Scores of classic car enthusiasts have been defrauded after a classic Mini restorer has allegedly fled with over £300,000
Derbyshire police has confirmed that an investigation has been launched after an estimated 40 car enthusiasts claimed to have been the targets of fraud by Christopher Hanford, a businessman who ran a vehicle restoration specialist.
Working under the company name of ‘North West Mini Motors’, based in Glossop, Derbyshire, customers paid large sums of money to have their pride-and-joys given professional TLC. However, Mr Hanford disappeared in October last year leaving a mass graveyard of parts in his wake.
Nearly £300,000 is thought to have been paid to North West Mini Motors before the new owners took the reins. Leaving bodyshells, engine blocks and other items behind, the BBC has repeatedly asked Christopher Hanford for comment but to no avail.
Car owner Matthew Slater spoke with BBC News and explained how he was left £20,000 out of pocket. He felt ‘devastated’ after clapping eyes on the cars he left with the company, finding his classics stripped of engines, doors and steering columns.
‘I was promised two full restorations and that has just not happened, I just got empty promises.’
Mr Slater had known Christopher Hanford for over six years, but he wasn’t the only close friend to have been mugged. Will Taylor, who met Hanford through a Mini owners club, handed across a show car for some work to be carried out.
‘There is 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.’
Beverly Hulme lost £7000 on a Mini that had been with her family for more than 40 years. After hearing nothing back for a matter of weeks she began reading ‘quite scary’ reviews for the company. Her car was found in exactly the same condition as it had been when handed over for repairs. She was lucky to get the vehicle back and felt prompted to help others.
‘There could be potentially so many more [victims] out there that we can’t get a hold of,’ she told the BBC.
If ever there has been a story to highlight the importance of keeping close contact with your restorer, and to see your car regularly, this is it.
Pictures courtesy of Richard Dredge, BBC News and Volkszone forum