Bargain of the Week – StreetKa 1.6i Luxury

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
Fog lights
Bumper trim
Slam panel
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
Water pump
Drive belts
Both front air bags (as they had employed in the impact)
Seat belt pre-tensioners
Oil sump
Steering parts

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.

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14 Responses to Bargain of the Week – StreetKa 1.6i Luxury

  1. Ben Boffin August 15, 2009 at 8:16 pm #

    I can’t believe that this is going on in the world, I wonder if you mentioned to the lady that the car had been involved in a 90mph impact and had a twisted chassis when she came to see it? To put someone in a bent car for £300 profit seems sick to me.

  2. Tony Citroen August 16, 2009 at 8:45 am #

    Ben, I think your comment is a bit OTT. According to the article the car was “advertised as an ex-crash damaged car” and clearly had a new MOT. If a car can be repaired safely and professionally then why not? Although I think the writer of this piece is a bit of a mug working minimum wage on a car like this. I’m sure there are easier (and better) ways to turn a profit?

  3. Ben Boffin August 16, 2009 at 1:40 pm #

    Tony I hear what your saying but I don’t agree. This guy messed up when he found out the chassis was bent, we all know cars like this never drive the same after such a heavy impact, yes you can always find an unsuspecting person who knows no different to buy it but surely every responsible motor trade wouldn’t be up for this. We all make buying mistakes and when his mistake became clear this guy should have swallowed his losses got rid of this lemon and moved on to something else, instead he thinks its great to boast that he’s managed to lash together his problem with ‘chipped and mouldy’ componenets and sell it onto someone else. This sort of trading is why the motor trade struggles with its reputation, whats going to happen when she takes it to Ford for a service or when the next Mot is due? Rip off of the the week.

  4. Ken Wilson August 16, 2009 at 2:40 pm #

    From what I can gather this was a private sale. This guy writes occasional articles on this site about a private punter buying and selling cars for (hopefully) a profit. I don’t suppose for one minute that makes polishing a turd in this fashion any more acceptable. I suspect the new owner was happy with a years ticket but, as you say, who knows what next years MOT throws up. I also think he was lucky to get the price he did the buyer should have been able to pick one up for less without the dodgy history. Still he was upfront about the crash damage (or so he says) and of course with it being a private sale there would be zero comeback. Caveat emptor indeed.

  5. Terry Evans August 16, 2009 at 2:43 pm #

    I agree with Ben there’s no good reason to repair such a badly damaged car unless it’s to blatantly profit from someone else’s lack of knowledge. The buyer might be happy with it now but six months down the line, and it’s no better than a clown car, she’ll feel pretty dumb and pretty bitter.

  6. Becky B August 16, 2009 at 5:23 pm #

    Its quite a good reminder to everyone, these idiots are out there buying half a car and making a whole one. Do your homework before rushing into a sale. 90mph!!! poor woman, I do hope she doesn’t do the school run in it.

  7. Mark Robbins August 18, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    Crash damaged cars for profit? EXACTLY the sort of thing that gets this trade a terrible name ! surprised you ran this article MTI and more fool you serman for telling everyone.

    Look in Auto Trader this week, KA Sport for 3,995 with 54,000 miles and F.S.H. AND its not been in a crash, BOTW? not your one thats for sure.

  8. admin August 18, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    Fair point Mark…it’s pehaps maybe stretching the word “bargain” to the absolute limits of it’s definition! But it was a private sale and is certainly an interesting debate. Would I buy one?… where did I put my barge pole…..

  9. Mark Robbins August 18, 2009 at 6:38 pm #

    There are many accident damaged repaired vehicles that are far from unsafe, insurance companies will often write a vehicle off on labour or parts repair costs alone and this in turn sees some very lightly and slightly older cars returned to the road, often with little more than a new bonnet, bumper, maybe a couple of headlights paintwork etc: these are commonly known as Catergory D vehicles, and lets face it, if the roof blew off your house you wouldnt pull it down would you?

