Rick McLaughlin / McLaughlin Trans Am Museum / McLaughlin Motor Cars Update
Yes we all thought it was over but not yet. There are still a few details that have come to light and we need some assistance in putting Rick and his band of merry accomplices behind bars.
Updates to the story. Rick was charged and found guilty of wire fraud in January. His sentencing will be in the last week of April. Charges carry up to 20 years. Part of the agreement was that Rick would try to make restitution until he reports to jail through liquidation of assets and any “legal” work
Well as it turns out good old Rick has not been living up to the agreement. Rick was just ordered by the Federal court to turn over a beautiful chocolate brown Trans Am that he had stolen 3 years ago! It is now safely back in the hands of Mike Fresca in Georgia!
Today there are still 4 high end older Trans Ams in the chop shop that have not found their owners. Please if you know anyone who has been taken advantage of by Rick McLaughlin, even if years ago contact Detective James Hart at 304- 580-1078 and/or Michele Wentz, West Virginia prosecutor at 304-347-3319. Also, if you have ever been told that your case is a civil case, contact them as well.
In other news, Rick has changed his business model and now goes by McLaughlin Museum where he is specializing in older trucks. Yes that is right older trucks please see the info below. I ask everyone to share this with any classic truck site or friends.
Finally … Rick has been selling “authentic” Burt Reynolds autographs! However, these have been only signed by Rick’s partner in crime, his ex-wife! If you have any of these let me know the Burt Reynolds foundation would like to know.
Recap for those joining the conversation late: 1 year ago, I purchased a 1989 Trans Am Turbo from Rick McLaughlin, after a lengthy battle my car arrived minus ownership papers and keys. I waited and begged Rick McLaughlin for the items and finally an envelop arrived with a forged MSO and other documents… During that time the West Virginia police and owner had contacted me, informing me Rick McLaughlin had stolen the car and my 50K dollars! Since then thanks to the online community we have located many other victims of Ricks scams including suspected insurance fraud, title fraud and grand theft auto and a host of other federal crimes.
3 other people have been able to retrieve their cars from his chop shop in West Virginia. Jeff, Dennis and Jay are now reunited with their cars and one long term lawsuit was finally settled retuning a restored truck to Mark in Canada!
The federal case against Rick McLaughlin is coming to a close and with a plea bargain and or jail time likely. Hopefully all of the victims (including myself) will eventually be paid or Mr. McLaughlin will have a new address, some new friends and time to reflect on his crimes. We are still searching for some Trans Ams that Rick has sold illegally which are listed below.
If you know anyone who has been taken advantage of or owed money by Rick McLaughlin, please reach out and I will put you in touch with the authorities.
As always thanks and message me if you have any info. Without Facebook, Rick would be still on the street taking advantage of people!
Ben Kenion Editor’s Note: Ben Kenion can be contacted on our Facebook group (www.facebook.com/groups/firebirdclub) by searching for his posts.
A National Firebird and Trans Am Club featured car is the ‘86 Trans Am of Mark Goldman from Endicott, New York. Here is the story:
In 1995 I purchased my 1986 Trans Am. It was the pace car at one of our local tracks. It was dark blue metallic with silver ground effects and was decked out in NASCAR vinyl stickers. I started the transformation by removing the stock hood, removing the stock 305 and having a complete engine out paint job performed. She was painted ice blue with pearl dust in the clear and ghost flames were added on both sides. The flames became her theme. The 305 was replaced by a built Corvette 350 Engine that was dynoed at 440 HP and a 600HP 700R4 transmission purchased from Monster Transmission in Florida was installed and a custom dual muffler system with Mazda dual exhaust tips. Then a fiberglass ram air hood was painted and installed. A BCool radiator and flamed radiator cap, flamed valve covers and breathers were added, a lowering kit was installed and air shocks were added to the rear. American Eagle (flamed) wheels and P245/50ZR16 Sumitomo tires replaced the stock Trans Am wheels and existing tires. Every flame on was painted with the same color paint as on the car, as well as the brake calipers.
The interior is stock except for firebird’s embroidered on the headrests, Panasonic stereo and BM Ratchet Shifter. A dual custom sub box, painted with the same paint as the car, dual MTX speakers and a Kicker Amp was installed in the rear well.
In 2010 a very good friend of mine helped me tuck all the engine wires into the sub frame and I added a March Performance Serpentine Chromed Front End, Taylor Wires, Flamed Spark Plug Wire Looms, and Lokar Transmission and Oil Dip Sticks.
Finally, in 2016 I had a local artist paint an eagle on the underside of my ram air hood.
In its present state it is true value insured for $50,000 through Collectors Insurance.
It has won several honors, but none as important as the 1st place it took in 2010 and 2012 out of all the 3rd Gen’s entered at the “Firebird’s On The Lawn” in Saratoga Springs, NY. Unfortunately they stopped having this car show.
