Super Replicas' websites trumpet perfect copies of Ferraris and Lamborghinis powered by anything from Toyota V6s to BMW V12s, all depending on the size of your imagination and your wallet. The reality is far less glamorous, according to exclusive videos shot in secret and featured on Jalopnik.
The unedited video footage you are about to see comes from Ryan Grassley, also known as HalfThrottle: avid motorcyclist, videographer, former National Guardsman and ex-Panama resident. When Grassley lived in Panama, he managed to score an up close and personal look at a storage facility in the city of David where Super Replicas stores at least some of their vehicles.
Yes, vehicles. This makes it clear they have or had at least two cars in their possession — but as you'll see, neither is a very impressive "replica," and neither of them even start after multiple attempts.
What's not clear from any of this is what these cars are even used for. All the images of cars shown on Super Replicas' websites are of actual cars, taken from other sites, not their own replicas. And in more than a year's worth of research, Jalopnik has never found a single satisfied Super Replicas customer, let alone a buyer who has received any kind of car at all.
It's also not clear whether the "replicas" shown here were actually built by Super Replicas or if they were obtained elsewhere.
The videos also show their "garage" to be a far cry from the sophisticated international operation they claim to be, but rather just a shoddy-looking driveway where no one actually seems to know how to work on a car.
Super Replicas has not responded to an email request for comment sent via their website, Mansory Cars, which is not affiliated with the real Mansory.
The videos also contain conversations with Daniel Seppings, the accused scam artist and religious extremist behind the company — a man whose bizarre previous chance encounter with Grassley spurred him to make these videos in the first place.
These videos represent the most definitive proof yet that Super Replicas is not what they claim to be. Watch them and you'll get a firsthand look at the man who is accused of fleecing prospective customers out of thousands of dollars, all while holding himself up as a religious prophet.
But first, here's how Grassley says he got the videos in the first place.
Ryan Grassley grew up in Utah, but ended up in David, Panama the same reason a lot of people end up in new and exciting places: a girl. He married a woman from Panama in 2009 and moved there to be with her while she finished school.
Grassley was raised Mormon, which is how he came to know some Mormon missionaries not long after arriving in David. He said the missionaries recommended he get to know a man in the neighborhood named "John" who, like him, was a white foreigner who spoke little Spanish.
Grassley said the missionaries knew he liked to make videos about motorcycling, so they suggested he do some videos for John's company — a company that supposedly made supercars.
"I remember thinking it was strange that he had a supercar company in David, Panama," Grassley said, especially considering that David is some five hours from Panama City, where the Canal can be used to ship goods all over the world.
Still, Grassley said he was excited for the opportunity because he was trying to establish himself as a videographer at the time. Grassley asked John about it, and while John expressed some interest, he kept putting it off.
Fast forward about a year later. Grassley was talking to the same missionaries again when they told him they had found out about, as he puts it, "John's crazy history."
"They said, 'That guy John thinks he's a prophet and wants to start his own church,'" Grassley said. And generally, such people are to be avoided.
But he realized something else — he knew who "John" was. He had even met him before.
At this point it's helpful to recap some of what we know about Daniel Seppings.
He has gone by many names, including Ken Scott and Tony Sinclair. But Jalopnik's research into the man behind Super Replicas — based on his own bizarre writing, accounts in public records and news stories of the various scams he's been accused of running — indicates he was born in Australia, was married and had a family there, came to regard himself as a kind of Mormon prophet and bringer of the "true gospel," moved to the U.S. in the 1990s, and was ultimately dropped off in Honduras following immigration violations a few years later.
Seppings later made his way down to Panama after being accused of scamming Hondurans and having sex with underage girls, according to Honduran news reports.
But while he was in the U.S. Seppings married an American woman. She happened to be friends with Grassley when he was in high school in Utah. And after she and Seppings were married, he started "acting crazy" and telling people he was a"prophet," Grassley said.
"It was the mother of all coincidences," Grassley said. "An Australian guy who thinks he's a prophet? It's gotta be the same guy."
Seppings' former wife, Emily*, told Jalopnik via email that she met Seppings in May 1996 through their church. At the time, he had only been in the U.S. a few months and was working as a carpenter. Their courtship was brief but concluded in marriage
"It didn't take very long for me to realize the mistake I had made," Emily said.
Emily described Seppings as a compulsive liar, a person who tells falsehood after falsehood until they become truth to him, and someone who can maintain a facade of normalcy for only so long before launching into bizarre tirades about religion and government conspiracies.
Soon after they were married, Emily discovered Seppings was living in the U.S. illegally; admitted he had a wife in Australia and five kids; and told her he was a prophet ordered by God to "take down" the Mormon church. Seppings also told her God dictated new "scriptures" for him to write down.
"With his religious ramblings, there were anti-American rants as well," Emily said. "There was no end to to his hatred of the American government. Every agency, organization and department was corrupt. He was a big believer in all things conspiracy."
During their brief marriage, Seppings made various "pilgrimages" to places like New York and the Grand Canyon. Emily said she made it clear she wanted no part of what he was doing, and after he declared he needed to "go into the wilderness" again in 1997, she never saw him again. After learning he was still legally married in Australia, she got the marriage annulled.
"When I met Daniel, I was pretty naive about life and made serious errors in judgement," she said. "I own up to the choices I made based on the information I had at the time."
