Torr’s barrister, Stephanie Jarron, told Central London County Court – part of the Royal Courts of Justice –  that the bonnet fit was so bad that washers had been installed under a hinge in an attempt to fix it.

She said the inside of a headlight also had a crack, the wings had been badly fitted, which suggested they’d been taken off and replaced, plus the paintwork, soft-top roof and underside all showed signs of damage.

Torr had been awarded over £70,000 in damages against the Hertfordshire-based dealership but he didn’t get anything as it went into voluntary liquidation.

He then sued Connor in 2019, and a judge ruled that the car dealer had made ‘fraudulent representations’ about the car’s condition.

However, that judgment was overturned on appeal and the case went back to court in January for a decision on whether the false representations were fraudulent.

Connor, 65, had denied the allegations and said that before the Ferrari was shipped out it had been assessed by independent specialists who failed to spot the alleged defects, and he ‘honestly believed’ the Spider was in a good condition.

His counsel, Simon Jones, said Connor had acted ‘honestly’ throughout and said the case centred on ‘unsupported hypothesis’ and ‘bare allegations’.

The lawyer also said that ‘multiple people inspected the Ferrari…and came to the same conclusions’ as the dealer had.

In the latest ruling, Judge Graeme Robertson said Connor didn’t know about the striker’s accident because he wouldn’t have necessarily read about it, added to which there was no evidence suggesting he’d seen an edition of BBC TV programme Top Gear on which Wright had appeared and that had mentioned it.

But since Connor had been in the industry for a long time and was also an ex-mechanic, he’d have known when inspecting the vehicle ahead of its sale what to look for.

That meant it was ‘inconceivable’ that he ‘would not have seen at least some of the defects’, said the judge.

Connor now faces what has been described as ‘a significant compensation bill’ after the judge ruled that the dealer had been dishonest.

He said Connor was ‘liable in fraudulent misrepresentation’ because the dealer didn’t believe he was telling Torr the truth when he described the Spider to him.

Lawyers say the exact amount in damages hasn’t been decided but as new the 360 Spider would have cost some £120,000. It is believed that Connor will have to pay more than £100,000.

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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