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  • Purchasing salvage title car for track use/ need advice

    Hey,

    After selling my 88' M3 a few years ago, I have been itching to purchase another, only this time to be used as a dedicated track car rather than a daily driver. This weekend, I am going to be heading up to look at an fully running 89' with a salvage (accident) title for what seems to be a pretty good price.

    The seller has been completely upfront about his knowledge of the car's history (kudos to him for being such a stand-up guy), and says that while he has no idea exactly what happened in the accident to result in the car being given a "salvage" title, he is aware that the damage occured to front driver's side, due to the signs of repair (he noted that it was obvious that the driver's side A-pillar was "pulled back into alignment"). Structurally, eveything else (core support, etc.) seemed to have been repaired well. For peace of mind, he took it to a frame shop where it was determined that it was a little out of spec and they proceeded to tweak it a bit and now it is completely correct. Other than that, he said that he drove it on the street for over a year with no problems.

    So here are my concerns/questions:

    1. Needing to pull an A-pillar back into alignment seems to be the result of a major impact. Has anyone ever had to have this done after an accident with their own car and repaired it? If so, was your shop able to get the car back to within factory tolerances? Is this a common thing to happen?

    2. What specifically should I look for when I check out the car to determine the quality of the rebuild/potential structural integrety issues?

    3. How capable are good body shops at getting a chassis completely back to within factory tolerances? How expensive is this (generally speaking of course)?

    4. The salvage title was issued in 1990, only a year after the car was sold. I know now that the BB value of the M3 has dropped significantly, most accidents will result in a salvage title. However, being given a salvage title in 90', when the car had a much higher market value has me a bit worried as to extent of the damage that occured.

    I will be completely stripping the car down to the shell to cage, reinforce and repaint. So if I need to take it to a body shop for some minor tweaking, its not problem. My biggest concern is all of the pick-up points for the suspension, subframes, etc.

    Thanks in advance!

    - Andy

  • #2
    if the price is right, go for it. with a good 6+2 cage, the car will be plenty stiff. make sure the cage you have built fits in with bmwcca club racing rules, b/c that would make it easier to sell down the road if you ever choose to do that. the m3 can be competitive in JP. i don't know what your plans are for a track car, but you want to think about this stuff as you may get the itch to go wheel-to-wheel. i've seen many cars built for driving schools that had to have many of the mods "undone" in order to be legal.

    make sure they didn't use the front subframe to pull it on the frame machine. i saw this done recently had the subframe had to be replaced, which is not a big deal since you probably want to drop it anyways and add reinforcements. also, check for rust around all the repair areas like behind the pedal box and under the fuse box
    James
    sigpic

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    • #3
      I would use a camber/caster gauge and a level surface to get an idea of what you're up against. Also, if a sparco strutbar can be put on in <10 minutes, that would be a good sign of relative strut tower alignment.
      -Eric

      Comment


      • #4
        Rear quarter damage

        I am in the process of restoring a M3 that was hit hard on the drivers side rear to the point where the wheel was not even close to sitting correctly. I got another trailing arm from a parted out 325 and installed this thinking this was the source of the deformation.

        The wheel still does not sit right although it is mych closer to being correct. It toes out and has too much camber. I am thinking that the tabs on the subframe where the trailing arms attach have deformed also.

        If this is the case would one try to repair the subframe or replace it?

        If I replace is there a reason not to replace with another nony M subframe and just weld on the exhaust hanger brackets?

        Also, are there any other possible points of deformation? The passenger side wheel is sitting correctly from visual inspection.

        Thanks for your advice.

        Comment


        • #5
          My understanding is that once a car has a bent frame it is impossible to bring it back within factory specs. It can be close, but not the same. The best way to see this is by taking the car to a frame shop that has a laser Car-O-Liner machine. This machine measures the frame and compares the measurements to the factory spec. Since the laser measures things like the distance from the top-right side to the bottom-left side (i.e. a measurement of distance combined with height), you will be able to see if the car was repaired or not. That being said, have heard that there is a place in Belgium that can straighten a frame to within factory specs, but who knows. The Car-O-Liner provides the results as "number of millimeters" off spec, with the factory tollerances allowing up to a few millimeters for each measurement. Here is the link to Car-O-Liner: http://www.car-o-liner.se.

          Cheers, Daniel.
          Last edited by BeastPower; 11-26-2007, 09:30 PM.
          - 1987 M3 (e30)
          -- BeastPower Motorsports: www.beastpower.com
          - -Eisenmann Exhaust Systems: www.eisenmann.us

          Comment


          • #6
            Absolutely frame repairs can be done, there is an entire repair industry based on this.

            I agree with many of the previous posts... get the info from the shop that checked out the frame, or if it is not available then get a second opinion.

            The damages to the vehicle must have been extensive to cause it to be salvage car back in 1990 when the car was worth approx. 30K (35K new).
            If an insurance company were handling the repair, an ECONOMIC total loss threshold would have been around 21-23K.. If that's the case
            and someone has repaired the vehicle now, then you are getting a really good deal.

