He allowed that he hadn’t seen any documents related to the car’s extensive backstory, but he believed it was true (“He would have to have the most vivid imagination ever to make all this up”) and offered to connect us to the owner himself, a “real nice guy” named Bruno in his mid-sixties. Collins added that Bruno seemed “very emotional” and had tears in his eyes when he dropped the car off for what could be the last time should it sell. When asked if anyone from Nissan had reached out, he mentioned that a former employee and self-professed 240SX fanatic had emailed him, asking for the VIN so he could run down some more details on what appeared to be a very special car.
It was prescient moment, as it turns out. Less than 10 minutes after hanging up, Collins called us back to say he had just received an alarming set of text messages from the former Nissan employee. The story was likely bogus, the man wrote, as a base-model 240SX would never be used as a show car. The detail about the mahogany crate just made no sense. The VIN didn’t line up with the tale, and he questioned why the car has what appears to be a Jaguar badge on the rear instead of the Nissan logo.
And when you stop to think about it, there are a number of apparent gaps in the story. A judge really said “Five of you to fight one honest customer?” to Nissan’s lawyers and ordered the company to turn over a valuable display car? The dealership really tried to pass off a muddy-bottomed, flood-damaged 240SX as brand new after the negative publicity of the first case? The whole saga really forced a top executive to resign?
“It’s a very strange situation,” Collins admitted.
Further muddying the waters is the owner’s reaction to all the attention, something you kind of have to expect when selling a six-figure time capsule with a Hollywood-caliber past. After speaking with us the first time but before getting those fateful texts, Collins called him up to let him know The Drive was interested in speaking with him about his story. He was, in Collins’s words, “reluctant.”
“He goes, ‘I don’t want to talk about it. I’m having a hard enough time dealing with getting rid of the thing, you know? I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about all the legal shit, I don’t want names thrown around.’ It was stuff like that,” Collins said.
He said he understood, remembering how the guy “had a hard time leaving the building” when he first dropped it off, but the texts from the former Nissan employee added a new layer to Bruno’s reticence. When we spoke again on Friday, Collins told us the owner had basically settled on not talking to anyone about the car and passed along a message.
“He’s like, ‘Look, you wanna dig around and find the legal stuff for it? Be my guest. I’ll release whatever information you can dig up, but I’m not gonna start unearthing files from the past. And I’m definitely not going to talk about it,'” Collins said. “If the story is not true, this guy has the most vivid imagination ever. If the story is true, it adds a little coolness to the value of the car, but I don’t think it changes the fact that it’s still a 600-mile 240SX.”
Collins talks like he’s suspicious of the story, but wants like hell for it to be true, and for the “nice guy” he’s been dealing with to not turn out to be a liar. And the ads—both on Craigslist and Hemmings—remain live, because as he put it, “none of this changes the fact that it’s still a 600-mile 240SX.” He’s also not sure that the former Nissan guy is as connected as he says he is, having never met him in real life.
There is one more avenue that might yield some information, of course: Nissan itself. But alas, after repeated requests, the company emailed The Drive a short statement declining to comment.
So at the end, we’re simply left with more questions than answers—the biggest one being, is a 676-mile 1997 Nissan 240SX worth $100,000? Depends on if you want to believe.
This article was not written by Michigan Lemon Law.
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