Back in 2022, former Formula 1 champion Jenson Button sold a restored 1970 Ford Bronco on Collecting Cars for $166,000. While a restored Bronco typically isn't worth anywhere near that sort of money, Button's ownership dramatically increased its value. However, the buyer has since cried foul, claiming that Button didn't technically own the Bronco. He's now suing the racing driver.
The buyer of Button's Bronco was British businessman Leo Eccles, who willingly paid a massive premium over a typical classic Bronco to have one owned by the 2009 world champ. However, according to Eccles, when he received the vintage SUV, he realized that the previous legal owner was Button's then-girlfriend, American model Brittany Ward. Button and Ward were together at the time of the sale, and they're now married, so the car does have a real connection to Button, who was publicly spotted driving it on more than one occasion. But that's arguably different, from a value perspective, from him actually owning it—especially if the Collecting Cars listing claimed it was Button's.
"It has been in Jenson’s ownership for the last four years, and features a raft of discerning upgrades," said the listing. During an interview with the Collecting Cars podcast, Button claimed "I've got a Bronco, which is actually really not mine, it's my missus' car, but I'll say it's mine."
It's possible Button bought the car for Ward and, according to the Daily Mail, the court documents claim that Button even offered to re-register the Bronco in his name. The court documents also claim that Eccles asked Button to make certain modifications to the car before delivering it, such as adding rear seatbelts, and Button obliged. Eccles also reportedly asked Button to store the Bronco until he could arrange shipment and registration, and Button accommodated that request, too.
Now, though, Eccles wants the sale overturned and his money back due to the ownership inconsistency. Button is now fighting back against Eccles, with a claim of "defamatory relief," and saying Eccles is trying to back out of the deal, due to an inability to register the car in South Africa, where he's currently traveling.
If both sides' claims are true, it seems like Button's being pretty reasonable, offering to re-register the Bronco in his name, paying for modifications, and storing the car for Eccles since the sale. It's unclear if Ward bought the Bronco herself or if Button bought it for her, but it was clearly a car the F1 champ drove. He's also now married to the owner, making it a family car of his.
A simple sale is turning into a messy legal battle. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, and whether Eccles eventually takes delivery or forces Button into a refund.
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