Who is Dennis Tuttle?
time, but he's back. When you hear the name Dennis Tuttle
run the other way!
For those of us who’ve been into
the hobby any amount of time, we need not be told there are some real
bad apples out there. Gary Pronman, Dan Pronman, and Fred Engelhart are
a few, and then there's Dennis Tuttle.
By and large, this is an honest
hobby because Mopars tend to attract a more honest crowd than Fords and
General Motors (no joke). Still, over the course of the last twenty
years, we’ve seen crooks come and seen crooks go. This month, we’re
pleased to report one of the biggest snakes in the Mopar hobby, perhaps
the biggest snake the Mopar hobby has ever seen, is no longer in
Now, it can be told because the
charges have been levied, the warrants have gone down, and the long arm
of the law has finally picked up a hammer and nailed the hell out of
this guy. His name is Dennis Tuttle, and if you’re not familiar with
this rather large fellow, you certainly will be very shortly.
We first became acquainted with
Dennis Tuttle approximately six years ago when he was in northern
Oklahoma. At that time, Tuttle was presenting himself as one of the
nation’s premier brokers, restoration facilities and wheeler dealers of
high dollar Mopars.
Born with a gift for smooth talk
mixed with a temper that borders on something out of a sci-fi flick,
Dennis initially made good and became involved with some major players
in the hobby. In short order, he had established strong ties to several
multi-millionaires and had access to very exotic muscle cars; not only
Mopars, but Fords and General Motors cars, as well. He knew the cars
well, so it was easy for him to prey on unsuspecting businessmen who
were new to the hobby. He presented himself as a hard working guy who
could hook them up with each other, establish parts pipelines, restore
cars and network cars amongst an elite circle. From day one, this guy
was bad news.
Our first article which dealt
somewhat with Dennis Tuttle was our false eBay auction of the “Kingfish”
‘Cuda following the alleged sale of a ’71 Hemi Cuda convertible on eBay
for over a million bucks. Another magazine ran a bold story proclaiming
the blue Hemi ‘Cuda convertible had set a world’s record and was the
first million dollar Mopar. Tuttle was right in the center of that story
and the tale of that car’s deal is far more sorted and complex than we
have room for here. This occurred back in January 2003, and we were
informed by principles in the deal that the money involved was about
half what was being reported. But egos were at work and through this
scam of egos, Dennis Tuttle was elevated to the status of a “super
collector” by virtue of association. In reality, he was nothing of the
sort. Dennis was scamming people hand over fist and ripping enthusiasts
off for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Through this period, the
general public assumed Dennis was a true high roller, thus allowing him
to even further take advantage of both the very wealthy and the average
Once we knew Tuttle was involved
in the ‘Cuda deal, we knew something had to be terribly wrong, because
there were three major screw jobs we knew of he’d done to a Pennsylvania
collector by that time. The Nash Bridges close-up ‘Cuda convert which
has now been marvelously restored was disassembled and damn near ruined
by Tuttle, who ripped off the initial buyer for a hefty chunk of cash.
He also handled the initial sale of the tattered Hemi Superbird which
eventually ended up going through Barrett-Jackson in 2004 as a
“survivor” and fetched $190,000 (it was a major restoration in reality).
There was also a Hemi Charger R/T which he sold to several people,
apparently, and never had possession of the car in the first place. And
those three deals all involved just one collector he was getting over
The phone calls and mail we
received from readers who had allegedly been ripped off by Dennis Tuttle
on parts deals mounted up fast, prompting us to watch for ads from him
and ban him from MCG. Dennis disappeared from Oklahoma, leaving a number
of people looking for him in 2004.
In 2004, we ran into Dennis at the New Orleans Mopar show and he
informed us he had moved to Grand Isle, Louisiana. He had some
none-too-kind words for us, but we weren’t’ overly concerned with what
he thought of us. Since Grand Isle is a small fishing island off the
coast, we jokingly said he had been exiled.
Fast forward to late June 2005.
We received a phone call from reader and enthusiast Jeffrey Campbell of
Cleveland, Ohio, informing us that Dennis Tuttle had just been arrested
on multiple counts and he wanted to spread the word that this pit viper
had been caught.
