Now-defunct Florida classic car dealership FSD Hot Rod Ranch is in hot water at the moment, with bankruptcy and a federal investigation for fraud ongoing. Quite a few angry customers who didn’t get their dream car, despite putting tidy sums of money down for that express privilege, as well as vehicle owners who never received the proceeds for the sale of their ride, spurred owner Stephen Phelps to apologize during a bankruptcy creditor meeting recently.
FSD Hot Rod Ranch was both buying and selling classic cars up until fall 2023 when it abruptly closed its doors. However, there were signs of trouble before, with owners who had consigned their vehicles filing lawsuits against the company, alleging they were never paid once a sales transaction was completed. Buyers also filed suit, claiming they never received title for their purchase.
With the complaints mounting, FSD (which stands for Father, Son, Daughter, closed its doors forever. However, an Orlando-area station, News 6, uncovered that both the Eustis Police Department and FBI are conducting criminal fraud investigations into the defunct dealer.
It sounds like plenty of people showed up to the bankruptcy creditors meeting, considering News 6 says there are nearly 100 of them listed in court paperwork. The business’ financial liabilities reportedly exceed $4,000,000.
The owner of FSD, Stephen Phelps, told the court about 40 vehicle transactions had become “troublesome” after he says the business successfully completed around 160 transactions. “We were struggling to pay our overhead and pay people that we owed,” said Phelps.
Just a few years ago, it appeared business was booming at FSD Hot Rod Ranch (see a local profile of the business from three years ago in the included video). We’ve seen classic and collector car dealers fold literally overnight with few warnings. Same goes for consigning your classic ride – you’re putting a lot of trust in the dealer.
If this puts you on edge about doing such a transaction, sadly it’s wise to be at least somewhat paranoid and do research before plunking a large sum of money down. After all, if the dealer enters bankruptcy before you get your car, you’re likely out the money and will never see that vehicle.
Image via YouTube
Source: News 6
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