A Few Instances Of John Hennessy's Shady Business Practices #blogpost
If you are a regular Car Throttle user, then you likely heard of a man named John Hennessy. This man is primarily known for taking cars and turning their horsepower levels up to 11. Which is awesome. Car people love tuning their rides; it enables them to get the best out of their vehicle and have something unique about their ride.
One thing car enthusiasts don’t like is getting ripped off. Actually, to tell the truth, most people, regardless of whether they like cars or not, are not a fan of having their money/property stolen.
And this is what John Hennessy specializes in.
In this blog post, I will detail a few major instances of Hennessy’s shady business:
Go on Google and search up John Hennessey Viper. More than likely, the first search result you will get is about how this man screwed over Viper owners rather than his own website’s Viper section,
Now I could go on a rant about how he delayed car builds and swapped parts without consent, but I’ll hand the mic over to Mark Vaughn:
“According to a lawsuit filed in Salt Lake City, Utah resident Taig Stewart sent his Viper GTS to Hennessey last May for an engine upgrade to 1100 hp along with several other modifications. For that he wire-transferred $142,500 to Hennessey. The lawsuit states the parties agreed the car would be done by mid-July 2001. As of press time the car was still sitting under a tarp in Hennessey’s shop in Houston. Or most of the car, anyway. Stewart’s suit claims Hennessey sold the car’s engine, transmission, wheels, tires and hood. The suit seeks return of the money, the Viper and “no less than $1 million” in punitive damages.
Hennessey claims he’s just slow in getting the work done.
“My side of the story is we’re planning on finishing his car and planning on giving him everything that he paid for,” said Hennessey. As for the parts being sold, “That’s totally false. We’ve got all his parts in the shop except the hood and he wanted to do a lightweight hood.”
Stewart is not the first unsatisfied customer. The longer we dug the more dissatisfaction we found. Here’s a sampling:
On Nov. 14 a New Jersey court entered a final judgement of $133,674 against Hennessey on behalf of Viper owner Gary Dan for a botched conversion.
William Walters said he is out over $22,000 after shipping his Corvette to Hennessey for a head and cam package that was never done; he did have five rods bent and a head gasket damaged on the dyno in Hennessey’s shop during an experiment Hennessey tried with nitrous oxide. “
Continuing on Vaughn,
“Jerry Johnson said he had to file suit in Placer County Court in California to straighten out registration and engine computer problems on a Viper he bought from Hennessey. Jon Belinkie said he loves the changes made to his Viper but had to sue in his home state of Maryland, then register the judgement in Texas, to recover overcharges Hennessey made on his American Express card.
Rick Ryan said he had to hound Hennessey for eight months by long distance from Marietta, Georgia, to put the proper wing and stripes on his Viper.
Mark Lublin said he sent his Viper cylinder heads to Hennessey for new valves but when the heads came back he found the “new” valves were actually used; a cam that was delivered to Lublin in a Hennessey box turned out to be a stock Chrysler cam. Lublin was finally refunded $5,715 from American Express but only after nine months of disputing the charge; and he got no money from Hennessey.
Bruce Iannatuono said he ordered $8,500 worth of Hennessey parts for his mechanic in Baltimore to install but was only able to use two-thirds of what was shipped, and then only after haranguing Hennessey for six months on an order that was originally promised in five weeks. “
So yeah, not only does crook mess with customer cars, take forever on orders, swap parts between customer cars, and not even put in new parts in some cases, but this slimy fraud even has the balls to overcharge his customers for his cringe-worthy “work”.
He’s also changed address multiple times:
Hennessey Motorsports @ 18000 Groschke Rd, Houston, TX 77084
Hennessey Performance @ 29334 McKinnon, Fulshear, TX 77441
Hennessey Performance Engineering @ 9281 Interstate 10 Frontage Rd, Sealy, TX 77474
Surely because its from all the revenue? Nope, its because he needs to change locations quick to avoid being pinned by lawsuits.
A while back, Hennessey started a thing called Tuner School in which he supposedly taught people how to tune cars, as the name would say.
Here’s what a reddit user had to say:
“Now, first off, I’m not the only one in my class that feels this way, about 90% of the class does. I am attending Hennessey’s Tuner School in sealy right now and I’m over half way through it. I recently got out of the military and was looking for an industry to get into, after some searching I found Tuner School and childhood memories of DuPont Registry ads and Hennessey Vipers started filling my head. I mean holy sh\t Hennessey is offering a school and they take the GI Bill! Well my love for fast cars took over me and I went into the situation blind (like an idiot).
