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Old 05-26-2010, 04:53 PM
 
Location: PHX, AZ
211 posts, read 638,670 times
Reputation: 201

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I'm looking for a little input from the C-D gearhead community.

I was rear-ended, the other driver was deemed at-fault, he had coverage in place at the time. The insurance carrier has declared my vehicle a total loss as the cost to repair exceeds the value of the vehicle according to their "independent" 3rd party valuation service. The car is a limited edition, 18 year old Mitsubishi Galant VR4 (number 464/1000).

From what I gather, once a salvage title has been issued, the car is no longer "roadworthy" in the eyes of the law. This is an older, limited edition vehicle, and is being considered totaled due to the poor valuation determined by Autosource - not because it's anywhere remotely close to being unsafe or unfit for the road.

There is minor frame damage, resulting in slight - but entirely manageable - interference with the rear, driver side door (took the hit just off-center towards the driver's side). I could likely adjust the doors on the driver side and pass the $50 DOT level III inspection with flying colors.

I could negotiate a decent settlement and let the insurance carrier total the car, going back to the DMV the same day to pass the inspection and issue a restored title, and continuing to drive it.

Thing is, I don't want a salvage title on this car. Auto liability insurance is not meant to establish the value of vehicles, it's meant to reimburse actual losses when the policyholder is at fault.

Is there any reason why I can't approach this situation as follows?

It will cost me at least $4000 to replace my vehicle with one in similar condition or it will cost me $3000 to have it repaired at the facility of my choosing. I will not accept my vehicle being considered a total loss.

I have plenty of documentation to support my value claims (nearly 60 specimens listed for sale since the first of the year), but if the insurance company is unwilling to deal, I can just take their insured to court, right?

Not like they can force me to accept their offer or otherwise have my title revoked independently, right?

I have two of these cars and already have one totaled out in the garage undergoing rally car prep. I'm fine with that one being a restored salvage title because one day I know I'm going to roll it or bend it out in the desert. I bought the second one to fully restore and enjoy long term. I really don't want it to be a junker on paper.

Thanks for the read. I appreciate it.

(Pictures taken this past weekend. Post-accident, no repairs performed.)
Attached Thumbnails
Gearhead needs help! Total loss, salvage titles, and roadworthiness...-img00363-20100523-1453.jpg   Gearhead needs help! Total loss, salvage titles, and roadworthiness...-img00358-20100523-1450.jpg  
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:43 PM
 
Location: Vancouver, B.C., Canada
11,154 posts, read 29,150,448 times
Reputation: 5479
hmm that sucks but if it's been in a accident and will cost you 3K to fix while one with a clean title will cost 4K I would go with another one with a clean title. It will be worth more if you plan on keep it and selling it as a rare car.
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:05 PM
 
11,550 posts, read 52,918,471 times
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As above, your economics don't make sense to keep/restore a $4,000 car with $3,000 work.

Something not right when you assert that you only need to adjust a door and the car would otherwise be correct. Frame/paint/body shops aren't that stupid to press for $3,000 worth of repairs for such minor damage. There must be something that they're seeing that is seriously out of whack with your vehicle.

I'm not familiar with these cars, but I do know that many vehicles on the road today when hit at various locations around the body ... even a "minor" tap ... will cause the structure to collapse in various ways that compromise the structural integrity and safety of the car. A competent shop will see this damage and address it correctly as opposed to simply doing cosmetic repairs that don't take care of the structure.

I've seen way too many cars cosmetically repaired and incorrectly returned to service that had "given their all" in the first impact, and were not going to protect the occupants in the next impact ... let alone issues like proper alignment/tire wear/handling issues from a compromised structure.

Of course, you need to reach an equitable settlement with the other party's insurance company for the real value of your car if they're going to total it. Keep in mind that asked prices are not valuations; you need SOLD prices of comparable cars for your valuation.

You can also sue the other driver for your losses if you can't get a decent settlement from their insurance company. But if you get fairly close to your valuation from the insurance company, do you think that it will be worth the costs of suing/winning/collecting from the other party for the marginal difference? From my perspective, your time is better spent on establishing a good value and negotiating a settlement with the insurance company ... who has money ... than chasing around after the fact trying to get money from that other driver.

All other considerations aside, if you decide to keep a salvage title vehicle on the road, have you checked into what it will cost to insure it again, if you can even get an insurer to do so in your state?
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:16 PM
 
Location: Pikesville, MD
5,228 posts, read 15,192,704 times
Reputation: 4846
Ah, lot's of shops wil inflate teh costs of doing something to offset the costs of the hassles fo dealing with insurance companies.

I've rebuilt salvage cars that were hit pretty hard, had them driving around and get hit again with no adverse effects from prior damage. One frequent flyer came in a third time, and I overbid on it just to not rebuild it again.

