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2016 BMW i8 For $35,000: Scam or Score?

published 2021-08-16
by Jimmy Hood

Salvage cars can be an incredible deal when found in good condition. In some states, cars are written off as total losses even when damage is simply superficial but expensive compared to the value of the vehicle. Those cases give hope to the many who want a specific vehicle but lack the funds to buy one with a clean title. They often rely on inferior VIN reports that simply note that there was damage but leave the details out. Such was the case of a person who bought what is very likely the absolute worst-case scenario when it comes to a salvage vehicle.

The 2016 BMW i8 is the flagship of the eco-friendly BMW i brand. The i8 is perhaps the perfect blend of historic design cues from the 1980s M1 and future tech seamlessly blended into one package. It uses an eco-friendly hybrid powertrain to propel it to 60mph in just 4.6 seconds and onto a top speed of 155 mph. Combining these features and gorgeous design cues it’s easy to see why someone might be willing to take a gamble on a salvage branded car. Let’s take a trip through the life of an i8 that should’ve been out of its misery long before someone else spent more than $35,000 on it. It’s so bad that practically every exterior panel had to be replaced.

The Car Is Originally Damaged In The Rear

In June of 2017, the car was damaged in an accident and is written off by the insurance company. Taking a look at the photos only BADVIN provides, it’s easy to see what happened. We can clearly see the entire rear section has been just destroyed. The glass is nowhere to be found, the rear bumper is absent, and the damage has even affected the driver tail light and b-pillar. 

While the front of the i8 looks to be in good shape it’s important to remember that it’s the rear that serves as the most vital part of the structure of the vehicle. That means that even though we can’t see any superficial damage to the front, there could very easily be bends and breaks beneath the sheet metal.

Regardless of the major damage and potential for issues, the car is sold for $49,750 with what is reported as $81,120 worth of damage to repair on it. At the time it’s estimated that this is just 55% of the overall value of the i8 which is precisely why someone was willing to try and salvage it. Nevertheless, it’s not long before it’s back at the auction house. 

It’s also interesting to note the mileage is recorded as 23,692 and the VIN plate in the door sill holds an important detail. Take a close look at the color surrounding the plate itself. It’s a paint color called “Protonic Blue” and it’s underneath the red wrap that you see on this i8. That wrap comes off before the next accident in this car's history. Those small details are vital as we charge into the rest of the story and you can only get them with the high-quality VIN reports that BADVIN provides. 

The Second Accident Should’ve Sealed This BMWs Fate

Nearly a full year later in March of 2018, the i8 is in another crash. The entire front of the car seems to have been in a demolition derby. The hood is set on the car seemingly as decoration since in a later shot we see it’s not attached whatsoever. Both headlights are long since departed as are the front apron and bumper. 

At this stage in the history of this vehicle, it’s lost almost every panel on the rear of the vehicle and now it’s lost almost every panel on the front of the vehicle. The driver-side airbag has deployed, the rear-view mirror is hanging by a thread and the damage doesn’t stop there. This is where the beauty of BADVIN photographic evidence shines brightest though. 

Take a gander at the rear driver tire. It’s kicked out like this i8 had a “Crabwalk” feature long before the new Hummer EV did. The rear rocker panel has some damage too so despite this simply looking like a BMW that rammed into a brick wall, clearly, it’s damaged well beyond that. 

At this stage in the life of this once glorious sports coupe, it should’ve been all over. No accounting for how many miles are on the vehicle is one thing but knowing that the rear deck, rear driver tail light, bumper, suspension, front bumper, hood, both front fenders, front apron, and suspension have all needed major work or full-on replacement should’ve signed this cars death warrant. Somehow though it’s snatched up by another person perhaps trying to turn a quick profit, this time for a meager $21,150. For a car estimated to be valued at $91,000 at the time, it might sound like a bargain to those who didn’t know what it had looked like before. 

Someone Paid $35,250 For This Heap Of Replacement Parts

Just 2 months after the previous crash decimated the front and rear driver side of the vehicle, someone had repaired the rear suspension and installed all new parts on the front of the vehicle. It’s kind of shocking just how shoddily this repair job was. Look at how mismatched the hood and headlights are. They don’t fit well whatsoever. The driver-side airbag isn’t repaired or replaced, it’s literally shoved back into the hole where once it came. 

The dash is working again though and it says this i8 only has 264 miles on the odometer. Now, the auction lists the mileage as “Not Actual” and that’s good of them but imagine you’ve been pining away for an i8 and you find this one. It appears to have just the damage to the front clip and what might be extremely low mileage. This can be so tempting to those who love these types of cars. Perhaps a person has budgeted for a $50,000-$55,000 car and this i8 comes across their desk with what it says is $22,000 in repairs needed. Clearly, someone thought that they were getting a good deal because they dropped $35,250 on this i8 that wouldn’t even start at the time of the sale. 

At BADVIN we know that our customers want the best they can get. It’s possible to get a good deal on a salvage car, there’s no doubt of that, but this is the worst-case scenario that we want to protect our buyers from. Thanks to the extensive photographic history we provide we can be sure that no BADVIN customer was suckered into paying such a wild and ridiculous price for this sad excuse for a BMW that should’ve never been back on the roads after its second accident.

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Jimmy Hood
Jimmy Hood
This is our senior data scientist. Jimmy works with market data 24/7. He teaches our AI system to spot the patterns and weird behaviors to provide you the most useful insights.
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