    No, the argument here is that when a vehicle has sustained this sort of serious damage especially when we start talking about twisted chassis’s and both airbags deployed, suspension struts etc it is clear this was no minor accident and in turn should NEVER be sold on at a profit no matter how small, not even in the interests of research.

    True, the words “Caveat Emptor” spring to mind, but if we in the industry dont protect the public from such practices, we will never break the cycle of constant distrust that pervades this industry at all levels.

    Its time these sort of damaged vehicles were legislated against, after all would you want your wife or children in such a car?

  10. Ben Boffin August 18, 2009 at 8:47 pm #

    Sorry admin don’t want to sound like a killjoy but these things annoy me! Looking back this guy has been regularly buying cars and selling them on for profit, what part of that isn’t a motor trading? If he’s selling cars ‘privately’ then he is breaking a quite serious misrepresentation law. I note too no mention of Vat being levied on his marginn which would have stripped him of any profit taking into account his recon. Should a site such as this that claims to be ‘your friend’ in the trade be endorsing such activites? One can only assume that if he is a regular insider/contributor he must be on your payroll and yet he displays a totally amateur approach to the business and appears to have no conscience.

    • admin August 18, 2009 at 9:35 pm #

      That’s a fair comment Ben. The writer of these articles is an occasional contributor who does not work directly in the trade. His remit is to write some interesting articles related to the trade from a private buyers perspective. The “bargain of the week” title has always been a bit loosely applied (if you’ve looked back through the articles you’ll know why!) and these articles we usually publish for a bit of fun at the weekend. On reflection it might have been worth bringing the finer details of the work done to the writer’s attention as our publishing of the article looks as if it carries our endorsement of the actions involved. We’re sure that as soon as the writer returns from holiday he will respond to all the comments himself and it will certainly be interesting to hear what he has to say. From MTI’s point of view it is definitely a debate worth having as we all know this goes on whether we like it or not. It has obviously stirred up some passion and we’re grateful for your contribution. MTI

  11. Ben Boffin August 18, 2009 at 9:56 pm #

    Great! Enjoying the fruits of his sinister activities, whilst I’m here late at night trying to work out my Vat. Its not passion MTI just anger and frustration. There is no defence he can give as his told us the full story already, I’m sure he’ll have some old tosh about how good quality the work was and that he only sells the odd car here and there-all stuff we have to listen to but can’t proven. ‘Serman’ should leave this trade well alone. A good site by the way.

  12. Cameron August 21, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    This is such an interesting thread and well done for MTI for having the courage to publish the story! There are many crash repaired cars on our roads many are absolutely fine. There are of course different categories depending on the extent of the damage.
    Cat D is generally light damage whereas the opposite is a Cat A which means that the car has to be crushed by law-not even any components can be used. Cat D and C are generally repairable and most of them are, the difficulty comes when the isurers get the Category wrong. Its very difficult for the assessor on some cars that have sustained major damage to ascertain the extent of damage. Sometimes without stripping down its difficult to see hidden damage as has been demonstrated on the above story. So there are many vehicles that have been categorised by the insurers as Cat C or D when really they should have been Cat B (unrepairable) or worse Cat A (for the crusher only). This is one of the main risks of buying crash repaired cars.
    My advice is unless you know the extent of the damage sustained, don’t buy one. The best way to buy one of these cars is a Cat D, buy it damaged and get your own garage to repair.
    As Ben rightly points out a car such as a StreetKa which was flimsy when new, will never be the same after a 90mph terminal speed impact. Barge pole indeed!!

  13. Mark Robbins August 23, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    Probably the worst thing Serman could, and indeed did say, was “He would do it again” but this time for a bigger profit !!!

    No wonder there are sparks flying and so much viterol about this article, (although it makes for good reading!) a simple, “wont be doing that again” would have gone some way to appease his readers.

    Just a thought.

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