Anyone who's ever been hesitant to hand over their keys to another driver, or conversely to get behind the wheel of someone else's car – exotic or otherwise – will want to take note of the following story currently being played out on the internet's extensive web of car enthusiast forums.
The story revolves around a Ford GT – one of the finest exotics ever produced by an American automaker – its customization, and its unfortunate demise. The car – in classic Gulf baby blue and orange heritage livery and outfitted with twin turbochargers – belongs to one Ray Hofman, who wanted to have some modifications carried out to make it more drivable in advance of a Ford GT rally event. Having struck out with other tuners, Ray turned to Bill Knobloch of Discovery Automotive, better known to forum members as Shadowman. Bill agreed to carry out the tuning Ray was looking for, handed over the keys, and from there things went downhill in more ways than one. Follow the jump to read on.
[Sources: Bimmerboost, Ford GT Forum]
The driver's account of the situation unfolds on Ford GT Forum as follows: After examining the car in his garage and asking for (and receiving) Ray's insurance and registration papers, Bill (a.k.a. Shadowman) says he took the GT out onto the open road to examine the behavior of the turbo boost. He claims he was driving slowly along the highway when he inexplicably lost control of the car, spun off the road, and the next thing he knew, he was climbing out of a ravine, the car laying damaged below. Bill was briefly hospitalized, but released within hours, after which he contacted Ray (the owner) to let him know that he'd been in an accident. He said he couldn't get close enough to the car after the crash to determine the extent of the damage, but that he assessed that more damage would likely be caused by the tow truck extracting the car from the ravine than had been incurred in the crash itself. He couldn't explain how the car spun out of control, but he apparently noted that this sort of outcome was precisely why he had made sure to arrange the insurance papers ahead of time.
The car owner paints quite a different picture on Bimmerboost's forums. According to Ray, he received an email from Bill informing him that he was taking the car out on the road, but didn't hear back from him until the next day when he was informed of the supposedly "minor" crash. With little information to go by, Ray flew out to Los Angeles where Bill's garage is located and where the crash occurred. Arriving at the tow company, Ray immediately saw that his car suffered significantly more damage than he expected. Proceeding out to the scene of the crash with the tow truck driver (who allegedly described that stretch of highway as the local drag strip and the apparent driver as a "pilot"), Ray could see skid marks on the road (contrary to Bill's account) and the broken trees as high as 30 feet in the air. He and the tow truck driver surmised that Bill must have hit a tree on the side of the road, spun around 180 degrees, flown off the highway backwards, and struck another tree, which shattered the transaxle and pushed the engine through the bulkhead.
Both driver and owner – as well as the highway patrolman on the scene – agreed that it was a miracle that Bill walked away essentially unscathed from the crash. Unfortunately that's where their thoughts splits. Bill claims that the liability for the damage to the car is entirely the responsibility of the car's owner, and that as a small business, he doesn't carry a policy for such cases. Ray says he gave Bill ample opportunity to make it right, but that Bill deflected any responsibility for having totaled his exotic while adding a personal injury claim onto the Ray's insurance. One way or another, it's quite the mess. For our part we're just glad we're not the ones who have to sort it out. Thanks for the tip, Jeff!