Father and Son Swindled Classic Car Owners Out of More Than $600,000

It’s hard not to love a classic car. Vintage old styling, carefully loved and maintained over decades of life by owners who are passionate about the craft. The classic car community is large and diverse, drawing in enthusiasts from all walks of life. Classic car consignment is one of the ways that owners can sell a vehicle that’s no longer bringing them joy. Owners can put the money made through consignment toward their next classic car project. But, it’s not always that easy.

At the end of April, economic crimes investigators in Orange County, Florida, busted a father-and-son duo who owned a classic car consignment company. Police claimed their company, Just Toys Classic Cars, had swindled owners out of more than $600,000.

Just Toys? More like just a scam

A black classic convertible with the roof down. These types of classic cars are sometimes sold through consignment.
Classic car | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

The consignment company “Just Toys” is no longer in business. But, when it was open, Michael Dean Smith Sr. and his son, Michael Smith Jr., took in classic cars of all makes, models, and ages on consignment. However, some owners dropped off their cars with Just Toys and never heard from the business. 

WESH in Orlando reports that owners waited longer than they anticipated for word from Just Toys about their consigned cars. When the vehicles’ owners (or potentially former owners) reached out to the company directly, Smith Sr. or his son claimed: “the car was sold or about to be sold and ask for more time.” Even pushier owners got a run-around from Just Toys. But, even they were given “various excuses for why they had not received their funds.”

The police report claims there were 21 vehicles consigned by 20 victims. The value of the cars totaled $614,000. Just Toys Classic Cars closed in December 2019, two months after losing its license to deal cars. Both Smith Sr. and Jr. are currently facing charges of fraud and racketeering.

Is selling your car on consignment a good idea?

Three classic cars on a consignment lot: blue, teal, and red.
Classic car consignment | Mark Duffel via Unsplash

The story of Just Toys Classic Cars isn’t the first example of customers getting swindled by phony offers. Last year, nearly 50 consumers reported a supercar dealer who sold their cars and kept all the money. In January, a man pled guilty to scamming luxury car owners out of over $1.5 million through a “lease consignment” program. 

There are some horror stories surrounding car consignment, especially for cool old classic cars, but it can work out if you work with the right people. If you do sell a classic car on consignment, you won’t have to do the legwork or heavy lifting yourself. Also, you’ll never have to meet a sketchy stranger in a parking lot for a view or a test drive. Finally, you won’t need to worry about transporting the car to its new owner.

The downsides include classic car consignment fees, which may be high and leave you with less profit than you thought. You also run the risk of a company hoodwinking you, like the consumers that Just Toys cheated.

How do consignment car sales work?

When someone consigns a car, the legal owner of the vehicle signs paperwork with the consignment company then leaves the car at the consignment lot and lets the company do the rest of the work. The consignment company is responsible for advertising or networking the vehicle, dealing with prospective buyers, and handling the actual sale.

After the sale is complete, the car’s original owner gets the bulk of the sale price. According to Exotic Car Trader, the percentage of car consignment fees compared to the total sale price is usually between five and 15%. Some companies charge a flat fee of around $250 to $1,000. 

Safer ways to sell a classic car

Close up of a steering wheel on an old classic car. Many classic cars are consigned
Classic car | Ash Edmonds via Unsplash

If you want to go the consignment route, there are ways to do it right. Be sure to only work with consignment dealers who have an excellent reputation, and look carefully over the vehicle consignment agreement before you sign it.

If you’re looking for other options, you’re in luck. Read through MotorBiscuit’s Step-By-Step Guide to Selling a Classic Car to learn the best ways to sell a unique or vintage car to get the most out of it—and the most peace of mind.

Keep scrolling to read about how the classic car community stays connected.

RELATED: Classic Car Designer Is Still Creating Automotive Art 70 Years Later