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A busted M3. An invoice for repairs. A decision to take. The end?

By on 28 October 2011 in Cars

A busted M3. An invoice for repairs. A decision to take. The end?
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Earlier this week we recounted how poor little Straight-Six crashed his M3 at Spa-Francorchamps during a rather wet track day. The question on his mind was this: could the damage be fixed, and at what cost? Read on to find out how it all ended.

The ride back from the track was abominable for Six, not helped one bit by the sheer cacaphony within the Lotus Exige Cup 260. That damned car simply doesn’t know how to shut up and liberate a little space and quiet for its occupants and their thoughts about whether the banged up M3 could be fixed. And if so, at what cost?

In this dark space was shone the light of BMW Brussels – Evere, whose level of empathy, assistance and good ol’ fashioned customer service was exceptional. They received the car the morning after the crash and had a rough estimate of the damage and associated costs within 24 hours.

Another morbid trip by car followed, as Six began to mentally break down his financial line in the sand beyond which he would not repair the car, but instead sell it.

By some strange coincidence, the manager of a car cleaning firm Six used many years beforehand was pulling out of the BMW garage as Six slowly walked into the bodywork area, where his M3 lay crippled. Greetings were exchanged and the chap told Six he’d not only recognised the car, but had been given the estimate for the repairs. He was politely, but firmly, told to keep the estimate to himself as Six wanted to hear it straight from BMW’s mouth. The good man smiled, then whistled through his teeth. “It’s going to be damned expensive, my friend,” he said softly, before waving good-bye.

It took another 10 minutes for the chassis manager to walk over. This man deserved a medal for the empathy and professionalism he had shown Six until that moment. But once he’d shared the repair estimate, would he perhaps be more deserving of a punch in the mouth…?

Moment of truth.

The sales manager looked Six in the eyes in front of his M3 and told him the parts alone would cost 10,000 euros. Without labour and VAT. But more problematic was the other consequence of the crash: the chassis had been bent, resulting in the left rear panel crumpling due to the channeling of the front impact.


Repairing the chassis damage to the level required by BMW and Six was an unknown. All in, the total repair invoice was estimated to come very close to 20,000 euros, or more than the value of the car.


It’s over. Isn’t it? It’s finally all over after eight years together…

Now, thanks to the input of a coupla lovely souls on Twitter (big love to Anders and Nancy) and some knowledge of his own, Six knew it could be done for cheaper amongst independents. But the chassis work had to be done by top-notch pros, and that wouldn’t come cheap. In other words, it appeared to be clear that it would still likely cost northwards of 10,000 euros even using second-hand parts, etc.

Six was told to take his time and consider the options, but he decided then and there to put the M3 up for sale as is. The repair costs were too high and he wasn’t the type who could live comfortably with this kind of repaired damage even if he could afford it. It was over.

What followed happened so incredibly quickly it made Six’s head spin. Within 12 hours of his having put an ad online he had been contacted by a bunch of low-balling dealers and part-ex droogs all of whom he politely placed on the back-burner. Just in case.

But it was six missed calls from a Dutch number upon arrival in Rome for a business trip that caught Six’s attention. A man by the name of Jacob was on the other end; keen, personable and a dedicated M-enthusiast who had owned a crash-repaired E39 M5, he had been looking for an M3 to fix up with his father.

The call with Jacob took place on a Monday and on Tuesday morning he had traveled down to Brussels to see the car and made an offer. An honest offer that Six accepted after a delightful talk of 15 minutes about the history of the car, how Six had looked after it and what Jacob intended to do with it.

Under these kind of conditions it came across as karma to Six that an enthusiast who wanted to revive the M3 and cherish it as he had would buy the car. Friday saw Six and Jacob finally meet, exchange papers and sew up the deal. It wasn’t easy for Six, pouring over all the history and paperwork of the car on its crumpled boot. Not easy at all to remember how much he had poured into Munich’s finest.

It ends, and it begins.

The E46 M3 was arguably the most complete and finest all-round sports-car car Six will ever own. And while he contemplated his move to even purer, lighter forms of driving, he shed a tear of gratitude and a tear of respect for his M3. But they were eventually outdone by an ever-broadening smile.


The M3 will live again. True legends never die.


A busted M3. An invoice for repairs. A decision to take. The end?

With one very sick-looking M3 following a respectable crash at Spa’s Eau Rouge, Six faces the invoice for repairs and a decision to go ahead or stop…right…there.

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Straight-Six had a proper job as a journalist for Dow Jones before lowering himself gently into the warm, forgiving waters of The Guide. He’s our resident fanatic: he relished detailing his BMW M3 for two full days at a time before crashing it at Eau Rouge in the wet; he spends insane amounts on his home-cinema system and has thrown tens of thousands of euros at vintage Rolex sports watches. The little fool simply does not understand the concept of restraint or the meaning of excess. He also – following a legendary "heavy" lunch – once nibbled (yes, like little dogs do) a dear lady friend of ours.

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  • Ian Skellern

    Well at least that sad story has finished with a (relatively) happy ending. The big question now of course is, what’s next for Six?

    And more importantly, might Straight Six be known in future as Flat Four or V Eight?

    • Straight-Six

      Good God! I may need to change my handle…!

      Will have to choose next ride carefully. But increasingly drawn to Lotus.

  • The Prodigal Fool

    Cars. Fragile little things really.

  • Matthew

    A truly sad sad day. I weep for you my friend.

    But enough of the weeping….. which Lotus…..

    I remember many moons ago you considered (albeit briefly) an Elise…. then went for the M3. It’s funny how life goes full circle.

    Good luck, and keep us all posted.

    • Straight-Six

      Thanks, Matt. A very expensive but fun-filled and exciting full circle indeed.

      Am currently looking at the Elise SC and Exige S with PP. But to be honest, I will take some time before getting my svelte derriere into one.

      Take care, my friend, and you and the rest will be the first to know once I am ready to take the plunge…

  • Jack

    I know it will truly be a sad day when I have to put down my E39.

    Hang in here brother….


    • Straight-Six

      Thanks, Jack!

      And give that E39 of yours a big hug tonight. Simply because you never know…:)

  • A Morgan

    Good luck with the hunt for a new car! Give the VX220 some consideration… some serious bargains to be had on those little plastic cars

    • Straight-Six

      A good suggestion and indeed one I had been considering.

      Trouble is the pedigree/branding: it’s badged an Opel over here on the Continent. Gulp….

  • matthew

    ” if I were really looking for a 4-door replacement to my trusty E46 M3, well, the Caddy would be my first test-drive.”

    he he he! Gues who said that?

    • Straight-Six

      Oh, that delicious Caddy CTS-V!!

      Need to time to lick my wounds and, uh, build up a cash pile!

  • Pascal Ravessoud

    Am sad for you.

    Owned both a E46 M3 and an Elise 111S.

    I am a (big) BMW fan, but taking in consideration the rules and regulations (and budget…) of today, if I would have to go for a sports car right now, I think I would go for an Elise again.

    Elise is true and pure fun, and it is fun in town exiting a roundabout as well as going on a track. It is what comes closer to a race car under £40k.

    Just my 2 cents…

  • nick

    It’s sad that good cars are worthless once even slightly broken. I have just waved goodbye to a perfectly good SAAB 9000 CDT, a motor of amazing build quality and reliability, because the head gasket has now gone. Labour, parts and head skimming take it up to around £1000 to fix. And on a 1989 car one has to consider what might go next, and so good money could go after bad. I got £150 from the scrap man.