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Italian sports-car maker Ferrari is suing an Oregon auto body shop, claiming the shop builds and sells imitations of the company’s famous cars without permission. In a lawsuit filed Nov. 16 in U.S. District Court, Ferrari alleges that the M & N Auto Body shop has made several fakes of its sleek F 355 GTS model, even using its trademark “prancing horse” design and logo. Ferrari is seeking unspecified damages and wants the body shop to top making any more of the replicas. Lawyers believe shop manager Vui Nguyen has already built three of the cars, but he denies it. “We’re a service shop. We do body work and paint. We’ll do paint work, but we don’t make the cars,” he said this week. Ferrari attorney Albert Robin said the company wants to send a message to other replica makers. “We can’t sue everybody, but the word is out. They all know if Ferrari finds out, Ferrari will take action against them,” Robin said. Building replica sports cars — often called ‘kit cars’ — is a subculture complete with trade shows, newsletters, Internet chat rooms and national competitions. There are hundreds of kit-car makers, ranging from small-time hobbyists to full-scale businesses. Ferrari kit cars usually are made by removing the body from a more mundane vehicle and replacing it with a fiberglass shell that fits onto the chassis, transforming the car into a Ferrari look-alike. Completed replicas sell for $30,000 or more, depending on quality, but Ferrari lawyers say Nguyen is selling his for $5,500 to $7,000, not including the cost of the used base car.
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