F1 champion Jenson Button embroiled in legal row after being accused of ‘fraudulently’ selling prized 1970 Ford Bronco for $166k at auction as his own – when it ‘actually belonged to his US model girlfriend Brittny Ward’
Formula One champion Jenson Button is at the center of a legal battle where he has been accused of selling a fraudulent 1970 Ford Bronco at auction for $166,000 by ‘falsely’ claiming it belonged to him.
Mr. Button, 44, who won the 2009 title and is now an F1 pundit for Sky Sports, put the automatic dark blue truck up for sale in January 2022 on a website called Collecting Cars.
The ad, which is still online, clearly identifies Button as the owner – adding: ‘It’s been in Jenson’s possession for the past four years.’
It continues: ‘This is an eye-catching custom truck that would make an excellent weekend cruiser or beach car’, adding that there are ‘just 170 miles on the clock’.
It was bought by British company director Leo Eccles, 45, but he has now launched legal action against the GP ace, claiming he is ‘not the rightful owner’ and instead belongs to his ‘girlfriend’ Brittny Ward, who she became a wife after the sale.
Jenson Button posted this photo on Instagram of him behind the wheel of the Ford Bronco with the caption: ‘Cruising in Brittny Ward’s Bronco, basically keeping her battery charged!’
Leo Eccles (pictured) has now launched legal action against Button, claiming he was ‘not the rightful owner’ of the Bronco
Jenson Button and his model wife Brittny Ward pose for a photo together on vacation
Mr. Button put the automatic dark blue custom truck up for sale on a website called Collecting Cars in January 2022
Mr Eccles says he paid a premium on the car because he believed it was owned by Button – but claims the car is worth a fraction of that value, around $32,000, because his girlfriend was the true owner.
As a result of the ongoing legal wrangling, Mr Eccles – who is the director of a Gloucestershire-based gambling firm called Ginger Fox – and also has an address in Bromley, Kent, has still not collected the car from the US, two years after the sale.
According to court documents filed in Los Angeles, and seen by MailOnline, Mr Eccles claims that although the vehicle was advertised as belonging to Button at the time of sale, it was in fact his girlfriend Brittny’s car.
The vehicle is alleged to be registered in Brittny Ward’s name, not Button’s.
Brittny posted photos of the Bronco on her Instagram indicating it was hers — according to the court documents and tagged them “my girlfriend,” but the post appears to have since been removed.
In 2019, Button himself posted a photo sitting in the car with the caption ‘Cruising in Brittny Ward’s Bronco, basically keep the battery charged for her!’.
Then in November 2020, the former F1 ace appeared on a podcast for Collecting Cars, the company that organized the auction of the Bronco two years later.
Their website reveals it has also sorted out sales of at least three other vehicles for Button, including a Porsche, a VW van and a Land Rover.
During the podcast interview, what still onlineButton lists the cars he owns, from a Baja truck to “a couple of Jaguars,” adding: “I have a Bronco, which isn’t actually mine, it’s my teacher’s car, but I’ll say it’s mine’.
The court documents read: ‘Button’s successful career and lucrative sponsorship deals have made him a very wealthy man and his fortune is estimated to be between $150-$170 million.
‘Yet, despite his wealth, Button had no qualms about listing a vehicle for sale and advertising it as his property.
‘Its reputation led to the car being sold for $166,000,’ adding ‘even though the same car was previously sold to users for only $32,000.’
After Button shared a photo behind the wheel of the Bronco, his wife Brittny replied: ‘Naughty boy! It is (sic) has no plates’
Button has been married to his wife Brittny since 2020 and the couple have two children
Mr Eccles (photo) has mr. Asked Button to return the $166,000 and cancel the sale once he discovered the true ownership, saying he had ‘obtained the sum by fraud’
The paperwork adds: ‘Although the sale amount far exceeded the intrinsic value of the vehicle, it was not linked to Button.
‘As it turns out, Button didn’t own the car, and never did. The car was owned and driven by his wife Ward, who posted a photo of the car on her Instagram account with the caption ‘my girl’.
Mr. Eccles told Mr. Button, who also works as a senior adviser to Williams Racing, asked to repay the $166,000 and cancel the sale once he discovered the true ownership, saying he had ‘obtained the sum by fraud’.
In his claim, the married father of two – who is a keen yachtsman – added that Mr. Button failed to mention that the car needed ‘significant repairs’ when it was listed.
It’s not clear what the ‘significant repairs’ are, as the vehicle’s listing says it’s in ‘fair condition’ with a number of ‘paint chips’ – although it does emphasize that the fuel injection adjustment shield doesn’t work, but likely agv ‘is not connected correctly’. It then goes on to say there are ‘no other known electrical weaknesses’.
Auction website Collecting Cars shows it has sold at least four cars listed as owned by Jenson Button, and two that previously belonged to him.
The court document says that Mr Eccles would not have bought the car if he had known that Mr Button’s girlfriend was the rightful owner.
He adds that when he approached Button to cancel the sale, he “offered a picture of himself in the car” and “re-registered it in his name”.
The document filed in Los Angeles County Court formally accuses Button and his wife of fraud, willful misrepresentation and breach of contract and business code.
Mr. Button (pictured, during his racing career in 2009) claims that Mr. Eccles withdraws from the deal because he is ‘unable to register the car’ in his own country
Mr Eccles claims the car (pictured) is worth around $32,000, a fraction of that value because Mr. Button’s wife was the real owner
Lawyers for Mr. Button says that Mr. Eccles was ‘looking for a way out of the deal’ as he had ‘buyer’s remorse’ about the car (pictured)
But Button hit back with his own claim for “declaratory relief,” which under California state law is a legal procedure designed for those seeking “preventive justice.”
Specifically, its purpose is to “set controversies to rest before they lead to the rejection of obligations, infringements of rights or commissions of injustice.”
Her claim reads that Mr. Eccles asked him to ‘keep the vehicle and put it in storage until he could arrange for transport and registration in his home country’.
It also adds how Mr Eccles asked Button to make ‘improvements to the vehicle’ which he did which included fitting rear seat belts which he paid for.
Mr. Button claims Mr. Eccles backs out of the deal because he is ‘unable to register the car’ in his own country.
The counterclaim adds that Mr. Button and his wife are ‘ready, willing and able to deliver the vehicle to Eccles, but he refuses’.
Lawyers for Mr. Button says that Mr. Eccles was ‘looking for a way out of the deal’ as he had ‘buyer’s remorse’.
Button married American former model Brittny (33) in 2022 – after selling the Bronco in January of that year – and they now live in Los Angeles with their two children.
He had a 17-year career in Formula 1 and won the 2009 title while driving for Brawn.
MailOnline has tried to contact both parties and no date has been set for the hearing in Los Angeles despite the paperwork being lodged late last year.
Brown, Neri, Smith and Khan representing Mr Eccles and Foley, Bezek, Behle and Curtis acting for Mr Button, both LA-based law firms, were also approached. Neither party has commented.