            It's certainly possible that the damages were enough to cause the vehicle to not be deemed repairable structurally as per industry standards.
            This is a STRUCTURAL total loss situation. If this was a road going car, that might be an issue and cause for serious concern. HOWEVER, since this will be a track only car, I presume that the fact that someone has actually invested the time to straighten the car, plus the fact that you will be installing a cage in the car, as well as the price savings due to the salvage title, are enough to make buying the car feasible, if not desirable! From this point, you are back to confirming that the structure is straight enough that the suspension will all line up etc..

            My original 1991 car sustained 14K of damages in 1996.... front end collision.. damages into the front wheelhouse and frame. (I hit another
            car in the rear in an offset collision that was my fault). The car was THIS close to being an economic total loss. I begged for it to be
            repaired, and the insurance company went ahead and did so (value for the car was right at 20K at that time). I never had a single issue
            with that car. I was not really a big fan of strut braces, and did not get one until 2003 or so. It took me all of ten minutes to install it.
            Clearly the car was repaired WELL. The repair shop that did the work was EXCITED and ENTHUSIASTIC about doing the repairs, and clearly
            did an excellent job, so hopefuly the same ocurred with the car you are looking at.

            In order to rule out any serious issues with the vehicle, it sounds like a second opinion from a known good frame shop would be well worth the
            possible $200-250 in setup and frame time for them to check the vehicle out completely. You may even want to look for a frame shop that specializes in race or modified cars.
            Last edited by M3 Adjuster; 11-27-2007, 08:02 AM.
            Mark Williams
            Dallas, TX

            Nothing says "welcome to the neighborhood" like a search... oh wait... looks like they are all gone! :rastajake:

            sigpic

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            • #7
              Originally posted by M3 Adjuster View Post
              Absolutely frame repairs can be done, there is an entire repair industry based on this.
              Clearly, however, my understanding is that one will always be able to tell if a frame has been repaired or not, no matter how well it was repaired. It is simply impossible to get everything straightened perfectly so that everything exactly matches the original specification.

              Being a little out of spec compared with stock is probably fine, especially for a track car with a cage installed.

              Cheers, Daniel.
              Last edited by BeastPower; 11-27-2007, 10:15 AM.
              - 1987 M3 (e30)
              -- BeastPower Motorsports: www.beastpower.com
              - -Eisenmann Exhaust Systems: www.eisenmann.us

              Comment


              • #8
                it seems you are addressing two issues.


                1) will repairs be done back to spec? - again... yes.. repairs can be peformed to get the vehicle back to the original specification
                (or range, when there is such a measurement)

                2) will repairs to the frame be visible? - yes, absolutely... this sort of extensive repair will always be visible to those that
                are well versed in vehicle repairs and possibly to others not so well versed.... So yes... if one is looking, one can certainly
                see that the repairs have been done.

                i agree, for the purposes of this thread, indeed, the vehicle being out of spec a bit in some ways is really not a concern,
                as long as the suspension is able to be be lined up and is within spec.
                Last edited by M3 Adjuster; 11-27-2007, 10:32 AM.
                Mark Williams
                Dallas, TX

                Nothing says "welcome to the neighborhood" like a search... oh wait... looks like they are all gone! :rastajake:

                sigpic

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by M3 Adjuster View Post
                  it seems you are addressing two issues.


                  1) will repairs be done back to spec? - again... yes.. repairs can be peformed to get the vehicle back to the original specification
                  (or range, when there is such a measurement)

                  2) will repairs to the frame be visible? - yes, absolutely... this sort of extensive repair will always be visible to those that
                  are well versed in vehicle repairs and possibly to others not so well versed.... So yes... if one is looking, one can certainly
                  see that the repairs have been done.

                  i agree, for the purposes of this thread, indeed, the vehicle being out of spec a bit in some ways is really not a concern,
                  as long as the suspension is able to be be lined up and is within spec.
                  Yup, I agree.

                  Cheers, Daniel.
                  - 1987 M3 (e30)
                  -- BeastPower Motorsports: www.beastpower.com
                  - -Eisenmann Exhaust Systems: www.eisenmann.us

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    personally for a track car accidents don't bother me as long as the cars close to specs and tracks true. throw a cage or roll bar in the car and have some fun.

                    Shes sold now :(

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                    • #11
                      Our race car was a salvage car...it cam "pre gutted" fire damaged so it was a mess. Made gutting it pretty simple though.

                      A good stiff cage will be all you need..Just make sure the body is straight before the cage goes in.
                      Gary Gray
                      88 M3 Alpine white Track/race car (maybe a turbo in future)
                      89 M3 ZinnerBot (restoration project)
                      91 VW GTI 2.0 16V
                      01 325it Daily Driver/part time track car, not stock

                      If you can take it apart...you can make it faster...

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