Rebuilding A Cat N Write-Off

Picture of By Rob Harvey
By Rob Harvey

Marketing Manager

A collaboration between eBay and the charity Mission Motorsport is taking a 2016 Subaru BRZ, which was previously a Category N (CAT N) vehicle due to crash damage, and bringing it back to life. To make things more interesting, it’s being done entirely with parts purchased through eBay’s Assured Fit, Certified Recycled Parts, and My Garage services. The project aims to highlight not only the range of products available on eBay but also their affordability.

Mission Motorsport’s work on the BRZ involves veterans and former service personnel, providing them with hands-on experience and career opportunities in the automotive world. Once the car is fully rebuilt, the plan is to transform it into a race-ready vehicle compliant with MSUK specs. It will then compete in the Race of Remembrance at Anglesey in November, marking the 10th anniversary of the fundraising event. During the race, the team managing the car – from drivers to pit crew – will consist mostly of individuals who use wheelchairs or have significant lower limb injuries.

Mark White, Operations Manager at Mission Motorsport, said: “We knew from its eBay listing that our Subaru had sustained front and rear damage, but it wasn’t until we got our hands on the BRZ that we could completely understand the scale of our challenge facing our former services personnel. We’ve sourced replacement light clusters, body panels, suspension components and even a seat using eBay Assured Fit, perfectly showcasing the breadth and scale of choice available to motorists through the online marketplace.

For those unfamiliar, a CAT N classification indicates that a vehicle has been in an accident but hasn’t suffered any structural damage. Among the four damage categories (A, B, S, and N), CAT N is considered the least severe.

eBay’s research, conducted through a Freedom of Information request, reveals that 186,423 cars and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) were categorized as CAT N in 2023. This figure is slightly lower than in 2022 (186,999) and significantly less than the pre-pandemic numbers of 195,938 in 2019. During the pandemic, numbers dropped even further, with 156,071 in 2021 and 142,524 in 2020, largely due to reduced traffic and fewer accidents.

Despite these numbers, more than 80% of UK motorists don’t fully understand what CAT N means. However, once informed, 26% would consider purchasing a CAT N vehicle, provided there are significant savings – with 28% saying they’d only buy if the price was at least 30% below market value. A CAT N classification means the insurer deemed repair costs to exceed the vehicle’s total value, even though it can be made safe and roadworthy again. Vehicles marked as CAT N often sell for less, even after repairs. Interestingly, 42% of the 2,000 surveyed motorists said they’d feel safe buying a repaired CAT N vehicle.

For those choosing to buy and repair a CAT N vehicle, eBay’s Assured Fit makes sure they find the right parts using vehicle registration data. The Certified Recycled program offers OEM quality parts from end-of-life vehicles, providing cost savings and extending the lifecycle of these parts.

Laura Richards, Category Lead at eBay car parts and accessories, said: “Consumers are seemingly unaware of insurance write-off categories and what they really mean. With some fixes to get them back on the road being relatively straight forward, the parts motorists might need are easy to find through eBay using the My Garage function. Meanwhile our Certified Recycled programme provides quality assured reclaimed parts at even more affordable prices.”

eBay’s study also highlighted the most common cars classified as CAT N write-offs in 2023. The Ford Focus topped the list with 7,217 cases, followed by the Ford Fiesta (6,422), Vauxhall Astra (6,363), Volkswagen Golf (6,123), and BMW 3 Series (5,283). Classic British cars like the Lotus Esprit, Ford Anglia, Jaguar XJS, Morris Minor, and Triumph Spitfire were also among the CAT N vehicles last year. Surprisingly, high-end models like the Ferrari California, Aston Martin Vantages, and Porsche 911 Targas also made the list.

Motorists can also purchase directly from OEMs like Ford, Toyota, Lexus, BMW, MINI, Jaguar Classic, and Land Rover Classic through official eBay stores too. This means you can have the confidence of a genuine part for a much better price.

To demonstrate this, eBay compared the prices of Certified Recycled Parts to new ones. For example, a rear bumper for a Ford Focus could save motorists £242.84, and a Vauxhall Astra boot lid could save up to £609.43 by opting for a Certified Recycled Part.

It will be interesting to see if the project is successful and if everything needed to bring the car back to life can be found on eBay alone.

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