The tale which unfolded ,
verified by a number of sources and two police departments, is far
beyond anything we thought Tuttle capable of. We knew he was a con man,
but what Dennis Tuttle went to jail for is something for the Mopar hobby
history books. Pay attention here. This is an astounding example of how
just man can do an incredible amount of damage in the hobby and
adversely affect so many people. While this snake is out of the grass,
there are others out there, and if he could get away with his alleged
crimes for so long, then there are others who could damn well do the
Dennis Tuttle was arrested by the
Grand Isle Police Department in early June on a warrant filed by the
Roane County Sheriff’s Office in Kingston, Tennessee. Why did Tennessee
issue an arrest warrant for a guy in Louisiana? Theft with an audacity
that’s never been seen in our hobby. What finally landed Dennis Tuttle
in jail and major hot water, ironically, wasn’t a Mopar – it was a roll
According to the Tennessee
warrant, Tuttle went to Roane County and purchased a late model roll
back car hauling truck form a guy for $53,000. Unfortunately, he paid
for that truck with a homemade cashier’s check! He also floated another
fake $10,000 cashier’s check for some car parts at the same time and
used the truck to haul those parts home. By the time the checks were
exposed as fakes, he Tuttle was long gone. Naturally, he hadn’t left his
home address behind. The roll back truck was stolen in this fashion back
in January 2005.
Dennis then began using this
stolen roll back truck to steal other vehicles all over the country.
With his handy dandy instant printing cashier check machine, he
attempted to lay a paper trail coast-to-coast which would net him very
valuable cars and parts.
All of his evil deeds caught up
with him in Cleveland, Ohio in the middle of May. For several weeks,
Dennis had pestered Jeffrey Campbell to sell his red ’70 Six Barrel
‘Cuda. For whatever reason, Dennis decided to go trolling for cars in
this area which was heavily populated with muscle cars. Jeffrey put
Dennis in touch with Ralph Farninacci, who has a pristine black ’68 Hemi
Super Bee. Tuttle then offered to buy the Super Bee.
Within two weeks, he had been put
in touch with a guy who owned a ’71 GTX, a couple with a pair of ‘Cuda
convertibles, a guy with a Boss 429 Mustang, and he’d made a really high
offer on a ’69 Corvette which is a legit former historic Sebring road
race machine. All of these vehicles were within twenty miles of each
other and since the car community there is rather tightly knit. It
occurred to these guys that this Tuttle guy must be a millionaire, but
he sure as hell didn’t look like a millionaire.
Dennis showed up at Jeffrey
Campbell’s home with a homemade cashier’s check for $240,000 to purchase
his ‘Cuda. Both Jeffrey and his wife had an uneasy feeling about the
deal and the check just didn’t look quite right to them. Jeffrey
rejected the offer unless Tuttle would bring him cash, at which point
Tuttle went ballistic and began threatening him.
Jeff’s an airline pilot, a former
Air Force pilot, and a pretty big boy himself, so the threats didn’t
amount to much and the incident ended with Tuttle being told to get the
hell out of there. Jeffrey noted at that point that the truck this guy
was driving from Louisiana was wearing Tennessee plates. He took down
the plate numbers and that set the ball rolling.
Meanwhile, Dennis went over to
Ralph Farninacci’s house and tried to present him with a fake cashier’s
check for $130,000 to buy his Super Bee. Already spooked, Ralph didn’t
like the looks of the deal either and like Jeffrey, refused the check
and stated no deal unless Tuttle could present the cash. Once again,
Tuttle flew into a rage, threatening to “kick Ralph’s ass” before he
final left empty-handed. All told, he reportedly tried to pass fake
checks to the owners of the ‘Cuda converts, the Boss 429, and the
Sebring Corvette, none of which was accepted. Furious, Dennis left Ohio
and returned to Louisiana. That was stupidity on his behalf.
Since Jeffrey had the truck’s
plate numbers, he phoned the numbers into the local police. Sure enough,
the truck was reported stolen. Dennis had given both Jeffrey and Ralph
his Louisiana phone number, so armed with this, when he arrived back at
Grand Isle, Louisiana, he was busted.