Her attempts to get Seppings caught by the police and immigration officials were unsuccessful, but she managed to get the FBI on his trail, which resulted in his arrest and a deportation date being set after he was released from jail.
But after being freed, he was arrested for disrupting a church service while threatening people with a pellet gun and claiming that he was Jesus Christ, according to news reports. Seppings was finally deported shortly after that incident.
"The nature of my scamming by Daniel Seppings wasn't the same as getting robbed of $40,000 on a car that went undelivered, but my scamming was devastating both personally and emotionally," Emily said.
Grassley said he only knew Emily's husband in passing at the time, which is why he couldn't remember his name or immediately recognize face when he went to Panama. But something did ring a bell when the Mormon missionaries told him "John" was trying to establish his own religious movement based on the rambling writings on his website. This is how the missionaries came to know his real name.
Grassley contacted Emily, and sure enough, determined that her former husband was the man now living in Panama.
Armed with this information, Grassley decided it was time to make that video happen after all. "I knew the car company had to be a scam if this guy was involved," he said.
In his spare time, Grassley did some research on Super Replicas and came into contact with people who lost money to the company. Seppings, he said, had come to live the high life in Panama using the cash that buyers would send him expecting a perfect supercar copy only to receive nothing in return.
"I wanted to embarrass him," Grassley said. "I wanted to shut him down. He has a really nice house in Panama, a really big house, because people send him so much money."
The problem was, none of the victims would come forward, even when Grassley suggested contacting the FBI.
"I used (the FBI's) tip hotline to give them all the info I had about Seppings. They asked for the contact information I had four people in the United States who had been scammed," he said. "However, when I asked these people for their information none of them replied to my emails."
For months he would see Seppings in passing — David, he says, is not a large town by any means — and he would suggest making the video again. After some time passed, Grassley said he was ready to leave Panama and move home when he ran into Seppings at a grocery store.
At last, in July 2012, Seppings agreed to do the video, giving Grassley $100 and a ride to Super Replicas' garage.
The garage, shown in the first video, wasn't much to write home about. There were no tools or machine parts lying around to indicate any kind of mechanical work was done there.
Filming surreptitiously, with his camera aimed downward at times, Grassley captured two cars — a red Enzo Ferrari-looking machine with what appeared to be a Toyota engine under its front hood and a black Lamborghini lookalike.
"The fit and finish was very poor," Grassley said. But that's not what Super Replicas advertises.
In the video, Seppings can be seen clearly milling about while other people try to get the cars to start. One of them is Rither Sanchez, the Super Replicas employee famous for posing next to other people's cars in order to pass them off as replicas.
Grassley said he's not certain what these cars are used for either, but he thinks they might only be sold in Panama and not sent overseas, and may also exist to help the company at least look like a legitimate operation if the authorities ever showed up.
Neither car would start, Grassley said. And about 37 minutes into the video, he captured them pouring gasoline into a tank via a plastic tube and a cut-up coke bottle as a funnel.
At least one person was there from Panama City to buy a car, but Grassley isn't sure if he did or not. The man was told "The cars started yesterday," he said.
Eventually, unable to start the cars, Grassley and Seppings called off the "shoot" because they had nothing to film. Seppings gave Grassley a ride home.
Grassley said that while he planned ahead by taking along a motorcycle GPS device and having a friend notify police if something went wrong, he didn't feel scared about being found out or recognized by Seppings.
"I turned all that off," he said. "Thinking back now, it was crazy. We had met before! He could have recognized me!"
On the way back, Grassley and Seppings had a conversation, which he also filmed in secret. Seppings responded to the criticisms of Super Replicas in the same manner he did to me last year when I spoke to him on the phone: "Jealous competitors" who can't match their prices and make videos to discredit them. The "big guy" snuffing out the "little guy."
He even addresses the strangely-edited video that makes it look like Steven Spielberg is one of their customers and the later-discredited claims of associating with drag racer Jim "Jet" Neilson and hot rodder Chip Foose.
Daniel Seppings has answers for everything. They just don't make much sense, except to him.
Grassley left Panama not long after that. He kept in touch with Seppings off and on via email, and the last time he heard from him in March of last year, Seppings claimed he had found the Ark of Covenant in Panama.
I came into contact with Grassley a year ago when Jalopnik started researching Super Replicas. He told me about his videos, but wanted to hold off on publishing them because his wife occasionally had to travel to Panama to sort out some visa issues and he feared for her safety.
"Good work is hard to find in Panama," he said. "I feared his employees might want to protect their employer." And because Seppings doesn't take money from people in Panama, he says the local authorities won't go after him.
Now, with his wife out of the country safely, Grassley has one message for prospective Super Replicas buyers: "Don't do it."
"He uses that money to start churches and fool people and take advantage of them," he said. "You're enabling this 'religious figure' to do what he does."
Seppings' former wife Emily concurred.
"People should be very aware that he is incapable of having honest dealings of any kind with anybody," she said. "Every conversation he has had in the last 20 years has been a spin in order to cover his tracks. He's basically been living on the lam for the last 20 years and has no concern for the path of destruction he has left or will continue to leave."
Grassley said he doesn't know when it will happen, but he thinks Seppings' deeds will come back to haunt him eventually.
"He's been an asshole to so many people, he's running out of places to go on Earth," he said.
*Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.
Top graphic credit Jason Torchinsky