New Bentley owner says: "My car smells obnoxiously.......take it back, sues... and...
For the rest of the story, follow linkBy PETER BUFFA
Does yours smell? Mine doesn't. But Gus Doppes' does. Really bad. His car, that is.
Newport Beach resident Gus Doppes isn't just anyone when it comes to how things smell, and his car isn't just any car. Doppes is, or was, the proud owner of a new Bentley Arnage, which puts out about 400 horsepower and put Gus out about $215,000, both of which are a lot. Two hundred fifteen thousand dollars is twice as much as my car costs. OK, it's twice as much as twice as much as my car costs.
I would think that when you spend two hundred grand and change for a car, you expect certain things. You expect it to run; you expect the radio to work; you expect the doors to close. On the other hand, in the things-you-don't-expect column, is having your new $215,000 set of wheels smell like what Doppes describes as "a strong, chemical smell, like burning oil."
The aroma of burled walnut or rich Corinthian leather or even your basic new-car smell — any of those will do, although the last one is a little disappointing at that price. But a strong, chemical smell like burning oil is no bueno in an AMC Pacer, let alone a Bentley.
And yet, one fine day in April of 2002, as he drove his beautiful new Bentley home from Newport Auto Center on East Coast Highway, that was exactly where Gus Doppes found himself — in a really, really expensive car, that smelled really, really bad. Little did he know that the short drive home would be just the start of a very long, very costly, quite maddening, and at times surreal odyssey into a parallel automotive universe — where up is down, black is white and whatever you think you saw, or smelled, you didn't.
Doppes reached a major milestone in his four-year quest for fresh air about 10 days ago, when an Orange County Superior Court jury awarded him $214,300 for the smelly Bentley plus $100,000 for damages. Who gets to pay whose legal fees, which are robust, and whether the verdict will be appealed remains to be seen.
Does smell really matter? It does to Gus Doppes. A lot.
You see, it just happens to be how he makes his living. Doppes owns California Scents, a successful Irvine company that makes — ready? — air fresheners for cars. No, Virginia, you cannot make this stuff up. I spoke to Gus Doppes telephonically on Friday afternoon, and the story is even curiouser than I first thought...