While metal does fatigue and become brittle, it takes a LOT of folding, repeatedly, in the same spot to do so. One accident won't do it, and even the second rarely stresses the metal enough to be a problem. To illustrate, take a bit of 22 guage sheetmetal and fold it to a crease. unflode it and flatten it out. Fold it in the same spot. Unfold it and fold it a number of times and see how long it takes to get soft and want to tear.

On the OP's car, a simple frame machine pull with a couple taps to the inner folded bits with a body hammer would make it completely useable and safe. But, no mater what, once theinsurance company and state have determined that it's a salvage, it'll be branded as such permanently.

I've never had a problem getting a salveage titled car insured. I've rebuilt many. Here's an example of one I did (also showing that in every salve rebuild case, I took extensive pictures of before, during, and after, so there was no hidden work):

Porsche Rebuild Page 1

To me, salvage means little, as there was no more work in that than in the restoration of my non salvage, but rusty, Fiat Spider:

'81 Fiat 2000 Spyder

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Old 05-26-2010, 07:08 PM
 
11,550 posts, read 52,918,471 times
Reputation: 16324
Merc63 ...

so are you suggesting that the OP has the equipment, knowledge, expertise and ability that you have to achieve a professional roadworthy and safe restoration of their car?

My bet is the OP is highly dependent upon a frame/body shop to restore their car to a proper condition. As noted, their price is $3,000.

Even with your Porsche 911 example, you note that the $2,000 salvage vehicle took some extensive restoration work, and when done ... with a salvage title history was still only worth thousands less than a unmolested car, which is still worth a lot more than the OP's car. The economics worked for you with your shop and talents, but aren't really favorable for the new owner of the car. They bought a car for a lot less than FMV for a straight one, but that's all it's worth, too.
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:42 PM
 
Location: PHX, AZ
211 posts, read 638,670 times
Reputation: 201
Appreciate the feedback, gents. Solid work on that Porsche and Fiat, Merc.

You know how it goes with situations like this, the longer you go without hearing from anyone in a position to resolve the matter, the more time you spend thinking about this possible outcome or that one and it's good to get an outside perspective.

Allstate's initial estimate was $1525 in repairs. The most recent adjuster I spoke to said $1900. They said the car was worth $1000 and offered me $800 after salvage. My local Mitsubishi dealership (why not) quoted $2700+.

There's a good amount of pulling involved, although nothing on par with that Porsche Merc posted. I've got a quarter panel interfering with a door by maybe 3-5mm and a c-pillar *just* starting to buckle where it meets the roof. Ideally, I'd like to be reimbursed enough to cover the cost of just the structural repairs, strip the rear end down myself, deliver the car to a shop where it could be tugged back into shape, and then reassemble myself.

I'd prefer to provide data samples of recently sold specimens, but with less than 1400 of these remaining on the road today, it's a bit tricky to do. There are 12 in the Phoenix metro area right now. I know the 8 people who own 10 of them. The insurance company is going to want to know what they are selling for in my area.

There's only 1 currently for sale in Phoenix. It hasn't moved under its own power in something like 3 years. You could plant a garden in the dirt collected on the upper surfaces. It comes with an engine and transmission, although these will have to be re-installed. Finally, it has no brakes - as in, there are no brake components installed on the chassis at this time. It's $1900.

Prior to that one, I actually sold another one last summer. It had faded, peeling paint, no AC, no cruise control, a nonfunctional rear window, a tank of bad gas and dirt, a blown turbo, leaking gaskets, missing shift knob, no emissions equipment, and a cracked radiator. I fixed everything but the AC and paint, listed for $4000, sold to a kid with a sob story about it being his dream car and how he and his dad wanted to fully restore one for $3000. It was back on Craigslist about six months later for $3500.

Prior to that, I bought the car in question in early winter 2008 for $3000 with no AC, no cruise control, a broken power sunroof, an electrical rats nest behind the radio causing all kinds of trouble. It did, however, come with the original owner's manual, matching badge and keychain.

Hell. I paid $1500 for my 91 with a seized engine back in 2007 and drug it back from eastern New Mexico.

The insurance company will want to see examples of cars sold locally within the past 90 days or so. There haven't been any, so they're going to have to accept that there have only been 10 listed for sale in the SW (CA, AZ, NV, NM, UT) since January and that, outliers removed, these are averaging $4300+. If I'm going to replace the car, I'm going to have to leave the state and pay upwards of $4000.

These cars are on the cusp of being collectibles. New, they retailed for about $25k. I know of at least one that's been appraised at $22k. Getting there!

Last edited by DR1665; 05-26-2010 at 07:50 PM.. Reason: Typo.
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:48 PM
 
Location: PHX, AZ
211 posts, read 638,670 times
Reputation: 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
so are you suggesting that the OP has the equipment, knowledge, expertise and ability that you have to achieve a professional roadworthy and safe restoration of their car?
I've been here before. Front ends are a bit easier to deal with. A little Sawzall is good. A little more Sawzall is better.





