A businessman whose beloved Porsche 911 turned into a £140,000 money pit is facing financial meltdown after losing a six-year legal battle.
Model shop owner Damian Markland thought he had gone to motoring heaven in 2007 when he shelled out £48,000 for the top-of-the-range GT3 Mk1.
Although it was seven years old and had 26,000 miles on the clock, it had a service history of regular maintenance with both Porsche and specialist mechanics. However, he soon noticed his pride and joy lacked power and its hand-made engine kept conking out.
The 34-year-old, from Goosnargh, took it to the specialist Porsche Centre Bolton, run by Pendragon Sabre Ltd, to see if they could solve the problems. The car was fitted with a new engine temperature sensor and a fresh set of tyres, but still the car did not perform as he expected, and, in November 2007, a valve head broke and the engine needed a complete re-build.
Mr Markland, who runs Speedy Models, in Garstang Road, Broughton, took it back to Pendragon Sabre complaining of a noisy exhaust, oil in the engine compartment and heavy steering.
Lord Justice Longmore told London’s Civil Appeal Court that, in May 2008, the car failed its MoT because it turned out its rear wheels had been fitted the wrong way round. Eventually, Mr Markland took his car to a top Porsche specialist in Oxford where faults were found, including that the throttle cable was not properly connected to the engine.
He took Pendragon Sabre to a county court, claiming the garage had let him down and failed to care for his car properly. He claimed more than £40,000 in damages, but got a shock when a judge awarded him less than £1,000 in relation to the throttle cable after preferring the garage’s expert evidence.
As Pendragon Sabre had earlier offered Mr Markland more than that to settle his claim, he was ordered to pay the company’s £34,000 legal costs bills.
Mr Markland pleaded with Lord Justice Longmore to overturn that decision and send the case back to the county court for re-hearing.
However, while expressing sympathy for the devastated car enthusiast, the judge said his appeal stood no reasonable prospect of success and he would only be exposing him to the risk of yet bigger costs bills if he allowed his case to go any further.
The judge said: “It is terrible that you feel that you have not been properly served by the system. But, while having every sympathy for you, it is impossible to see that there was any error of law in the judge’s decision.
“I am afraid that you got your fingers burned very badly and I’m sorry about that.”
The judge said Mr Markland had to deal with many difficult litigants and told him: “You have been charm itself.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Markland said he faced potential financial ruin.
He said: “I’m going to have to sell the car to pay the court costs. My business could go under; I will have to sell my model shop and I will probably lose my home.”
As well as the original cost of the car, Mr Markland said he had spent about £40,000 on repairs.
On top of the £34,000 he must now pay to Pendragon Sabre’s lawyers, he said will also have to pay his own legal team, who represented him at the county court hearing.
He said: “My solicitors sent me a bill for £15,000. I rang them up and said, ‘What’s this? You said it was no win, no fee’.
“They said, ‘You’ve won, so you have to pay all our costs’. I only won £1,000, but they said that’s still a win.”
Mr Markland said he felt the judge had not listened to the details of his appeal when he spoke in court.
He said: “He just read out what the old judge had said. It’s his job to listen to what I said and judge on that. But I think he had already made his mind up before he came out.
“A faulty throttle wouldn’t make a car fail the MoT on emissions. It was the hydraulic lifter they put in which failed.
“I will never ever buy another Porsche – it has given me years of complete stress.”