By Mike Atwal
3rd October 2019

Why Cat D is not always taboo.

Cat D sounds scary, but in some very specific cases it isn’t, we just have to take a look from a different perspective.

When insurers in the past have deemed a car to be structurally spot on, and airbags were not even on the scene yet to a problem, a hefty repair estimate would make them simply decide it was not worth it financially to fix, and the car in question was labelled as Cat D.

The irony is however that some cars end up in better condition overall after having had a Cat D repair. Let me elaborate by comparing two cars, and for the sake of making my point, each car is assumed to have identical interior and mechanical condition, full service history, two keys, both with one owner from new and have 150k miles on the clock.

Exhibit 1, priced at 12,995 GBP

A red 1989 BMW 635csi Highline that has never been in an accident, however it had one side painted when it was pretty much a new car due to the owner scraping the door against their gate post, but now shows fair wear and tear for a car that is 30 years old including pitting on the front wings, rust around the windscreen and the lower sills of the door, the bonnet is starting to fade and the front bumper is chipped and scuffed, missing two hard to find trim pieces, the headlamps have mildew inside, along with two dents on the kidney grills. And there is lacquer peel on the door painted in 1991. No Cat D around it’s neck though.

Exhibit 2, priced at 6,995 GBP

A red 1989 BMW 635csi Highline that was relegated to the Cat D group in 2006 after needing new chrome kidney grills, front bumper and all four headlamps after a small bump into the car in front. The owner who loves the car dearly decided to source new OEM lamps, a used bumper with all the trim in place and had his local bodyshop do a cracking job painting up the front end of the car, attending to the rust around the windscreen and on the front wings as they go, blending into the doors, mopping and touching up the whole car, and today the paint is still bright and shiny. All good aside from paper Cat D sign that sits around this car’s neck though; hence the value.

Which 635 would you want to turn up to a classic car show or posh hotel with from a visual perspective? And which one doesn’t need any remedial work, or searching for rare trim?

Cat D can cover floods and mechanical damage that deems it undrivable and of course some modern classics have airbags – but my point is that if you come across a Cat D car that suffered bad luck of being damaged, but enjoyed the fortune of a loving caring owner reviving it back to health, maybe it actually could be the gem of them all at a below market price.

Be aware to check insurance quotes first, it might cost a little more in certain cases, and remember it may be slower to sell – but I think the value factor more than makes up for it.

Last week we sold a Cat D Ferrari 328 GTS (pictured above – listing here) before auction for £44,000 – it was subject to paint damage a few years ago (so nothing mechanical / structural). Full pictures of the damage and the repair were made available by the seller, and it was priced to sell. This car was an absolute bargain as it’s one of the best drivers’ examples on the market – our buyer is over the moon with his purchase and saved a good chunk of money too.

Spend less, feel less guilty actually using it.