DENVER – A Denver man says he has spent $4,200 trying to get his '63 Ford Falcon running, and that he feels like he's been taken for a ride.
Carlos Martinez said the old convertible was a graduation gift from his mom in 1981.
"She paid $4,000 for it," he said. "That was a lot of money for her."
The years have taken a toll on that car.
There are holes in the floorboards, the tires are flat and the engine won't start.
Martinez said he paid Denver Engine & Transmission $1,400 in July of 2018 to get the floorboards fixed, and another $1,500 in May of 2019 to get the engine repaired.
The shop manager, who didn't want to go on camera, told Denver7 they don't do body work there.
He said they put a new starter in the car, a new fuel pump and distributor, reset the carburetor and adjusted the clutch.
He said he charged Martinez $1,340 for the repair work, and that he had no record of any prior payments.
Martinez was furious.
He said the manager, who has been at the shop for just over a year, was there when he handed over $1,500 cash to another employee.
Martinez produced three receipts.
One of the receipts, for $1,400, was written on a NAPA Auto Parts form and was signed by a Doug Holenbeck, who wrote: "received as deposit on 1963 Falcon conv."
"That ain't my handwriting, that's Doug, that's his handwriting," Martinez said. "That's their boy."
Doug is no longer employed at the shop.
The other receipt, for $1,500, was written on an actual Denver Engine and Transmission form.
When asked if he thought Martinez left money with other people who worked there, the manager replied, "I couldn't answer that honestly. I got rid of everybody when I got here, because it was bad here..."
The manager said Denver Engine & Transmission, formerly owned by KCR Automotive LLC, is now owned by D&D Autocare.
Records at the Secretary of State's office show that D&D took over in December of 2017.
Martinez said that was before he had his Falcon towed to the shop.
The convertible owner became emotional when talking about his wasted efforts to get the car repaired.
"I feel like I'm being held hostage," he said.
Martinez said Doug told him in 2018 he would take out the old seats and repair the floorboards with sheet metal.
That work was never done.
When the car wouldn't start at the shop, even with a shot of starting fluid, Martinez paid a towing company to take the car back to his house.
The shop manager said the car wouldn't start because it didn't have gas in it.
Martinez counters that his first two payments were to make sure the engine runs, and to repair the floorboards.
The manager said Martinez is trying to put lipstick on a pig.
Martinez said he was incensed and hurt when the manager laughed at him as his car was being put onto the tow truck.
"He called it a Barney Rubble Flintstone mobile," he said, "after I paid them nearly $5,000."
Martinez is now taking the company to small claims court.
"Regardless of whether I win or not, I'm just glad I got my convertible home," he said.
He hopes to find someone else willing to fix it.
"It's probably not worth a lot, but to me, it's worth my heart," he said. "You know, my mama bought it for me. She's been dead since 1986."