My Car Quest

June 16, 2024

Counterfeit Cars

Caveat emptor, let the buyer beware, is important in the collector car world…

by Mike –

When a classic car model reaches a value level where creating a counterfeit can be profitable, dishonest people may take dishonest action by passing off a counterfeit as authentic.

The New York Post published an article on this subject on March 2, 2019. I was interviewed for this article and was asked how big is this problem? My answer to that question, from the article, is below.

While it’s impossible to know how many counterfeit cars are on the collectibles market — “We only hear about the ones that get publicized,” said Mike Gulett, who publishes — the problem is big enough that lawyers specialize in these cases.

Read the New York Post article here…

The recent Jerry Seinfeld situation where he is being sued by the buyer of one of his Porsches and in turn is suing the dealer who sold him this Porsche has created interest in counterfeit cars. I suspect we will be reading more about this subject.

Many of you likely know of situations where the car being sold was not accurately described by the seller. Maybe you or one of your friends has been involved in a transaction like this?

Below is my list of why I think that counterfeit cars are not always publicized.

1. The buyer must discover that the car is fake, which is not a guarantee.

2. The buyer may not want it known publicly that he bought a fake because it may embarrass him or harm his business.

3. The buyer may not want to shoulder the legal cost and risk of suing the seller.

4. There is liability potential for libel and/or slander by the buyer if he accuses the seller of a crime.

5. The buyer may decide to write off his losses and sell the car quietly while correcting the description and accepting a lower price than he paid.

6. The buyer may decide to sell the car, not correcting the description, and pass the problem along to another buyer.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Thank you for supporting My Car Quest


Read one of my comic strips on the subject of Counterfeit Cars.

Modified Silver Rolls Royce

Image by Richard Bartholomew – from Lord Lucan’s Escape Rolls Royce Found…

Counterfeit Cars
Article Name
Counterfeit Cars
While it’s impossible to know how many counterfeit cars are on the collectibles market — “We only hear about the ones that get publicized,” said Mike Gulett who publishes


  1. Frederick says

    Hello Mike,

    As you may know I was both Director of Security and Brand Protection Manager in Maranello. One of Ferrari’s target at the time was to fight counterfeits: not only shirts, caps and fake merchandising but also faked parts, stolen parts, aso. At the time, my team and I started an operation against the so-called “replica” (McBurny’s, F360 kit for Pontiac Fiero). But we soon upgraded to high profile replica (P4 replica in the UK) up to a top notch garage which proposed its customers to have their genuine classic Ferrari duplicated into a cheaper version they could daily drive: if you could provide them with evidence of owning a 250 GTO, for instance, they would fly to your home, scan your genuine car and make the copy (based on F275 chassis) for over 500kUSD…

    I faced more than once cases of faked cars not only from Maranello, but also Stuttgart, Wolfsburg and even Bresso. Faking is not only about the car itself, but also its history, its chassis number, the mechanics and some time (hum..) even the certification. It’s a very nasty situation for most of automotive manufacturers, especially the smaller ones, that may have not the background knowledge, documentation.

    Regarding chassis numbers, when it comes to racing cars, it’s been more complicated because when a car was destroyed during a race, it was not uncommon that the car wreck would be let onsite and new chassis be issued by the factory…with th very same number…I have seen a paper record of racing cars chassis numbers where a number with date (late say, 1964) was cancelled, and a new entry with the same chassis number was input in the next line with a different date (ex: 1966). In that case, the wreckage was recovered, later sold and restored and sold in an auction in the 1990’s: as a result, 2 genuine cars were available to the classic car market with the very same chassis number and one difficult question: which one is the most valuable? which one carries the history of wins?

    This is only one example of how various is the counterfeit cars market and how difficult it is for the manufacturers to decide where they should “use the hammer”.

  2. Thanks a lot to Mike for this article and to Frederick for your interesting considerations done on the basis of your huge experience.

    By my side, living in Bresso, was amazing read the sentence were my little town is listed together with Maranello, Stuttgart and Wolfsburg. That means something bad under the point of view of this theme, but also something very good from different point of view! 🙂

    Ciao from Bresso!

  3. Rob Krantz says

    Mike, great article and, as you are probably well aware, an issue in the Cobra world. As was also pointed out by Frederick re. Wrecked racing cars, wrecked Cobras end up being resurrected years later due to the huge value increase while the chassis number was used again when the car was rebuilt back in the day, thus two cars end up claiming the same chassis number. Pretty terrible situation for those who think that they have the “real” car.

  4. Fortunately, with a number of cars today, especially Cobras and Shelbys, specialty clubs like SAAC maintain excellent registries for the various years and models produced and likely know about all the particular cars that were raced and wrecked as well as those totally destroyed.
    Anyone looking to buy a rare and expensive car should attend national conventions, meet owners and discuss the key things to look for when evaluating a car as to its originality, attend auctions to look at good examples, get advice from the Hagerty or Sports Car Market value guides, and consider hiring a reputable restoration/repair shop that specializes in that car to evaluate the car before buying. Original sheet metal, engine block and other important parts are key to the value of many cars and the experts know where to look for clues.
    In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t take a great deal of time to call and speak with one of the registrars about a car’s history. Anyone today who decides to purchase one of these cars without first consulting with the registrar for their particular model of interest could be taking a shortcut to disaster should they buy an excellent reproduction for all six of the reasons listed above.
    Where it gets tricky is when someone believes they’ve discovered one of the long unaccounted for cars the registrars haven’t had information about for several decades. It looks right, the accompanying story sounds plausible, and a bit of greed may come into play because the potential buyer may not want to let anyone know he’s found the car so no one else can swoop in and buy it out from under him.

  5. wallace wyss says

    I remember a Shelby GT350 R-model being smashed at Willow Springs when the owner had rejected safety-wiring the lug nuts (drilling a hole in long lug nuts and wiring them so they couldn’t come off) as unnecessary and woulnn’tcha know , a few minutes later, a wheel falls off in a race and he crashes. I saw the accident–his car hit another with such force I saw the body bend about 20 deg. He immediately had the car covered with a tarp and later had it rebuilt in his own garage. I saw a wrinkled floorpan and cowl structure in the garbage outside his house and the question came to mind–how much of a unitized car can you replace with structural elements from another car before the original is no longer considered original? 25% ? 50%? 75%? That’s why I can accept a tube framed car, like Ferrari Testa Rossa–that’s got a newly re-created body but once major elements of the frame on a unitized car have been changed, I grow more dubious about labeling it original. Take human beings, I’ve fractured a bone and had it heal but I never heard of a human being re-skeltoned!

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