This school cost round abouts of $15,000 or 8 months of your GI Bill even though it is a four month school. The school is small, it is probably 1/8th of the entire shop, yes it is connected to the shop. It has three lifts for the school, but due to this semester’s class capacity we are using another lift in the shop. The cars we are working on are pieces of sh!t. They have been taken apart and put back together so much that they constantly break, and when a part breaks the school doesn’t have replacements, they have to order the part and that usually takes about 3-5 days here, so the days we don’t have the needed part we sit around with our thumbs in our @ss. Right now there is one instructor for 22 guys, that doesn’t add up when we go into the shop and start working on cars, especially when we have to have the instructors say so before we do anything, or if we need a certain tool or part. The track days are a joke, the only one we have had all but one car sh!t the bed. We won’t be learning tuning, even though there is two weeks for that in the curriculum, BUT they will be holding a TUNING CLASS after the semester for a couple grand per person. What they teach is basically general stuff any gearhead knows excluding a couple things like camshaft design/valve events and turbo mapping. The instructor at the school is an awesome cool guy, he really is, but he is overloaded.
I know bullsh/t when I see it and after I noticed it I kept trying to tell myself the school would get better but it isn’t and won’t. The school is worth maybe $4,000 and that might be stretching it. I got ripped off and wasted some of my GI Bill, I don’t want it to happen to anyone else especially if they are spending their cash. This school made me lose interest in the tuning industry. Any questions please ask because I’m upset about it and I don’t want anyone else feeling like I do.”
*disclaimer: I edited this quote to censor out certain profanity.
Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a scam. Basically, Hennessey is having a class teach you the bare basics of car engines. Stuff you could find on Google. It does not seem Hennessey gives any useful like hands on tuning experience or professional advice/guidance. All it really looks to be is a bunch information that might look cool if you know nothing about cars prior. He took an intro to cars class and jacked up the price.
Engineering Explained could probably teach you more ( I don’t mean that offensively).
Ok, so I was going to write a paragraph or 2 on how this guys acts immaturely and rudely on forums, naming calling people and denying blatant theft. But that would make this blog post too long for my liking so I’ll leave you with this link to a Chrysler forum
There’s a whole article on Jalopnik on that story, but what I want to focus on is what his ex-employees have to say. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, even the people who worked for him think is he is a con-man.
Here’s what they had to say:
Money from foreign clients was used to fund other projects and/or builds, or sometimes was used by Hennessey personally, according to a subset of employees, as some of the more rank-and-file employees said they really had no idea where money went. Sources differed on the opinion as to whether taking deposits from overseas clients and not delivering cars were actual, intentional acts, or just the result of mismanagement.
Clients’ cars would sit in the shop for months or longer with little or no work being done on them. The time the cars would be sitting would usually be measured in months, and occasionally a year or more. When the clients would eventually call and complain, they’d be put off or ignored until they threatened to demand refunds.
At that point, the practice was that the car’s drivetrain would be removed, so HPE could send pictures to the clients to both ‘prove’ that work was being done, and so that the cars would be much more difficult for the client to take back.
The only cars that were routinely actually completed were cars that were owned by VIPs, personal friends of Hennessey, or local clients who could actually come in person to the shop and check on how their cars were progressing. According to a subset of ex-employees that knew more about the financial side of the company, the costs for the builds for these cars were paid for by other clients’ deposits.
Even when cars were actually built, the quality was not as advertised. An ex-employee who actually did the work on the cars told me that off-the shelf parts were often used, “with the Hennessey name slapped on them.” Cars are not individually dyno tested to confirm their power; copies of dyno sheets are used, and some employees suggested that dyno sheets were faked.
One employee told me that “John puts his name on stuff that’s not special,” meaning parts, and told me that “many upgrades used lesser stuff, but people paid top dollar, because these rich people would never know we put sh\t on their cars.”
Another technician told me that he “just did the work and got a check,” and that “everything [he] did was legit,” but then went on to say “as far as the customer being a rich dumb@ss and not knowing…”
So the next time you hear about some crazy high horsepower machine leaving a certain shop in Texas, just know that it might not be all that.