(CN) – A Ferrari fan claims in Montana federal court that a dealership bought his $3.6 million 1956 Ferrari 500 TR – one of just 17 such cars made that year – from a man who had a fraudulent title to it.
Ronald D. Rod, and RD Rod LLC as successor in interest to Grand Bank, sued Montana Classic Cars, in Missoula, Mont., Federal Court.
Rod, of Conroe, Texas, says he bought a 1956 Ferrari 500 TR for $3.6 million from a dealership in California.
The 1956 Ferrari 500 TR was the first model to use the Testa Rossa name. Testa Rossa (redhead in Italian) was derived from the color of the valve covers on a Ferrari 4-cylinder engine introduced in 1956 to help Ferrari compete with the latest 2-liter Maserati, which was dominating in its category at the time.
Only 17 500 TRs were made in 1956. The model is assigned great historical value; luxury car auctions estimate it is worth $2 million to $3 million.
Rod says he financed the car through Oklahoma-based Grand Bank and used a relative, Thomas Rhein, as a middleman for the purchase.
Rhein, who is not named as a defendant, transferred the car to a third party, which took only “nominal ownership” of the car, Rod says in the complaint.
Rod says the car has belonged to him since he bought it in 2007, and that Grand Bank had a lien on its title, which it transferred to RD Rod.
But Rod claims that in 2011, despite a court order that required Rhein to keep the car “for the sole benefit of” Grand Bank, Rhein sold the car to Montana Classic for $1,950,000, without Rod’s or the bank’s permission.
Rod claims that Rhein submitted a false application for the title, claiming there were no lien holders, and listed a nonexistent entity as the seller.
He says Montana Classic refuses to return the car.
Rod seeks a declaration that he owns the car, cancellation of the sale and damages for conversion.
He is represented by Natasha Prinzing Jones, with Boone Karlberg.