Classic Crime Leaves Dozens With Paid For Unrestored Vehicles

Classic Crime
Matthew Slater devastated - Image courtesy BBC

Inexperience and naivety when joining the classic car world can sometimes mean the opposite of the cash cow dream.

The BBC reported that dozens of classic vehicle owners had been stripped of not only their pride and joy, but also some well earned cash by a now invisible ‘entrepreneur’ who decided to give his bank balance some restoration, instead of the cars he was trusted with.

Approximately 40 ‘customers’ say Christopher Handford has taken their money for work that was not and will never be carried out.

Classic Crime Restoration Business

Handford’s restoration business has now raked in nearly £300,000 from disgruntled punters to North West Mini Motors in Glossop, Derbyshire.

New owners of the same garage say the classic restorer vanished in October, leaving a vintage scrapyard behind him.

Upset friend and customer, Matthew Slater said:
“I’m devestated it has cost me more than £20,000.

“I was promised two full restorations and that has just not happened, I just got empty promises.

“I have known him for six years and he should not have done this to a friend, let alone anyone else.”

Classic Crime
Classic Mini said to be stripped and left – Image courtesy BBC

Another loyal Mini Club member, Will Taylor also sent a car to Mr Handford said of his experience:
“It went in as a nice show car – polished, clean, shiny wheels.

“There’s actually more rust on it now than when it went in.

“I considered us quite close friends – obviously friends shouldn’t do this to each other.”

Classic Crime
Beverley Hulme’s classic Mini – Un-restored but intact – Image courtesy BBC

Lucky Escape

Beverley Hulme had a lucky escape when her car was found ‘intact’ and untouched, however was still out of pocket. The Mini classic was said to be part of the family history for over 40 years and is exactly as it was before parting with the cash to restore it to former glory.

Beverley said:
“We’re actually one of the fortunate victims in so much as he hasn’t actually been touched and we’ve got it back.

“There’s a lot of people who are in a lot worse position.

“We gave stage payments based on confirmation from Chris Handford in the form of emails/photographs that work had been undertaken at various stages over an extended period of time.

“We did not pay in full up front.

“There could be potentially so many more [victims] out there that we can’t get hold of.

“It’s a case of making sure he doesn’t do this again and take money from other people.”

The BBC reports it has repeatedly tried to reach Mr Handford for comment.

Derbyshire Police has confirmed it is investigating.

Have you been a victim of similar classic crime?

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  1. I initially had a backyard body man who had done work for a car club, work on the restoration of my 1965 Austin-Healey. Turns out I got my car to him just as he got into drugs. He skipped with the car after the place he was living/working in had a grow op fire. We tracked him down and went to the police. The police here in British Columbia Canada told us they couldn’t help us, it was a civil suit. Moreover, they cautioned that if we went to get the car back, I had better have my receipts with me from the guy or else he could call them and say I was taking the car without paying and they would charge me! They also said if we took the car we had to take pictures of this backyard body man helping us load it or else he could say to the police he had been coerced. So my friend and I visited the bodyman who had stole my austin-healey. By way of background I’m a former provincial boxing champ and my friend is 6’4″ and spent 40% of his junior hockey career in the penalty box. Miraculously we had no trouble convincing the bodyman to help us load my healey onto a flatbed so we could take it. Got some great pics of him helping out…at the end as we were leaving he did start beaking off and my friend walked back and said to him if that had been his car, the bodyman would be dead by now. Again, miraculously, the chirping stopped!!! Praise Jesus!! I did win a subsequent small claims court case against the bodyman, but it never actually got any money back. All of his assets were in his wife’s name, so it was what they call here a “dry judgement”. Lesson learned. I got my car to a reputable restoration shop. Today I have a beautiful fully restored 1965 austin-healey 3000 mkIII that has been featured “Miss October 2016” in collector car calendars…happy ending to a long journey, with little help from local police..

    • Wise words!

      Many in the modern classic era have a “quick cash – low input” attitude, which if exploited can lead to fingers burnt. Reputable only is the only way when dealing with large sums. We would also recommend stage payements, without full until everyone is satisfied. The end product is much more beneficial allround.

      Great story!

  2. Just to confirm, we gave stage payments based on confirmation from Chris Handford in the form of emails/photographs that work had been undertaken at various stages over an extended period of time. We did not pay in full up front.

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