The $21 Million "Miracle Cars" ScamHow Two Boys Fleeced America's Churchgoers.
BY NICK BOBAK
By John Phillips III
Paperback, 368 pages, $15.95; New York: Carroll & Graf
Click on "Purple" Miracle Cars for the Complete rest of the Story:
John Phillips's God Wants You to Roll is the book-length version of a feature he wrote in the October 2003 issue of Car and Driver called"Miracle Cars
" This true story of two security guards, Robert "Buddha" Gomez and James Nichols, who end up fleecing thousands of people across the United States into buying nonexistent "miracle cars," is stranger than fiction. The two young men concoct a story that Buddha is the heir to a $411 million fortune and that his deceased father wanted to give away hundreds of cars to well-deserving Christians. They con churchgoers into believing they can have a miracle car for the bargain price of about $1000 and that the car will be delivered after the estate is settled. From their small start in Nichols's family church to running a nationwide multimillion-dollar swindle for seven years, Gomez and Nichols eventually suffer a falling out but are reunited in a Missouri federal courthouse. Phillips, who spent a month in Missouri at the trial, covers the court case with amazing attention to detail, capturing the particulars of the investigation and trial with a lawyer's eye and a gossip reporter's curiosity. Phillips's characteristic prose masterfully absorbs the personalities, the terrific lies, the greed, and the eventual bust.