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Smoke Damage: Charred 1988 BMW M3

This is gut-wrenching – the sight of two desirable BMWs, sitting in a driveway covered in soot. Of course, it’s a scene I’m sadly familiar with, as my 1987 BMW 325is lived through a garage fire where it was fortunately spared from becoming a pile of twisted metal – much like this 1988 BMW M3 listed here on Copart. My car didn’t have any long-term damage, so I wonder what has caused this M3 that’s just a car wash away from looking pristine to end up on a salvage site.

The M3 is parked next to what looks like an MTech 2 cabriolet, another limited production BMW of the 1990s. That car also has soot on its trunk, so both vehicles were seemingly in the fire. I do wonder what could cause these cars to be totaled out given their newfound collectibility, and the fact that many enthusiasts could live with a heavy-duty detailing rather than lose the car.

What I mean by that is unless the car is literally burnt by the fire, cleaning out soot from all the nooks and crannies is something a high-grade detailer can handle. It blows my mind to think these cars were protected by traditional insurance plans and not a declared value policy, because if they were, there’s no chance they would have ended up with Copart.

The listing on Copart describes damage as being “Burn” with a value of $130,000. The latter is not correct at all, as prices have cooled on the E30 M3 over the last few years. They are still very desirable, and parting one out can make you a fair amount of money. I hope that’s not the fate for this burn victim, as the damage shown doesn’t look nearly as bad as you’d expect.


  1. Fred W

    This looks like smoke/odor rather than actual burn damage (but I’ll bet the odor is of “Seinfeld” proportions). . An $80 (Ebay) ozone generator placed in the car for 24 hours can undo that. Outside will certainly buff out.

    Like 1
    • Chebby Staff

      Does that get out other previous-owner smells too, like cigarettes, cologne, etc?

      Like 1
  2. Mark

    Why bother set fire to it properly and finish the job.

    Like 8
  3. U.K. Paul 🇬🇧

    I would be blown away if that stench can be removed fully.

    Like 0
  4. Scott 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿


    Like 0
  5. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Unless the entire interior is pulled and cleaned it’s always going to stink of campfire stench. That smell gets into the fibers of everything that’s not metal

    Like 2
  6. Mike

    Wish it had been posted on here before the auction ended 3 days ago.

    Like 3
  7. Dave

    What did it sell for ?

    Like 0
  8. Skippy

    Yes, the car looks reasonable, but Copart is such a marginal outlet for cars…
    And, yes, you will need to remove the interior including the panels and headliner, and remove all of the A/C ductwork to get the smell out….ask me how I know… (anything fabric or padding holds the smell so when you get into the car it will overwhelm you.) This car is not one of the dozens of lipsticked pigs at one of about 50 Copart yards. All the images are from somebody’s driveway. That’s really odd. Copart is the opposite of Barn Find, it is a clearing house for tens of thousands of mostly really crappy cars by a pretty shady company that takes your money BEFORE you bid on a car and then they referr you to a broker who often charges more than the big auction houses charge on a percentage basis. Then they figure out how to charge you for things no reputale place should charge you for (want the keys? That’s extra. Car here for more than a couple of days after the auction? Storage fees. Want a detailed description? Extra charge. Want to send somebody over to inspect the car? If they have to move it, there’s a charge..and they usually have to move it. Want to know what we sold a comparable car for yesterday? Nope, sorry,. we don’t list past sale prices because we want as much of your money as your gullible brain will give us. Estimated value? Wild fiction. Probably double or triple actual value..or more. The list goes on and on and on) If you are going to show us insurance auction cars, please limit it to just the most interesting cars (like this). Those of us who actually buy and restore cars know that Copart is a really awful place to buy anything but parts cars from and is a place no experienced, honest restorer will go anywhere near more than once.

    Like 14

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