Classic Recreations and its owner, Jason Engel, are back at work cranking out jaw-dropping interpretations of the Shelby GT500 CR. Early last month, the restoration shop was raided by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. According to Classic Recreations, a former disgruntled employee made false accusations to the OSBI about stolen equipment. Authorities even confiscated multiple vintage Ford Mustangs during the raid, but found no pilfered hardware. Instead, the investigators determined that Engel had not followed proper protocol when replacing rusty sheet metal on the Blue Ovals – specifically where the VIN plate is attached to the vehicle.
The OSBI determined that Classic Recreations couldn't replace rusty metal around the VIN tag without completely retitling the vehicle – something that should concern anyone with an interest in putting an old car back on the road. Engel said that the OSBI's findings will only serve to drive up costs for both his shop and his customers as instead of being able to start with a rusty shell, he will now have to start with higher quality donors. We're guessing the Ford purists out there will be none too happy about that fact, either.
In the meantime, Classic Recreations is carefully inspecting the confiscated cars, detailing them and getting the wild ponies back to their rightful owners. Past that, Engel says that he is working with state legislators to more clearly define what can and cannot be replaced on a vehicle during a restoration. From the sound of things, that's something that parties on both side of the issue can agree upon. Hit the jump for the full press release.
After weeks of accusations and red tape, Owner Jason Engel warns shops and enthusiasts: "Pay attention to what happened here, because it effects all of us."
Yukon, Okla. (Aug 9, 2010) – Custom coachbuilder Classic Recreations has had its vehicles returned and is back at work building 1967 Shelby G.T.500CR continuation cars after several weeks of confusion, red tape and accusations from local officials. The Oklahoma based shop, recognized by collectors and the automotive press for crafting some of the finest muscle cars in the world, was temporarily sidelined last month when false accusations from a disgruntled ex-employee led the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations to raid the shop looking for stolen equipment - of which absolutely none was found.
In the process of the investigation, state officials determined shop owner Jason Engel did not follow state guidelines during the restoration process by replacing damaged or rusted factory sheet metal on his Mustang builds with aftermarket components. A series of legal arguments over the definition of restoration protocol ensued, with the government stating that shop owners in Oklahoma cannot replace the factory sheet metal with aftermarket parts during the restoration process without re-titling the car.
"I have always been totally focused on quality and customer satisfaction, and we spare no expense when building a client their perfect dream car. Now the government wants to tell me how to run my business and which panels I can or cannot replace," says Engel. "Laws were created to protect people from car thieves, now the government is reinterpreting those laws to go after restoration shops, and it makes keeping classic cars on the road very difficult. If I can't replace a rusty door because the VIN can't be touched, that means rather than starting with a rough but restorable classic and transforming it into a beautiful supercar, I have to start with an essentially perfect car - which raises prices and upsets collectors."
As the CR crew gets back to work building Shelby Mustangs, the returned cars will be inspected, detailed and delivered to clients. Engel is extremely grateful for his clients' patience and understanding during this ordeal. Moving forward, new steps will be taken to ensure current interpretations of the law are met and this does not happen again.
"I want our story to serve as a warning to every shop owner and hobbyist out there: we need to take action to preserve our hobby and limit government intervention in the classic car world by defining what we can and can't do," Engel says. "What happened to me could happen to anyone. I run an honest business, employing over 20 people. We build beautiful cars for collectors. We are working with state legislators to pass a bill that clearly defines what a restoration shop is allowed to do so we're all on the same page, and we need your support. I am eager to speak with automotive journalists and fellow enthusiasts about my experience."