Mark Goldman, In the Spirit of the Sport, USA Veterans Championship Wrestling Team Leader
Photos of club members’ cars.
|2002 WS6 of Paul Perry from Springville, Alabama|
|’70 1/2 Trans Am of Peter Winther Munch from Copenhagen Denmark|
|‘67 Firebird of Marshall Jordan from Toccoa, Georgia|
|‘83 Trans Am of Kenneth Tucker from Irene, South Dakota|
My love affair with Firebirds began in January 1968, when my wife, Donna (deceased 2018) and I purchased a new ’68 from Quebedeaux Pontiac in Tucson Arizona. The car was turquoise with a 350 2 barrel and a 3 speed manual. The only options were a push button AM radio and power steering. I loved the styling, but did not get to drive it much as two months later I was off to Vietnam. I learned an important life lesson in all this – do not leave a pregnant wife in the Tucson summer driving a non AC car. I returned stateside in March 1969, and was promptly informed by Donna that the portable playpen for our son would not fit in the Firebird’s trunk. We went back to the dealer, and after insuring the playpen fit in the trunk we traded the Firebird in on a ’69 GTO with air.
Our next contact with a Firebird was not until 1994 and after several other Pontiac models, when we acquired a new white Formula with an LT1 and automatic. We shared it as a family vehicle and used it as a daily driver. In 1998 we bought a new bright red Formula with Tremec 6 speed (photo of Donna modeling it new). It served several years as a daily driver and quickly ran up twenty-five grand on the odometer. Donna then informed me that she was tired of shifting, so I got her an automatic Grand Am. Since then I have been applying numerous modifications to the car (see attached list of mods and photos). The car will eventually go to our youngest son, who resides in the Seattle area and only has a single parking spot at his house. I keep the Formula garaged here in Arizona and use it only as a weekend vehicle and car shows. The car now has over fifty thousand miles and runs great with the original spark plugs and regular fluid changes.
1998 Pontiac Firebird Formula
LS1 5.7 litre/M6 Transmission/Bright Red
Front – SSBC Force 10 Aluminum 4 Piston (43mm) Calipers/Powder Coated Red
Front – SSBC 13″ Slotted & Plated Rotors/Braded Stainless Steel Lines/High Performance Pads
Rear – SSBC Slotted & Plated Rotors/High Performance Pads
Rear – Red Painted Calipers
Hypertech Power Programmer III
Hypertech 160 degree Thermostat
CORSA Cat Back Exhaust w/Pro Series 3.5 Tips
SLP 85mm MAF Sensor
SLP Smooth Intake Bellows
SLP High Performance Air Box Lid
APM Automotive WS6 Style Ram Air Hood
GM Lower Ram Air Box
EGR Tube Modification
Throttle Body Coolant Bypass Modification
K & N Air Filter
In April of 2016 we found out we were the winners of the 2015 Bandit Dream Giveaway Sweepstakes. Ironically, one of the previous owners who had restored the car was actually from Chicago not far from where my wife who is a native of Norridge, IL was born and raised. Since receiving the car, we have joined the National and Southern California chapter of POCI and Karen is now serving as Chapter secretary and we regularly attend car shows. A side note is the impact the original Smokey and the Bandit movie had on me as well as the car as a kid who saw the movie in the theater when it first came out at the impressionable age of 16! Not to mention the texts I get from family and friends to give me a hard time every time that movie is on. Editor’s Note: The Bandit Dream Giveaway Sweepstakes has been promoted by the Club.
‘79 Trans Am SE Bandit of Michael and Karen Bianchino from Anaheim Hills, California (winner of Bandit Dream Giveaway Sweepstakes)
This issue’s featured car is the ‘80 turbo Trans Am Indy 500 pace car of Al and Patricia Dompieri of Forked River, New Jersey. Here is the story:
Here are some pictures of my 1980 Turbo Trans Am Indy 500 Pace Car. It is owned by Al & Patricia Dompieri of Forked River, NJ. We acquired the car from the son of the original owner who had recently passed away last year. It has 64,000 original miles on it and was purchased from AW Golden in Reading PA. We’ve spent the last few years restoring the car, from the interior, suspension, mechanicals, and paint. The car is now complete and ready to enjoy with our family! My wife and I run a website that promotes local car shows and the classic car hobby, www.jerseyshorecarshows.com and we enjoy getting out to the local shows with the car. Everyone who sees it loves the car and it always brings back great memories.
|‘87 Trans Am GTA of Derek Harrell from Seymour, Indiana|
|‘99 Firebird of Louis Failla of Massapequa Park, New York|
I have been a huge Firebird fan since I was little kid. I always thought the look of a ’68 or ’69 Firebird was nicer than the Camaro. I bought this car in Bend Oregon. I put a 5.7 liter 440 hp engine that I bought from a guy who makes engines in Tacoma Washington. I have redone the suspension, replaced the shocks and the disc brakes and of course rebuilt the engine.
Thomas Maffei, Redwood City, CA
A National Firebird and Trans Am Club featured car is the ‘68 Firebird 400 convertible of Jim McCarty of Palm Springs, California. Here is his story:
I am a happy owner of a ‘68 Firebird 400 convertible, and I thought I would share some pictures of my car. These pictures are a little different from the normal ones you see. No green lawns, and well kept houses.
I have owned the car for about 25 years, and it’s our daily ride when we live here in Palm Springs California in the winter season.
The somewhat unique thing about my car, is that it has an agent, and does a fair amount of advertising, commercial work, and photo shoots in and around the Southern California deserts and ghost towns. I have worked with clients ranging from high brow ad agencies with household brands, to adult film producers. It’s always different, fun and oh, interesting….
Here are some pictures recently taken at a photo shoot for an Australian fashion brand at a deserted gas station at Salton Sea, CA-about 140 miles east of Los Angeles.
Hope you enjoy them!
Palm Springs, CA