After Strouds Motor Specialists in Fordingbridge went bust in 2006 with debts of £650,000, an investigation by receivers and the police discovered that owner Colin Stroud had defrauded customers who never received their cars.
Southampton Crown Court heard that on one occasion, less than three weeks before Stroud petitioned for bankruptcy, he had banked a cheque for £23,205 from a customer who test drove a Toyota pick-up and wanted to buy it, but the vehicle was never delivered to him.
He was convicted of six counts of theft and two of evasion of a liability, and was jailed for two years.
In mitigation, the court heard Stroud was a man of previous good character and his offences were born of criminal recklessness, not of greed.
His marriage has since ended because of his convictions, the court was told.