OK, don’t all jump up in surprise! Yes, my somewhat delayed BOTW is finally here, but with the agro I’ve been going through I’m glad to be writing this piece and finally putting it to bed. It all started with another trawl through the ads and this time I was looking for something a little more challenging. Why? I don’t know but I had it in my head that this time around I would put in a lot more heart and soul than my last BOTW challenge, the Peugeot 306 convertible. It wasn’t long before I locked onto the Ford StreetKA, a very desirable, cheap and fun summer run-around. They’re going for a song at the moment but just buying a slightly not so well looked after example wasn’t the idea. I was after a ‘project’. Deep down you know that, like building a kit car, it’s going to have its fair share of problems but at the end when you drive off into the sunset it’ll be worth every penny, even though you’re bound to go over your set budget. So as the hunt became wider I looked into crash repairs and found just 3 StreetKA’s, all with a fender-bender story. Madness prevailed and so it was to be: Buy, fix it up and sell a crash repaired StreetKA.
Depending on the severity of the damage the cheapest example I found was a 2003 SK 1.6i Luxury model, solid red, 2 owners, full Ford service history, fully loaded with heavy frontal damage for just £1,995 albeit with 60,000 miles. But at that price I had to make a phone call to the seller. Considering these 1.6i Luxury SK’s are selling for up to £3,800, even with a grand’s worth of bits, surely a tidy profit was in sight.
So with that in mind I popped over to see the car, haggled a bit and had it recovered back to my house for £1,700 all in. Not much of a discount I know but with a friend of mine on his way over to assess the damage this had to be a win win situation. With fifteen years bodyshop experience I knew I was in safe and honest hands and not having bought a crash damaged car before I thought I had better put a call in for some useful guidance.
It seemed that this particular SK had been involved in a head on collision but luckily both parties walked away without any serious injuries. However the KA had withstood a combined front impact of 90mph, so the damage was quite extensive. On closer inspection the engine seemed to have survived but it was the front end, from the engine forward, that was completely missing including all the motor ancillaries like the water pump, pas pump, radiator, grille, lights etc and the wings and bonnet were all crushed inwards as well.
So a vague list was drawn up and it was taken to my friend’s bodyshop for a closer inspection. Nervously I had to wait for three days as they assessed the damage, and cost. I subsequently received an email with all the parts and costs with paint and labour, plus a nasty hidden surprise I wasn’t expecting. Because of the nature of the damage it seemed that the chassis had been twisted in the accident which required a long process to straighten it up. Other than that I had to fork out on the following:
Front bumper and fitting parts (bumper shocks, fitting bungs etc)
Ford grille plus fitting screws etc
Both headlights and fitting parts
Lower suspension arms and wishbones for both sides
Two front wings
Two new front wheels and tyres, which had been twisted in the impact
Radiator and hoses
Power steering pump and hoses
Both front air bags (as they had employed in the impact)
Seat belt pre-tensioners
OK, so a bit more than I was expecting but the repair bill with parts and labour came in at £1,288.76 plus the chassis straightening at an extra £350. You don’t have to do the maths but I was looking at a total of £3,338.76. This was not exactly ideal if I wanted to sell it on. With a potential sell price of £3,800 a measly profit of £461.24 was the best I could expect.
So plan B was put into action.
I decided to source some of the major parts myself, perhaps through a salvage yard or on the internet. This is where the delay began. Being as StreetKA body panels especially were hard to get hold of. Not your average Fiesta. I did strike lucky with the wheels and tyres, plus the water, power steering pump and oil sump from a stolen, recovered and heavily damaged SK which had been sat around for a while. The owner was willing to sell certain parts and more importantly saved my bacon. This little research saved me a total £340 alone and now I had a better chance of increasing my profit. I did get a set of second-hand headlights which I miraculously found at an auto jumble. They were slightly chipped on the edges and a tad mouldy inside the light cluster but at just £50 for the pair I snapped them up straight away. With two weeks gone and without any of the repair work starting, I desperately searched for more parts.
It seemed I had been defeated and decided to get the rest of the parts from Ford. They were ordered and the work began in earnest. With my savings the repair total bill fell to £2,998.76 and after a frantic two and a half weeks searching for the parts I was feeling somewhat relieved and looking ahead to that profit.
Week three started ahead of schedule and the front end seemed to be coming together. Unfortunately a slight hiccup occurred, shall we say. Two major parts were on back order from Ford and we were looking at a two week lead time. Without these the work would have to be put on hold. Another setback. So we had to grin and bear it and the StreetKA was left in pieces at the back of the bodyshop.
With just over five weeks gone from day one, finally our parts arrived and the SK was put back in the running and slowly started to take shape. It was an intense time as I was expecting another setback or another part that needing ordering but each day passed without any more problems so by week six I had a phone call to say the car was finished and ready to collect. With just under three grand spent so far, I was keen to get it up for sale as soon as possible to redeem some of my money.
With the legal paperwork signed (from the crash damage) and Ultimate Detail working its magic once again, I put the SK in Autotrader for £3,795 and hoped for the best. With six months tax, years’ MOT, legal paperwork, full valet and £20 worth of fuel the total spent came to £3,423.
With just £372 profit it wasn’t the best decision I’d ever made and again I was looking at walking away with a small profit, but when the phone rang and an excited buyer came over I was only looking at the transaction and to put it nicely, getting rid of this headache.
Sure enough, the phone call turned into a sale and the new lady owner didn’t even haggle on the price. Although it was advertised as an ex-crash damaged car that didn’t put her off and a week later she phoned me to say that she was over the moon with her new car. I suppose sometimes you have to expect the pitfalls and walk away knowing that someone else is enjoying the fruits of your labour.
Will I do it again? Oh yes, but next time I think I’ll find a much older car, oh and definitely a bigger profit. I’m not used to working for minimum wage.