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Monday, 16 April 2012

Brewer v Mann: another vintage Bentley

No sooner had my earlier article on Old Number One Bentley been written than I had the pleasant surprise of reading about another mechanical survivor from the blood and thunder days of the Bentley Boys featuring in court. Once again the question of originality arose in the context of a classic Bentley whose purchaser alleged it was not the car they had thought it to be.

The case was brought by the ironically named Mercedes Brewer against the well-known vintage Bentley dealer Stanley Mann, his company and a finance company. Mrs Brewer, with the finance company’s help, paid £425,000 for a 1930 “Speed Six” model sold by Mr Mann.

After a year’s happy motoring Mrs Mann suddenly stopped paying the hire instalments. She contacted an auction house, who said that the car was unworthy of the description “Speed Six”, because that applied to a particular type of engine which had only been added to her car during a later restoration. Meanwhile, the finance company had repossessed the car and sold it back to Mr Mann for the same price as Mrs Brewer had paid. Mr Mann then restored it further and sold it on for some £675,000.

At that point, one might have assumed, there would be no dispute – Mrs Brewer had disposed of the car, the finance company had got its money back and Mr Mann had made a profit. Yet the first two were still unhappy: Mrs Brewer felt she had been misled, while the finance company had incurred costs of about £61,000 in recovering and storing the car before Mr Mann bought it back. Mrs Brewer was first out of the blocks issuing proceedings.

Continue reading here or see the New Law Journal, vol 176, 6 & 13 April 2012, p 510. This article will also form part of my forthcoming book Law Stories.

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