Crash... bang... wallop... your pride and joy restyled in a somewhat abstract manner. All too easily the insurance company utter the magic words 'Write Off' and what looked like minor frontal damage has consigned your car to the TVR graveyard. Off you trot to the dealer, cheque in hand for a replacement.
Weeks later someone spots your car being sold for salvage. Heads shake... muttering... "Dodgy... they can't repair that... don't they know what happened to it...?"
A few months pass and the car is back on the road. More mutterings, "Don't go near it... crash repaired... dangerous..."
Well is dangerous? Is it less of a TVR than an original?
After many years of horror stories of 'cut and shut' cars and back street garages performing dangerous repairs, the DVLA got together with the police, the insurance companies and the database companies such as HPI and set out to clean up the salvage business. Insurers now have a code of practice to ensure that dangerous write offs do not reappear on the road.
So what exactly is a write off? Well in the strictest sense of the word, it's a car that will cost more to repair than it's worth. However, that doesn't mean that the remains are worthless. When an insurer inspects a car, he now categories the wreck as follows. (click on the image to enlarge it)
Having categorised a car, the insurers now have to record their decisions every step of the way. This is where the 'Register' comes into effect. Known in the business as MIAFTR, the Motor Insurers Anti Fraud & Theft Register is used to provide an audit trail for every car in the country. It's from this register that companies such as HPI and Equifax draw their information.
Category A and B vehicles should never reappear on the road. However there are legitimate routes back to the road for more unusual vehicles such as TVRs. It's easy to bend a chassis and to be classed as a category B car, however with a new chassis and repaired GRP bodywork, is it a new car or is it a repaired car?
The DVLA operate a points system to determine if a car can retain its original registration and history or whether it will be classed as a new car. If a car has retained enough of its original components - engine, steering, chassis, transmission etc. - then it will keep the same identity. If not then the mysterious Q plate is issued instead.
So what is the score with a salvaged TVR? Well curiously enough a rebuilt TVR could be considered safer than a rebuilt Eurobox. Repairing a monocoque chassis could well not restore the full strength into the whole unit. The car when placed under stress might exhibit different characteristics to those in an original.
However, rebuilding a TVR if done properly gives you a car that's as good as new. A new chassis is normally a prerequisite, as repairing the space frame is not recommended. Chassis come back from the TVR factory with the wheels, steering etc. in place ensuring that the geometry is set up correctly. Bolt on a body that's been pasted back together using the same techniques as are used to build the shells in the first place, and you have yourself a car which is literally as good, and as safe, as new.
So don't be scared of rebuilt cars. If you do your homework and ensure the documentation verifies the important facts like where the chassis has been sourced from, you could find yourself a very good value car. Or how about the luxury of a track day car rebuilt to your specifications...?