Four years ago, Ray Hiersche handed the keys of his 1985 Pontiac Trans Am to Fred Goebel for a paint job.
Hiersche later agreed to major modifications to the car and wrote Goebel checks for a special engine and other upgrades. But Goebel wouldn’t let him see the car.
By the time police found it, Hiersche’s Trans Am was little more than a shell sitting outside a storage unit.
“It was kind of like stripped,” Hiersche said. “I thought I was going to get half the car. I might have gotten almost half the car.”
The Lenexa resident now wants his $40,462 back, along with the parts he said Goebel stripped off the classic muscle car.
Hiersche is among five consumers whose complaints prompted Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe to sue Goebel and his business, Showroom Carstar LLC. The county’s case comes after two similar personal lawsuits against Goebel and social media complaints by others.
The county’s lawsuit said Goebel is believed to be living in Florida now.
Goebel, contacted by phone, spoke to The Star briefly. He said he was unaware of the county’s lawsuit and hung up when asked whether he was living in Florida.
According to the district attorney’s complaint, Goebel has left behind more than $111,000 in paid-for but unfinished work, as well as vehicles missing parts. The suit said one customer has yet to get his car back.
Much of the work was to be done at Goebel’s shop in Shawnee, but he later moved it to Eudora, Kan., according to the lawsuit.
Goebel’s Showroom Carstar operated as a franchise of the North American Carstar system. A spokewoman for Carstar said it terminated his franchise in 2014 but said the reasons were confidential.
Records show Goebel and his business had financial problems, including tax liens exceeding $17,000 in 2015 and 2016. Two years ago, Goebel failed to respond when a lender sued him over $30,313 he’d borrowed to buy painting equipment. The court gave the lender a default judgment.
Those problems, however, were far in the future when Goebel first agreed to work on most of the cars cited in the district attorney’s complaint.
Damian Martinez paid Goebel $7,950 and traded him a shotgun worth $450 to do some body work on his 1970 Chevy Chevelle, the suit said.
That was nearly nine years ago, and when Martinez finally got the car back in 2016, the paint didn’t match and “the previously assembled vehicle was in pieces,” the lawsuit said. It said more than 50 parts previously on the car were believed to have been lost, sold or destroyed by Goebel.
In his brief conversation with The Star, Goebel said he did not have parts from Martinez’s car. Goebel has not returned subsequent calls.
The restoration of Thomas Hayselden Jr.’s 1957 Ford Fairlane was supposed to take 18 months, the suit said. That was eight years ago.
Last year, Hayselden had gotten a notice from the owner of the building where Goebel operated his shop, according to the suit. The notice said Showroom Carstar was being cleared out for failing to pay rent.
Hayselden got his car back. Well, most of it anyway. The district attorney’s lawsuit seeks a refund of Hayselden’s $37,647 and the return of a list of missing pieces that includes the Fairlane’s trunk lid.
Gregory Swanson paid Goebel $30,000 and still hasn’t gotten his 1956 Chevy Wagon back, the suit said. It said Goebel has both after more than five years to do a “completed restoration” that Swanson understood would take 10 months.
Jay Lord swapped his 2006 Dodge Charger to Goebel for a 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible that the lawsuit said was supposed to be “restored and running by July of 2015.” Lord took the Cutlass from Goebel’s Eudora, Kan., shop in August 2017, and the work on it was incomplete and “numerous significant parts were missing,” the lawsuit said.
Their stories echo complaints of two other vintage car owners who sued Goebel over similar problems.
Joseph Addington filed suit against Goebel in 2013 over his 1955 Chevy Bel-Air. The lawsuit said Addington had gotten the car restored and paid Goebel $13,000 for painting work.
Addington ultimately found his Bel-Air at Goebel’s shop “in pieces, outside and covered by a shredded tarp,” the lawsuit said.
In 2011, a Johnson County couple sued Goebel claiming they’d hired him to restore their 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle convertible to “like new.” When they took back the car, the suit said, it was missing a laundry list of parts that ranged from motor mounts and left door mirror to the fuel tank and power window assemblies.
Each of the private lawsuits against Goebel were settled and dismissed in court.
The district attorney’s lawsuit seeks a court order that permanently restrains Goebel and Showroom Carstar from doing business in Johnson County, $70,000 in fines and an enhanced civil penalty of undetermined value for violations committed against “a protected person.”