How much is a $500,000 gearbox/transmission worth?

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The world’s most expensive car is at the center of a High Court battle between a dealer and an American collector, as a judge must decide who is entitled to the $48 million vehicle’s gearbox.

Gregor Fisken, 55, a London classic supercar trader, bought the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO in October 2017 on the understanding that its missing original gearbox would be sourced.

However, when the seller, Bernard Carl, a Washington lawyer, failed to hand over the part, Mr Fisken sued for breach of contract.

Mr. Carl, in turn, claims Mr. Fisken breached the terms of their contract by refusing to travel to California to collect the gearbox, meaning he no longer has any rights to it. He is demanding that Mr. Fisken pay $500,000 (£380,000) to cover his efforts in locating the “unique and special” gearbox, which is being held by a classic car dealer in the US.

Just 39 of the Ferraris were built between 1962 and 1964 and the model is considered the holy grail among collectors. The $44 million Mr. Fisken paid is the highest publicly verified sale price of a car.

The second GTO ever built, it has an illustrious history, having been driven to first in class and second overall at the 1962 “12 Hours of Sebring” endurance race in Florida.

After Mr. Fisken’s company GFL bought it in 2017, it was immediately sold on to an anonymous collector.

However, Mr Carl said the US dealer in possession of the gearbox wanted $25,000 to hand it over, the court heard. Tension grew when the two dealers tried to arrange its delivery to England, quarrelling over who should pay the release fee and shipping costs.

Mr. Carl claims Mr. Fisken refused to collect the gearbox from California and this “repudiated” the contract, so GFL no longer hold any title to it.

He also argues that GFL does not have any right to sue for breach of contract because Mr. Fisken sold the car straight away, so he was “merely acting as an agent for a principal”.

In the witness box, Mr. Carl said he had offered both the car and the gearbox to Mr. Fisken’s company, but at a higher price of $44.5 million. The extra $500,000 was due under the contract for his work in locating and obtaining the gearbox, he said.

William Hooper, for GFL, told the court: “Mr. Carl undertook to use his best efforts to recover and deliver up the gearbox, in consideration for Gregor Fisken Ltd accepting the GTO without it.” Mr. Carl claimed he had previously been willing to give Mr. Fisken the gearbox, telling the judge in evidence: “The gearbox and the GTO are worth more together than apart. It makes commercial sense [to unite them] and I never opposed the idea.”

Mr. Fisken argues that GFL would routinely need to have a buyer lined up before entering into an agreement such as the one with Mr. Carl, so this does not “repudiate” their contract.

Mr. Hooper said: “GFL is a high-end classic car dealer … as a dealer, GFL needed to have its own buyer lined up prior to entering into a contract with Mr. Carl. The gearbox was included in the price of the GTO … cash consideration for the gearbox was clearly paid as part of the price for the GTO.”

Mr. Fisken is insisting on being given the gearbox rather than cash in kind, as it will return the vehicle to its “original and complete state”.

Mr. Hooper said: “The gearbox is unique and special. Damages would be inadequate. The restoration of original parts  to cars of this nature is of great significance. This is not simply about the unique nature of the gearbox itself, but the restoration of the GTO’s provenance.” The hearing in London continues.

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The world’s most expensive car is at the center of a High Court battle between a dealer and an American collector, as a judge must decide who is entitled to the $48 million vehicle’s gearbox. Gregor Fisken, 55, a London classic supercar trader, bought the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO in October 2017 on the understanding that its missing original gearbox would be sourced. However, when the seller, Bernard Carl, a Washington lawyer, failed to hand over the part, Mr Fisken sued for breach of contract.

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How much is a $500,000 gearbox/transmission worth?