Torch, I know my comments will be buried in the hundreds of other comments but I feel compelled to respond anyhow.
I’ve seen literally hundreds of tuners, restoration outfits, parts suppliers and other automotive companies through the years which have turned out to be either incompetent, blatant frauds, or just plain scam artists. Sometimes they are a combination of all three. Usually they’re spotted and vetted out pretty quickly, either by burned enthusiasts or disgruntled customers, or, occasionally, by the automotive press calling them out for their bullshit.
What I just can’t seem to wrap my head around is this:
Despite nearly twenty years of continuous customer horror stories in print, online and in courthouses around the state of Texas which include verified accounts of sub-standard or non-existent work, failure to meet contract terms, missing parts, vehicles being stripped and parted out without customer approval, falsified performance documentation, unauthorized parts substitutions, using “escrow” money on one vehicle to pay for the work on another, etc., I can find no record anywhere in the automotive press of someone actually holding JH’s feet to the fire to really account for his actions. There is, quite literally, a twenty year track record of pretty damn-well documented complaints following JH and HPE, and yet virtually every mass-media article usually has him quoted as saying something like, “Those troubles were all behind us in 2000-2003. It’s all good now,” and that’s the end of it.
I blame this on the continued media ass-kissing that JH has received for the past twenty-odd years, of which Jalopnik, and many others, have provided. For whatever reason, damned near every ‘automotive journalist’ that has written the word Hennessey seems to have bent over, gotten on their knees, and started making sucking sounds with puckered lips. It can’t be for the advertising that HPE buys, because from what can be seen, it’s not like they have any money to buy a classified ad in a ‘Steals and Deals’ much less in “Car and Driver.”
Torch, do you remember the amazing gadget that was going to revolutionize gas mileage management called the Fuel Shark? How is it that JH and HPE have been able to escape the same scrutiny? The only differences between them are the SCOPE and SCALE and LENGTH OF TIME the bullshit has gone unreported. Seriously. Think about it: You’d have to sell a metric shit-ton of Fuel Sharks to even get to the level of a “missing” HPE deposit. Multiply that time 20 years, times all the other shit that has gone on at HPE and you’ll begin to see the bigger picture I’m painting here.
Here’s something else to consider: If a “no-name” startup tuning company tried to lie their way out of giving a customer a $75,000 refund as you have documented, especially if, as HPE claims, the money hasn’t even been spent yet, do you honestly think Jalopnik (or any other automotive journalism channel for that matter) would let them escape microscopic levels of scrutiny for everything they had ever done? Because that is what has happened with HPE and JH...not just now, but dozens upon dozens of times in the past. Any other smaller or lessor known company would be absolutely crushed and decimated by the shitstorm of folks pouncing on it for blood.
There has been ‘smoke’ lingering around JH and HPE for twenty years, and now, the ‘fire’ has been spotted.
It’s time someone in the automotive journalism world grew a pair and started doing some real digging and fact checking. Stop worrying about free track days, test loaners, and pit passes for one damn minute and do something bigger than themselves.
Trust me, if ONE SINGLE WRITER would have called out JH and HPE twenty years ago for their bullshit, that writer would now be driving a fleet of very red cars (that catch on fire) and reading this from their Tuscan summer villa.