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Interesting step back in time video and written summary of the demise of CMC.

Classic Motor Carriages Inc. History

Classic Motor Carriages at one time the largest specialty car company in the world. They operated out of a 160,000 sqft manufacturing facility just outside of Miami Florida. The company started as Tiffany Motor Cars in Oka lopa Florida and was owned by Charlie Massing.Massing had 13 employees and built the Gazelle.

The company was purchased by George Levin sometime around 1978. Shorty after he purchased the company he started a marketing blitz . There was not a magazine, airport, or even a car show that you could not see a Classic Motor Carriages car.

As the name implies, the company focused on cars of yesterday. The Gazelle (1929 Mercedes Replica) The Tiffany, The Speedster were a few of the companies popular models.

It was said that in its prime CMC was doing $15,000,000- $20,000,000 US in revenue and selling hundreds of kits a month. But that all abruptly came to an end in 1994 when the Florida Attorney General filed suit on behalf of hundreds of defrauded customers.

The suit stated that Classic Motor Carriages defrauded customers by “knowingly and willfully” making “false and misleading promises, statements, representations” when it came to the quality of the kit  purchased, as well as the delivery time, and assembly time. They were also taking customer deposits by making false and fraudulent statements, and were not delivering complete kits.

In 1995 the company was evicted from its headquarters and over  $1,000,000 in inventory was to be auctioned off. This was the end of Classic Motor Carriages as it was know.

Finally in 1999 Classic Motor Carriages plead guilty and was ordered to pay over $2,000,000 in restitution . Another company called Auto Resolutions was set up and eventually changed to Street Beasts.

Last edited by LeadPedal
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In 1980 I built a CMC speedster. The complete kit cost $6,000 delivered and included everything except the wiring harness.The bodies were not painted but had a color gell coat finish that was as good as lacquer and much more durable. I had the doors installed at the factory. The assembly was easy...but you couldn't complete the car in 40 hours as was advertised. It took a year and every tool I had.

356's were just old cars then and lots of original parts were available for very little $$. My car used original 356 instruments, steering column, steering wheel, horn button, wheels. Did not use the interior or top that came with the kit  but had a custom made Hartz canvas top and leather interior. Chromed the top bows, shifter and emergency brake handle.

These were really good, high quality kits but as with any kit, the quality of the finished car was the responsibility of the builder.  By the time it was finished I had $10k in the car. That was a lot at the time. In 1977 I had purchased a new Firebird, loaded for $7,700.

....  Funny how there are Porsche references in the video with Porsche not going after CMC , but for while Porsche would go into a frenzy individuals would post a eBay ad with the replica Porsche description ....... CMC's Levine decided he hadn't fleeced the public's pockets enough and created Street Beasts..... even hiring many of the same Cronies from CMC ( 2nd verse the same as the first )  ..Poor quality, the return of " sales tactics",  many components did fit and more.....  SB too went under.   Many years ago I had Levin's son phone and suggest I would be sued because I had written a piece that disclosed a lot of what I had discovered from buying many of the CMC 's project from fleeced CMC customers.  Did phase me as I returned the volley suggesting that it's a fact, people disappear on a daily bases ...........

Last edited by Alan Merklin

I own a CMC speedster "C" that an aquaintance of mine ordered and built in the mid eighties. He had the kit shipped to Canada and I still have all of the original paperwork and contact names that he would call when he had any questions. When I helped him installing the windshield we couldn't see the dimples in the gelcoat to locate windshield pillars and CMC mailed him up templates, as well I remember him getting two right windsheild pillars and they promptly sent a left one. All in all it was a pretty painless process for my friend...but obviously things ran off the rails in later years at CMC.

My experience with CMC was 1993 - 1995 and by that time they were pretty disorganized.  It seemed very much like the people that were phone-based "Customer Support" were there mainly to take phone calls and stall responses until the customer got fed up and turned away.  If you were lucky, you got the name of someone away from the offices and out on the production floor and THOSE people could be really helpful and make things happen fast.  Finding them was really hard.

Like Alan, I'm surprised that Porsche didn't go after them for copyright infringement or something, but I never heard of anything.  It is a tale of a company that took off like a rocket and could have been much more successful (read that - Not go Bankrupt and get their ass sued) if they had treated their later customers right and delivered on what they promised.  It became very obvious at their end that their management structure was totally inadequate.  Much of that poor management ended up at Street Beasts.

Nov 1988 Metro DC domicile when I ordered my CMC Classic.  $7995 plus shipping.  Opted for "my" shipper to pick it and asked them to notify me when crated and ready for pick up.  Shipping FL to No VA quoted at $1400 but thru my brother's company was only $450 (his company absorbed shipping cost - perk of NJ business practice!)  So waited a few days and called - was told it was already enroute with COD shipping.

Fortunately, CMC chose Pilot Trucking to ship --- and so did my brother for his shipping needs.  So when trucker arrived he talked to Pilot and they took his shipping invoice # instead of CMCs.  That was my first bad CMC taste and I hadn't even opened boxes to find many parts backordered.  This was before internet (even dial up modems!) and free cell phone long distant calls!  I probably still have the VHS promo tape.

It was a telemarketing "Boiler Room" that promised a lot and then delivered significantly less.  Their fiberglass work was "OK" but not great (if anything, it leaned toward thicker and slightly heavier glass lay-ups), their kit components were "OK" but seldom fit together without some modifying and on and on.  And it wasn't just their Speedster line - All their other kits had the same troubles AND the same high pressure telemarketing people selling them.

In fact, the thing they were best at was convincing you to spend more money.

Some people took it all in stride and built up some truly well-built cars.  I'm thinking Alan Merklin, here, who learned early on how to take a CMC Sow's ear and turn it into a Silk Purse.  I gave Henry Reisner a ride from a restaurant to our hotel at Carlisle and he commented that he was surprised that a CMC (mine) turned out so well.  I took that as a great compliment, coming from a Master builder.

Then, others used their own judgement and less mechanical abilities to build something that was "OK", but not great, but it was good enough for them and they were proud of it (and still are).  It's an unfortunate story, but I'm having just as much fun with my CMC as other people with their business-made cars, and THAT is what this is all about.

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