OAK RIDGE (WATE) – Classic sports cars can be a lot of fun, but maintaining them can be expensive. A man in Oak Ridge took his old Porsche to a mechanic more than three years ago, but he’s still waiting for it to be repaired.
The mechanic who was paid to work on the car owns a repair shop for exotic European models. WATE 6 On Your Side ran into him a few months ago, shortly before he was ordered by a Knox County judge to return an old Mercedes to one of his customers who had waited 18 months for his car to be fixed. This time the model of the car is a Porsche, but the circumstances are similar.
Oak Ridge DUI defense attorney Michael Ritter considers himself a patient man, but his patience has run out with a man he trusted to fix his 1988 944 Porsche.
Robert Berry is the shop owner Ritter once trusted. His garage is where the Porsche was last seen 3 1/2 years ago when it was taken to Berry’s repair shop, Eurohaus Motorsports of Knoxville.
The last time I saw it, the hood was up, the engine was gone,” said Ritter.
Ritter left the car with Berry in March 2012 after being told there were a number of things wrong with the engine. Ritter paid $12,000 and was told the car would be finished in April 2012.
“It’s bizarre to experience something like that. Like, I don’t know where my car is,” he said.
When he visited Berry’s shop early last month, the place was closed. The garage, once filled with exotic vehicles, is now empty. The owner of the building said Berry moved out in early September. There’s a sign on the door from Knox County, but no information left for customers who might be looking for their cars.
Ritter says Berry never told him he was going to move or where he could find his car.
WATE 6 on Your Side found Eurohaus Motorsports in Lenoir City. There were two Porsches in the lot, but neither belonged to Ritter, nor was his car behind the front door.
Berry says he knows where Ritter’s Porsche is, but wouldn’t say where because he was angry.
“You need to tell him to get his camera off of me, and get off this property,” he said.
Instead of answering questions, he played hard to get. However, in early August, Berry was forced to respond to Judge Tony Stanberry’s questions. The court ordered Berry to return A 1968 Mercedes to it’s owner. Berry had been paid in advance, yet after 18 months he hadn’t fixed it.
Ryan McElveen eventually got his Mercedes back in late August and he had another mechanic finish the job.
Berry said it was none of our business where Ritter’s or any of his other customers’ cars are.
“Well, right now I don’t know whether or not, he stole my car. I really do believe that is theft,” said Ritter.
Eventually, we got Berry in touch with Ritter. He was told the car is in storage and Berry saidhe’ll finish the job soon.
The general rule of thumb in paying a mechanic to work on a classic car is that you agree to a payment schedule in advance, but you don’t pay all of the money in advance. Most shops require a down payment, and then you pay more as the work is completed.
Ritter says he should have known better than to hand Berry $12,000 up front, but he trusted him.