Meet the mechanic saving rare BMW 1Ms from the crusher

No sports car in recent memory has had quite the impact of the BMW 1M, a 340-hp terror that BMW limited to just 740 copies in the United States and a few thousand worldwide. It will surprise no one that several U.S. BMW 1M owners have felt a different kind of impact -- from having their $47,000 cars towed to the insurance wrecking lot after crashes. But that misery has been magic for a Queens bodyshop owner, who's rebuilt four totaled 1Ms so far -- including the last one sold in America.

Andy Petaludis has been repairing and rebuilding BMWs and other cars for 25 years, and a few years back took his expertise in German machinery to his Kos-Tom Collision. Browsing the insurance auctions where wrecks are sold for parts a few months ago, Petaludis came across a totaled 1M in its trademark Valencia Orange. "It was love at first site," he wrote on the 1Addicts forum. After repairing the car -- including shipping parts from Germany -- "I've become totally hooked on the little 1M. I've owned and driven a lot of BMW's but nothing like this car. Needless to say I promised myself that if any other 1Ms popped up for sale again at auction I would try to buy them."

Within a few months, Petaludis was able to find three other crashed 1Ms, a high body count for a car that sold just 740 copies nationwide. And despite damage as severe as a full roll-over requiring a new roof, none of the wrecks had managed to bend a 1M's frame -- making it possible for Petaludis to craft a near-factory 1M from other people's wrecks. That doesn't mean just anyone could do it: this fix for an Alpine White model required an entire front-end assembly replacement and taking the engine out just to have a better workspace.

Petaludis plans to eventually sell his repairs, and since all of the cars were totaled, they will all have to come with a New York salvage title. That legal stamp would doom most modern cars to the recycler, but because the 1M was so rare and so sought after, Petaludis should have no problems selling them to owners who want the coolest car at the local track day.

Photos courtesy Andy Petaludis

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