Motoramic

From Vettes to Herbie, classic cars drowned by Hurricane Sandy wash up in salvage

Justin Hyde
Motoramic

Insurance adjusters are still filling out their spreadsheets in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's attack of the East Coast, but already the toll of damaged vehicles has hit 230,000 cars and trucks, with 190,00 of those in New York and New Jersey, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Some of those totaled by flood waters have washed into the insurance salvage yards -- including several bona fide classics like this 1966 Chevrolet Corvette.

While the 230,000-vehicle figure includes everything from chipped paint to burned vehicles, anything submerged in water will likely be declared a total loss -- as it should be. In modern cars, there's no way to fix all the damage from a dunking short of a complete tear-down, and even then the cost of repairing a vehicle's electronics and interior can quickly reach beyond the value of the car. That doesn't stop more unscrupulous dealers from attempting to wash flood damage off a title, but the cars and trucks in Copart and other insurance salvage yards are so far gone there's usually no chance of revival.

And yet, there's still some value in cars like this Vette. A pristine copy of a '66 with a 427 cu. in. V-8 and 4-speed manual can go for $80,000; this one appears far less perfect, but was still valued by the insurance company at $41,000. Bidding has reached $13,000 -- proving that a few people think there could be enough to pick and pull from its rustproof fiberglass body to make a buck.

Other unfortunate Sandy refugees in the New York Copart lots include a 1954 Lincoln Continental, a couple of Ford hot-rods and this VW Beetle in Herbie racing trim that, while rusted in spots, sports little other signs of water damage. Buying cars in insurance salvage auctions isn't for the amateur, but Herbie's already hit a bid of $1,800 -- a figure that's of little solace to whomever lost it to the rising tide.

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