Plaintiff, a school teacher, purchased a new Ford car, a 1975 model, from defendant dealer, Larson Ford, on October 5, 1975. He brought this action for rescission on March 7, 1977. He has retained possession of the car.
Over the 17-month interval between the purchase of the car and the filing of the complaint the car was repainted three times by Larson Ford without cost to plaintiff. Each time Larson Ford loaned plaintiff a comparable replacement. Plaintiff asserts, and this court so finds, that a motor vehicle is a necessity for him for transportation to work and for
other uses. See South Burl. Cty. N.A.A.C.P. v. Mt. Laurel Tp. , 67 N.J. 151, 172-173 (1975) (noting society's increasing dependence on motor vehicle transportation); Streeter v. Brogan , 113 N.J. Super. 486, 492 (Ch. Div. 1971) (characterizing a motor vehicle as a necessity for a large segment of the population).
At the time of delivery of the car to plaintiff some paint was chipped in front. It was dark. Plaintiff did not observe the defect until the next day, when he demanded his money back or a new car from Larson Ford. Larson Ford refused in accordance with the firm policy of defendant manufacturer, Ford Motor Company, to insist upon the customer's acquiescence in repair of any defect, rather than reimbursement of the purchase price or tender to him of a substitute new car. Plaintiff so acquiesced.
The body shop manager of Larson Ford noted a slight differential in color between the front and rear of plaintiff's new car. He concluded that the car had a replacement front end, including hood and fenders, as shipped by Ford Motor Company. Under his direction the front end was stripped down to the metal with the use of a solvent and repainted.
Further chipping and peeling occurred after several weeks. Again plaintiff demanded a rescission and again was advised the car would be repainted. This time Larson Ford stripped down and repainted the entire car.
By July 1976 serious paint defects had redeveloped. Adhesion of the paint was so poor that it peeled manually. Plaintiff for the third time asked Larson Ford for return of his money, offering an adjustment because of his nine months' use of the car, or, alternatively, a new car. Larson Ford refused. The entire car was sandblasted down to the metal, repainted and returned to plaintiff.
A substantially successful adhesion of paint was accomplished. Nevertheless spot painting and repairs to the upholstery and other parts of the car damaged by the sandblasting are still required. For several months prior to the institution of this action plaintiff negotiated with Larson
Ford, first by himself and then through an attorney, for a settlement or adjustment, such as a credit towards purchase of a new car. He was offered such a credit but rejected it as inadequate. He has continued to drive his car but its appearance and value have been marred for him because of the recurrent paint defects. He remains dissatisfied and frustrated, as he has been since the day after delivery. As commented in Zabriskie Chevrolet, Inc. v. Smith , 99 N.J. Super. 441 (Law Div. 1968):
For a majority of people the purchase of a new car is a major investment, rationalized by the peace of mind that flows from its dependability and safety. Once their faith is shaken, the vehicle loses not only its real value in their eyes, but becomes an ...