I think most people are over complicating it. Ron summed up the replica market nicely. It isn't going to change radically any time soon. Deposit insurance isn't difficult to obtain. Go to virtually any decent insurance agent, explain you want to buy a replica car in a fickle industry and that you are paying in milestones. Explain your concerns about bankruptcy etc. Then get them to provide a quote for insuring your deposit against the company failing. It will cost you a bit extra, your premium should go up as you pay more and more deposit, but ultimatly the insurance cost is born by the customer.
In all seriousness, in spite of RF's recent demise the GT40 replica car industry isn't massively more risky then most others. Companies are not failing every week. Any decent insurance company will design you a product to suit your needs.
To state the obvious yet again, the major problem is the possession / ownership / location of the WIP (partially completed vehicles) which is unlike the example of the pool, house or similar property. Would it be feasible to enter into lets say four individual contracts for four individual stages of the build. At the end of each stage the customer can verify that the currently contracted stage is complete, sign off the contract to that effect and pay the appropriate sum of money for that stage. The customer and supplier can then enter into a new contract for the next stage of works to an agreed scope and cost. The partially completed product that is now owned by the customer is then supplied back to the manufacturer for the purpose of completing the newly agreed and contracted scope of work.
Now lets assume that the partially completed vehicle, which is now owned by the customer, is worth $20,000.00 and the manufacturer goes into receivership half way through the currently contracted stage of work, which is worth another $20,000.00. My assumption would be that the owner of the partially completed vehicle will be entitled to reclaim his/ her property and would only be liable for the completed portion of the current contract. If in the worst case scenario, there was a deposit paid lets say 20% or $4000.00 and no work had been completed the net loss would be $4000.00 which is a lot more bearable than the 20% of $100,000.00 and worse again as Jonathan has said, would be getting 99% of the way through the build and payments and then lose everything. For overseas customers the only hurdle would then be the verification stage, which I am sure, could be easily overcome. I now know (20/20 hindsight) that if I were buying a similar product overseas I would be looking at employing a project manager to be my eyes and ears for the duration of the contract. It would probably only take one or two visits a month to keep things on track and verify the status of proceedings. This would be an inexpensive insurance and peace of mind in the scheme of things.
You can do this with one contract; I use this in construction contracts for staged completion, which is a stipulation within the contract recognising possession of that particular stage by the client by a certain date with damages clauses as back-up. The builder then moves on to the next stage etc. This is all contained within the one contract.
Could be onerous for a car, but I've seen these used in $80-100k residential developments, so it is possible.
Hilly, and Bill seam to have it. What I suggest is the buyer in effect buys the car in stages. This means that in the event of a company going out of business the buyers property would revert back to the owner.
Think of it as if you had your chevy pick-up's transmission replaced and while the truck was at the repair shop the repair shop went out of business. I believe that when the owner showed the court proof of ownership the truck would be released to the owner. You might have to take it home without the rebuilt transmission, unless it was in the truck, but I think you would get the truck back.
Or you could have the pieces shipped to you upon completion. First the bare chassis, then the rest of the suspension, fiberglass, and the rest. The worst case would be ending up with less than a full parts complement. I really don't like this one but if the builder was near by it could work. Then the paid for parts would be in your garage.
The thing is there is a way to do this where both parties are protected in the event that the other party doesnt perform.
I agree that it does not matter where the company is located that the result of a bankruptcy is the same. My point on the overseas company was simply that you couldn’t just pop over and check the status of the car.
I like Hilly's suggestion of a project manager but it is hard to know who to trust on the other side of the world.
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I applaud Fran/RCR for being to the first to express that desire on this forum and invite other manufacturers who have been reading these posts to join in the discussion, too.
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Yeah, great to hear, but really not surprising. I already know Peter Ransom of GT40 Australia(DRB) is already doing something about this. He knows exactly what this news means to his business and it's definitely not good news. So just because manufacturers don't post their intentions here, don't assume nothing is being done. I would expect most are investigating and changing the way things are done.
It's a tricky situation though with deposits & progress payments. Not really a problem for plain chassis or simple roller. But a big problem for turnkey & turnkey-- Some good suggestions here though.