Tracks straight and true. Probably more structurally sound today than it was the day it rolled off the boat in 1990. If the roll cage, engine and transmission were in it right now, I'd have no trouble driving it to work while I wait this insurance situation out.
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:06 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
17,113 posts, read 56,733,078 times
Reputation: 18374
You need to find out for certain if the salvage title means you have to jump through some hoops to put the car back on the road, or not.

If you have the dough, it might be worthwhile to lawyer up. It makes the insurance cheats take you more seriously...
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:58 PM
 
Location: Pikesville, MD
5,228 posts, read 15,192,704 times
Reputation: 4846
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
Merc63 ...

so are you suggesting that the OP has the equipment, knowledge, expertise and ability that you have to achieve a professional roadworthy and safe restoration of their car?
The problem is peopel like you assuming than NO ONE CAN and that because YOU'RE too scared to do it, that NO ONE SHOULD.

Quote:
Even with your Porsche 911 example, you note that the $2,000 salvage vehicle took some extensive restoration work, and when done ... with a salvage title history was still only worth thousands less than a unmolested car, which is still worth a lot more than the OP's car. The economics worked for you with your shop and talents, but aren't really favorable for the new owner of the car. They bought a car for a lot less than FMV for a straight one, but that's all it's worth, too.
So effin what? If it cost less, then the "investment" ratio is the same, as is the enjoyment ratio. I've seen it many, MANY times over. Yes, you pay less for the car, and yes it's worth less in teh end, but the buy in makes the reduced value "worth" it to get more car for your money if what you want to do is DRIVE it.
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Old 05-27-2010, 04:30 AM
 
11,550 posts, read 52,918,471 times
Reputation: 16324
Quote:
Originally Posted by Merc63 View Post
The problem is peopel like you assuming than NO ONE CAN and that because YOU'RE too scared to do it, that NO ONE SHOULD.



So effin what? If it cost less, then the "investment" ratio is the same, as is the enjoyment ratio. I've seen it many, MANY times over. Yes, you pay less for the car, and yes it's worth less in teh end, but the buy in makes the reduced value "worth" it to get more car for your money if what you want to do is DRIVE it.
Here you go, making assumptions that are so far out of whack ...

I've got 40 years of restoring 1950's through 1980's MB, BMW, AlfaRomeo, RR, Bentley, and a host of 1920's-late 1950's Euro exotics (HispanoSuiza, Isotta, Delahaye, Buggatti, RR, Voisin, Delage, MB, Lanchester ... cars you've probably only seen at the big dollar concours and auctions) ... and owned my own independent MB/BMW service shop from 1968 through 1999. My professional ability was recognized to the extent that I not only did a large portion of my work for the MB resale dealers in the area, I did recon work for a franchised MB dealer on their used cars because I could fix stuff that the dealership couldn't except to repeatedly replace parts ... but that's a whole 'nother line, getting into remanufacturing weak OE electronics of that era.

I've been associated with a fellow who specialized in bidding/buying all the insurance company MB totals in the Eastern USA for years in the 1970's-1980's... and he was a master of taking several cars to assemble a roadworthy, saleable, vehicle. SL's and SEL's a specialty, he didn't mess around with the lower end models. The cars came to me to sort out the mechanical, electrical, vacuum, climate control, and electronics after he'd gotten done with the frame and body work.

For a number of years in the 1970-80's, the shop next door to mine was a 356 Porsche restoration specialist ... I didn't work on Porsches, it was a niche marketplace in my area. But I did have a hand now and then in assisting in wrecks that make your 911 repair look like child's play. Long before there were those fancy frame tables, he'd built a *** and fixtures for pulling out and straightening the body pans and panels on those cars. He even got around to doing the same for 300SL's, but we only did a couple of those cars as full resto's ... at a time when the market rate was running $250K or so to do that level of work (I did the mechanical and electrical work for him, sub-let) on $20-30K project cars.

So I've got a long track record of doing major resto's on cars ... and not afraid to do it. What that's taught me, too, is that unless somebody has the major equipment, tools, and knowledge to do this type of work ... it's not gonna get done properly even if it "looks good" and still drives down the road.


While your example that metal can be folded and unfolded a bunch of times before it fatigues and totally fails, what you've ignored is that it's only got it's original component structural strength and integrity for the first time it get's damaged. The first time the metal gets pulled straight after a wreck, it's not going to have the original structural integrity the next time. Given that the design of modern cars with crush zone construction depends upon that original integrity to perform ... not some compromised pieces of metal there ... that's the reason why a wrecked modern vehicle, no matter how carefully restored to it's original shape, is worth less than an original straight and undamaged one. In the next accident, the car will not perform as well as it did the first time to protect the occupants ....

I know that I'm not anywhere near enough engineer to assert that a car I've straightened as well as the original will have the same strength and performance. Unlike others in the resto business ....
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