Bo's Hot Rods: Building and clients left in dark

Customers seek answers from shuttered car shop
Mar. 25, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

Last year, television producers considered Bo's Hot Rods and Restorations as a reality TV show site. The show never came about, but the luxury car shop recently has been providing drama of its own.

About a month ago, according to customers and a neighbor of the shop on Market Street in downtown Sanford, Bo's Hot Rods closed down with no warning. The Sanford Police Department has launched an investigation based on at least one complaint about the shop, and two customers have told The Herald they fear they'll never get their cars back.

Lee County resident William Abshear has been trying to restore his 1936 three-window Ford Coupe for more than 40 years. He said he has had issues with a half-dozen other hot rod shops in that time but thought he had finally found reliability in Bo's Hot Rods and its owner, James "Bo" Boyer.

Abshear, 80, now worries that he'll never see his antique car finished.

"This is not like him at all," Abshear said of Boyer, a Sanford man who co-founded the store in 2012 with a business associate from Pinehurst. "It's totally out of character. ... I left him a couple messages and said 'I'm not excited; I'm not upset. I'd just like an update.' But I never heard back."

Boyer's phone number, in fact, is disconnected, and there is no notice posted at the shop to bring customers up to date. The business's website also has been taken down, and its Facebook page hasn't been updated in nearly a year.

Found at his Lee County home last Thursday, Boyer would not answer questions and referred all inquiries to the office of Richard Sparkman, a bankruptcy attorney based in Harnett County.

Sparkman didn't respond to messages requesting comment last week or on Monday. Another employee at the firm confirmed that it is indeed representing Boyer, but she said only Sparkman could answer specific questions about the matter.

Also unable to be reached for comment were the shop's Pinehurst-based co-founder, George Fredericks, and Sanford man Jimmie Bullis, whom Boyer introduced as his business partner last year while discussing the tentative reality show.

At the time, the producers who were considering Boyer's shop for a TV show said one of the prime conflicts they would focus on was that Boyer is "all about creativity and artistic expression, whereas Bullis is focused on the bottom line," The Herald reported.

Another customer who said he's wondering about his car's whereabouts, Ernie Garner, said it's common to go through long stretches without hearing from a hot rod store owner, since work on such cars typically takes a while. But he's only OK with that when he knows work is actually being done, he said.

So after he heard the store was closed, and he couldn't get in touch with Boyer, Garner lodged a complaint with the police. That led to Bo's Hot Rods being investigated for fraud involving at least $15,000 "by agreeing to do restoration work on a vehicle and not doing [the work] when [it] was already paid," the report states.

It's still unclear how many vehicles were at the shop, what they were worth, what kind of work their owners had paid for and where they are now. Boyer told The Herald last year that the shop did all sorts of work and even made custom-designed cars, saying: "We do some $200 or $300 jobs, and we do some $125,000 jobs."

It's also unclear what happened with the car shop, which appears locked up tight with all its lights off but still is displaying its signs. Boyer is by all accounts a skilled carsmith — his work has been recognized on magazine covers and with national awards.

Abshear said he hasn't pursued legal action — at least not yet — because he's hoping for a more amicable resolution to get his beloved '36 Ford back.

"I gave him enough money to finish the job, and I don't want to be out more money," he said.