Texas resident Roman Satur purchased a 2001 Porsche Carrera Cabriolet and took it for a little spin.
He came across a driver in a Nissan 350ZX. They both hit the gas. The other driver pulled away and left Satur and his $96,500 car in his dust.
"It made me really mad that this kid in a little Japanese car just blew the doors off me," Satur said. "So I said, ‘Well, you know what? I believe I’m going to turbocharge this thing.’ "
He ordered $30,000 worth of work from PowerHaus Corp., a Scottsdale custom car garage that specializes in Porsches. The car was shipped to Arizona on Nov. 18, 2002.
He hasn’t seen it since.
The episode has developed into a high-dollar stalemate with no easy legal remedy.
"I gave the guy the benefit of the doubt a little bit more than I should have," said Satur, 48, owner of MJS Janitorial Inc. in Mansfield, Texas.
PowerHaus owner David Raines told the Tribune the job has taken longer than he expected, but he is reluctant to return the car until the job meets his specifications.
"I warranty what I build and what I sell," he said, adding the car will be ready in a month — maybe.
Satur said he has heard similar promises for three years. He has found little legal recourse in obtaining its return. Officials with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and Scottsdale Police Department told him they’re powerless to assist.
"We tried to mediate on his behalf, but there was nothing else we could do to resolve this," said Mirna Orellana, a legal assistant in the Consumer Information and Complaints Department of the attorney general’s office. The agency is prohibited by law from representing individual consumers.
PowerHaus has come across a number of difficulties, Raines wrote in a Nov. 21, 2005, e-mail to Orellana.
"Yes we have missed our target dates big-time but we have his car and every part . . . that the customer has paid for, so other than time (he) will be made whole," Raines wrote.
The problems cited in the e-mail were dealing with a new engine design; purchasing shop manuals and tools for the job; ordering and altering special parts made in Germany; and seeking a new mechanic after the first one quit.
"At the end of last year we had a running car, but it did not perform as expected," Raines stated in the e-mail.
Orellana suggested Satur contact a private attorney to pursue the matter through the courts. That option would cost at least $30,000, Satur said.
The garage owner reiterated the reasons for the delay in an interview with the Tribune. "We build high-performance Porsche motors and we’ve built everything known to man or made by Porsche into a turbo motor. His 2001 was a new type of engine," Raines said.
Raines stopped returning Satur’s telephone calls and emails months ago, Satur said. Raines also ignored a May 5, 2005, letter by Satur’s attorney demanding PowerHaus return the car and the payment for the work, Satur said.
Raines said his computer system malfunctioned, so he was unable to e-mail his client, but he contacted Satur on Tuesday, the day the Tribune sought to speak to him about the matter. Raines said he was only out of telephone contact for a few weeks during the holiday season.
The two don’t even agree about the original terms of the overhaul. Satur said the job originally was slated for six weeks; Raines said it was six months.
Satur, an avid car collector, never obtained a warranty or an estimate from PowerHaus, because such documents aren’t typical at high-end car shops, he said. "It’s all reputation and word, so to speak," Satur said.
The garage’s Web site calls PowerHaus, "No. 1 in high performance upgrades!" The site also cites several positive articles in European Car and Excellence magazines.