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From digest.v4.n677 Mon Jun 3 16:37:51 1996
From: "Rick Kjeldsen" <>
Date: Mon, 03 Jun 1996 17:59:43 -0400
Subject: Re: BENT unibody - need advice.

>Has anyone had major unibody damage to to your E30 requiring straightening
>on a body machine? I'm curious as to how it all turned out. Right now I'm
>trying to seperate my attachment to the car from what really makes sense in
>the long run.

It's definitly possible to fix a totaled car and have it nearly as good as new. It takes a good body shop, money and lots of time. I rolled my 'es in '91, and ended up putting on a rear clip. 60k miles later I still drive the car hard (on the track and off). It aligns perfect, handles better than ever and it looks like it was never damaged - no matter how close you look.

In fact there are quite a few benifits from doing it. You get a new paint job (a good thing assuming they use top-of-the-line paint and a good paint booth) You can fix some of the problems of old age (that side window that had a scratch, that plastic bumper guard that was getting sun-rotten). You will become an expert on the inner workings of an E30.


There are lots of ways things can go wrong. The body shop can try to pass off inferior work. They can make an honest mistake (they mis-measured my car when welding on the rear clip, so it is ever so slightly twisted). If you order used parts, they will usually be in worse shape than they were represented to be. There will be little parts you will have a hell of a time finding. It will certainly take you longer and cost more than you expect.

The car will never be QUITE the same. If you are vigilant, the problems will be few and minor, but you will definitly have some. The clip will probably not have been cared for as well as your car, so it may start to rust somewhere. You will forget to replace a bolt hidden behind the dash, so will have a rattle you can never fix. The slight twist in the body will cause one door to close hard. The seams will never line up quite as well as they once did. Noone but yourself (not even the pros) may notice, but still... Only your time and attention will keep these to a minimum (the body shop is always under time preasure, so you can't count on them to be as picky as you will be). To get some details right, you will have to do them yourself. The shop can't be bothered to fiddle with your central locking for an hour to find the cut wire that keeps the trunk from locking.

As far as your particular questions:

>So I want to know if anyone has been happy with the results of straighening
>a car?

Sure. A careful job can leave the car as straight and strong as it ever was - but there is a bell curve. Some cars end up perfect. Most end up so good you will never know the difference. Some end up with noticable problems.

> Would I ever be able to sell it later?

Definitly. The real question is whether you will need to drop the price to sell it. If the repair is done well, I don't think you will have any trouble. Our cars are getting old enough so that buyers arn't as picky as for newer cars. The history will no doubt turn off some buyers, but not most. I know I could find a buyer for my car (I've had offers), but I'm not selling.

> Can the alignment/tracking every be right?

Definitly. The tools and techniques exist to make it better than new. The trick is to find someone who knows how to do it, and cares enough to do it right - EVERY body shop claims they do good work, most customers don't know good work from bad, so it's tough to find the really good ones. Expect to pay for their skills.

I do not regret having restored my car. I learned a hell of alot about E30s, and the car is a greater source of pride for me than it ever was, since it is on the road (and working/looking so good) only because of my efforts.
But I don't think I'd do it again. Once is enough.

If you need to know any particulars or have any questions, let me know.

good luck,
'87 325es - KIA in '91

  • reborn in '92
  • still strong and healthy in '96
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