Decision causes car’s value to nosedive; claimant says he wouldn’t have bought car if case had been processed sooner

A former racing driver is suing the DVLA for stripping his AC Cobra of its historic status, causing the car to lose £150,000 in value.

A close friend of the late motorbike racing legend Barry Sheen, Julian Seddon purchased what he thought was a 1964 AC Cobra for £250,000. But the DVLA revealed that the car had instead been built only in 2002 using ‘old and new parts’.

As a result, 75-year-old Seddon decided to sell the Cobra from his 20-strong car collection, as it was no longer considered an historic vehicle, which also meant it was not subject to road-tax exemption.

He received only £100,000 for the car following the ruling, and is now claiming that the DVLA failed to warn him.

Seddon’s barrister, John Black QC, told the High Court that Seddon believed the Cobra’s now-void logbook – which listed the car’s tax status as historic and a first registration date of 1964 – ‘confirmed that the DVLA must have been satisfied as to the provenance of the car in order to register it as an historic vehicle’.

Black also alleges that the DVLA ‘made a conscious decision’ to delay an investigation into the car’s history until after the vehicle has been sold to Seddon. Two months before Seddon purchased the Cobra, the DVLA already ‘had reason to suspect that the integrity was in doubt’, Black added.

In response, the DVLA argues that it does not owe a ‘duty of care’ to buyers, and that the car’s logbook cannot be taken as proof of its age and provenance.

A ruling will be made at a later date.