The story is far more complex than you’ll believe. When arrested, Tuttle
was living at “The Rusty Pelican” hotel after having been evicted from a
half-million dollar rental house after reportedly doing some $100,000 in
damage to the house. This had recently occurred, so when he was
arrested, the police found seven stolen vehicles on the premises,
including the truck, with the only Mopar on the grounds being a ’67
As of this writing, Dennis Tuttle
had been booked into the Jefferson Parish Prison and was to be sent to
Tennessee. However, once his arrest was in the system, the state of
Illinois filed claim to Dennis Tuttle. It would seem that Mr. Tuttle had
violated parole in Illinois for, of all things, having been convicted of
Once more, the details are
extraordinarily complicated, but Dennis Tuttle was arrested in Illlinois,
tried and convicted of having been involved in the theft of a white 1970
Superbird. After having served six months in jail, some shit-for-brains
parole board turned him loose and he promptly left the state, moved to
Louisiana, and started his antics on an even greater scale – that
explains why we briefly lost track of the guy! When can we do away with
parole boards? This Illinois connection led us to a prominent Minnesota
collector, where the real depth and horrof of what Dennis had gotten
away with mounted up.
Having been convinced that Tuttle
was operating a legit high quality restoration shop in Oklahoma, this
fellow (who’s name we’ll leave out for now because of on-going legal
action) began shipping Mopars to Dennis to be restored. We’re not
talking chump change cars, here, we’re talking a Panther Pink AAR ‘Cuda,
a ’71 Hemi Cuda hardtop, and a ’70 440+6 ‘Cuda. In all, he sent six cars
down along with the funds to restore the cars to current show condition.
This began three years ago.
Tuttle became entangled with a
dealer in Kentucky, who reportedly bought a nice Hemi Superbird which
Dennis had found in Illinois. “Found” is the operative word, as when the
buyer went to title the car, he discovered it was stolen. Somehow,
Tuttle ended up picking the Bird up and carted it back to Oklahoma
before the shit hit the fan.
As all this was unwinding, the
Minnesota collector bought a blue ’70 Hemi Cuda hardtop and paid Dennis
to go pick it up and bring it up to Minnesota for him. Dennis took the
money for delivering the car, but hauled the Hemi Cuda to his place in
Oklahoma instead, telling the buyer the car had a few problems he wanted
to remedy before bringing it to him. Excuses mounted, delays continued,
and finally the owner decided he’d had enough and sent a crew to
retrieve not only the blue Hemi Cuda, but also all six of the other cars
which were supposed to be at Dennis’s shop to be restored.
According to the owner, what then ensued was the stuff nightmares are
made of. Not one of his six cars were at Tuttle’s ramshackle shop, let
alone being restored. Allegedly, Tuttle sold a large number of parts off
the cars, then sold the cars themselves to other collectors as
restoration projects. Three of the cars have been located as of this
writing and legal action is pending to get them back into the owner’s
hands. The nice blue ’70 Hemi Cuda hardtop was nowhere to be found,
however, nor was the white Superbird which Tuttle had offered to sell
Still, Illinois lowered the boom
on the auto theft charges for the Bird and justice was briefly served.
Still, can you imagine being out well over a million bucks and expecting
six restored pristine Mopars only to discover your money had been taken,
and the cars themselves were gone!
As word of his downfall spread in early June, we literally spent three
days on the phone with collectors and enthusiasts from coast-to-coast
who said they had been ripped off by Dennis Tuttle. We can only
encourage each and every one of you to press charges and try to add to
his prison sentence.
There were a number of
accomplices which helped Dennis through the years, some knowingly, some
innocently, so we’d like to see some more arrests made to finish
cleaning all the rats out of the cellars.
We’ll keep you updated on this
story as the charges mount and his hearings come about, but allow us to
state something of major importance to everyone right here. Since we
have the best Mopar fanatic readers in the nation, there are two serious
cars missing thanks to Mr. Tuttle and it’s hard to imagine that they can
stay hidden. Both cars are believed to be stashed away somewhere in
Tulsa, Oklahoma as of this writing. Still missing is the nice blue 1970
Hemi Cuda hardtop, VIN BS23R0B242265, and the white Superbird, VIN
RMZ23U0A174584 stolen out of Illinois. If you have any information on
these two cars, please get in touch with us immediately and we’ll pass
the information along to the authorities.
This article was contributed
to this public service website by Rob Wolf.
Originally authored: October 2005
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