Want to Rebuild a Wrecked Exotic? Here’s How to Start

Buying a wrecked exotic car can be the ultimate project car, but the world of exotic cars can be stressful, expensive, and most of all, intimidating. Besides all of the downsides, buying a wrecked exotic car is a great way to find an affordable version of some really cool and exciting cars without costing an arm, a leg, and, in some cases, half of a mortgage. If you’re interested in the world of wrecked exotic cars and supercars but don’t know how to get started, these tips might just give you the confidence boost you need to start looking.

Start looking for wrecked exotic cars — the best time to buy is when you find the best deal

A wrecked Lamborghini after a crash
A badly damaged Lamborghini | STR, AFP, Getty Images

One of the biggest questions I am asked — and you can see from watching many famous exotic car buyers and wrecked car buyers on YouTube is when we made the decision to buy a wrecked exotic car. The biggest trick is patience, and when you’re talking about buying something exciting like a McLaren 12C or a Lotus Evora, sometimes that can be hard. It doesn’t seem like there are many of these cars on the market, even if you’re looking at wrecked or sketchy-history holding vehicles, but the worst thing you can do is buy a wrecked car out of fear of missing it.

Wait for the right kind of damage

a wrecked exotic car wrecked ferrari
A damaged Ferrari after collision with a Lamborghini | Feature China, Barcroft Media, Getty Images

Instead, watching the market for certain cars, especially for wrecked exotics, is a form of staying educated on what the cars should go for at certain levels of damage. For example, in the summer of 2021, you can expect to find a wrecked BMW i8 at auctions like Copart, which specializes in wrecked vehicles, for around $25,000 – $30,000. When we purchased our wrecked BMW i8 for $26,000, it had minor cosmetic damage, but mostly suspension problems, and, like any other modern BMW that gets into an accident in which the airbags deploy, the system had been shut down as a safety fail-safe.

For us, suspension issues and minor bodywork weren’t a big deal, and my husband, an electrical engineer, was confident in his ability to resolve any issues with the hybrid drivetrain. On the contrary, looking at many of the wrecked BMW i8 at auction this summer, they are going for the same price with significantly more damage — this has a lot to do with the current market for all used vehicles right now and wrecked exotic cars are no exception to it. Because we were more familiar with the market from years of watching it, we were able to recognize that these prices were abnormally high for the amount of damage to the vehicle and decided to wait until the prices began to decrease once again.

What do you do once you’ve found your dream wrecked exotic car?

If you’ve already purchased your dream-wrecked exotic car — congratulations! If you’ve just recently found one at auction and you don’t have a dealer’s license, chances are you will spend a few hundred dollars extra to pay for a broker. Once the car is in your garage or tucked away at your mechanic’s shop, the real adventure of rebuilding wrecked exotic cars begins. The instructions from here are rather easy to start but can get more complicated, expensive, and time-consuming depending on the extent and type of damage to the vehicle.

  • Assess the damage to the greatest detail possible — often times you may find more problems arise as the rebuilding process begins, but to start, it’s best to get an overall idea of how much work needs to be accomplished
  • Start pricing out parts — this is one of the least fun aspects (spending more money) but my recommendation here is to cross-reference part numbers, and check auction sites like Ebay. You will find many exotic cars share some parts with more common vehicles from the same parent company, and while that isn’t always the case, it can save you money, and even time, when trying to replace parts. If you can’t find them there, there next step is…
  • Sign up for online forums — I cannot stress the amount of help that is presented in the forum community of exotic car owners. You can find everything from parts for sale, to advice on common problems the car may have. This is also a great place to ask questions, and you may even find another owner who has rebuilt the same exotic car and can offer advice or direction
  • Assess value, and then keep it in mind — for the most part (with the exception being rare collector cars like Lotus) cars with branded titles are worth less than the clean-titled counterpart.

In the past several years, with the help of social media and platforms like YouTube, buying and fixing wrecked exotic cars has become a hot topic, certainly stirring the interest of more and more potential hobbyists. It doesn’t take a YouTube sensation to put in the wrench hours to build the car of your dreams, either, and you might be surprised by what you can actually manage in the world of rebuilding wrecked exotic cars.

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