Warbird In eBay Flap

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

An Australian court is being asked to rule whether a man who placed a last-minute bid on a vintage airplane presented on eBay should be its rightful new owner. Peter Smythe says Dr. Vin Thomas didn't abide by the rules of eBay when he sold the plane, a 1946 Wirraway (a variation of the T-6 built under license in Australia) to someone who didn't bid through eBay. Thomas had a reserve price of $150,000 on the aircraft and Smythe matched it with just 20 seconds left in the sale term. But Thomas had already sold the plane to someone who saw the eBay listing but contacted him privately and offered $250,000. Smythe says the whole entrepreneurial foundation of eBay is at stake in the case.

The judge in the suit apparently agrees that something isn't right. He's ordered the airplane remain in its hangar until the dispute is settled. Thomas insists he's done nothing wrong. eBay isn't commenting directly on this case but it has billed Thomas for $2,000 it says it's owed for fees and commissions resulting from the sale, indicating it believed the sale was completed through its Web site. There are only five flying Wirraways. They differ from T-6s and Harvards in that they have a rounded tail and an air scoop on the cowl. They're also set up to carry weapons and bombs.