I must have been a bad person in a previous life...

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How on earth is that uneconomical to repair? Such an unsustainable system if it's truly uneconomical to do so.
I had a busy garage in the 1970's. I dealt with all the bodywork and my partner did the mechanical repairs. We had a large fleet of recovery trucks to deal with anything on the road. Up to around the mid 1970's we did a significant amount of car/van bodywork. (Didn't have the room to do trucks) I had a Body Jig and used to regularly carry out major repairs to replace everything from the bulkhead forward - chassis rails, inner and outer wings, slam panel, bonnet, valance and grill etc. etc. plus the associated collateral damage to suspension and steering. These were big jobs!

I also did several complete bodyshell changes to MKIII Cortina's, Escorts and a Corsair. I also rebuilt a complete rear end of a Corsair - everything up to the rear doors . Floor pan, inner and out wings etc etc. ALL this was insurance work!

I can clearly remember the day we had an almost new Hillman Hunter with a damaged front wing. I had quoted less than a days work to cut off the wing, replace, respray etc. It was a very quick and easy repair. The insurance assessor arrived, too one look at the car and wrote out a ticket. "Written off! Send us your recovery charges"

I couldn't believe it and argued that it was an extremely economical repair. The chap simply shrugged his shoulders. "Insurance is changing!" was all he could say. A few days later a salvage dealer from miles away arrived to collect the car!

That change happened almost "Overnight" - certainly within a the timespan of a few weeks.

Those changes significantly reduced the 'Bodywork' side of the business and within a year we had sold all the recovery trucks and moved into engine re-manufacturing and engineering.
I have a friend who used to buy write-offs and do proper repairs. Ha was telling me a while ago that scrap yards/dismantlers have killed the repair business as they give silly money for the damaged vehicles.
I think that statement, certainly from my experience is absolutely spot on dead accurate! We gained that impression, too.

Malcolm B.

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