The state Attorney General’s Office is investigating a former Fayetteville car restoration business that is accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars for work it never completed.
The attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division has received 13 complaints about Classic Chassis at 3951 Airline Drive, spokeswoman Jennifer Canada said.
“The complaints date back to October 2010 and have to do with Classic Chassis either not performing restoration or repair work as promised or performing work that was unsatisfactory,” Canada said. “Most of the work was paid for up front involving in some cases tens of thousands of dollars.”
The office is investigating the company’s business practices, she said.
Mack Brazelle said he contracted with Classic Chassis in late 2009 to restore his 1967 Ford Mustang. He has paid business owner Brian Clark tens of thousands of dollars for the job, and Clark did do some work on the car, he said. But now the car sits torn apart at the shop off Claude Lee Road.
“I’ve just been dealing with him for about 18 months, trying to get him to finish what he said he was going to do,” said Brazelle, who visited the shop last week trying to figure out what to do.
“Basically, my stuff is not there anymore. My car is a shell of a car. All the pieces that were in it, the interior and everything, was all thrown in a box and just smashed up. My biggest concern was where my engine and transmission were.”
Attempts to contact Clark on Friday were unsuccessful.
The business has been the subject of 10 civil lawsuits in Cumberland County since 2004, according to court records. The federal government put a lien against the property last year because Clark owed them $44,599 in federal taxes, and Clark had also failed to pay almost $1,000 in unemployment insurance taxes to the state, court records indicate.
Joel Horowitz, a Fayetteville doctor, sued Clark last year alleging nearly a decade of unfilled promises. Court documents allege that Horowitz hired Clark in March 2001 to restore a 1948 GMC truck, with the work expected to be finished in April 2004.
Despite collecting payments exceeding $30,000 for the job, Clark failed to complete the restoration as of last October – nearly a decade after promising to do so, according to the suit. Horowitz won a default judgment against Clark because the defendant never responded to the lawsuit.
Horowitz did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday.
Clark and Classic Chassis have been written about extensively on Ripoff Report, a website that allows consumers to voice their complaints. Customers on the site complain about paying thousands of dollars and getting little to no work done in return.
“Its Magic, turn in a classic car and $20K for restoration and Brian Clark will make it all disappear,” one customer wrote.
A few weeks ago, customers who have cars at the shop received a letter from a company called American Classic Car Restoration saying it had bought the equipment at the shop and it wanted to continue working on the cars.
According to the state Corporations Division, Classic Chassis dissolved Sept. 2, 2010, because Clark failed to file a required report. Clark, however, continues to work there, customers say.
That’s because American Classic Car Restoration, incorporated May 5, is now running the shop and temporarily employing Clark, according to its owner, James Grosslight.
“We’re trying to straighten out this mess,” Grosslight said. “He’s there now trying to help us find all the parts for all the cars that he’s scattered over all the years.”
The business is not affiliated with Clark’s operation, he said. As a result, customers will have to enter new contracts and pay again for any work that they want the new operation to perform, he said.
Vehicle owners also have the option of picking up their vehicles within 30 days of being contacted and taking their business elsewhere, he said.
Some have chosen to do that, while others are still weighing their options. Brazelle said he saw several other customers on his recent visit to the shop who were just realizing the impact of what had happened.
“There were like three people I bumped into just like me that had this dazed look on their faces,” he said. “They realized they were getting screwed and it was never going to be done right.
“I know that I will probably never get my money back. I do plan to sue the guy, but I know he’s got nothing and it will just be a long, drawn-out process.”