For the determined and mechanically minded, buying damaged repairable cars to fix up and either sell-on or keep, has traditionally meant many an hour sifting through scrap yards.
The internet, thankfully, has made the process significantly easier, whether you are looking for a damaged repairable car, a wing mirror - or salvage with front end damage. In most cases your local breaker/car dismantler will list online what damaged repairable vehicles they have and what categories these fall under (abandoned, written off, stolen and recovered etc).
eBay is also a fantastic place to find damaged repairable cars for sale.
The internet makes a big difference when buying damaged cars, but this is still the used car industry, and when you have narrowed down the search using the web you will have to make sure that the scrappers’ records are 100%; it is vital that you confirm what the salvage yard or seller claims. This is not wishing to cast aspersions on the salvage industry, it is often simply an easily made clerical error that sees an unregistered vehicle being marked down as registered, or a convoluted past that makes it difficult for the yard to verify the complete history.
So thoroughly check the car history yourself before you buy. You would be surprised how often a salvage yard is unsure of a car’s history - and a mistake here can make a big difference when you are looking at price repairs (and therefore working out the profit) if you want to sell on. So whatever the status that the breakers have given the vehicle, check; and if the salvage yard says it’s an unrecorded vehicle, confirm. Otherwise you could be paying a premium for what is supposed to be an unrecorded car only to find it is actually recorded. The same advice applies when buying from a private seller.
Incidentally some categories of damaged repairable cars require a formal assessment (VIC - Vehicle Identity Check) before they can be driven again; so that is also something you will need to be aware of. It’s not a legal minefield - you just have to be thorough.
When a car is salvaged it is assigned a category according to the damage it has sustained. The breaker/car dismantler should assign this salvage category to the car.
Category C - when the vehicle is damaged to the extent that the cost of repair exceeds its value on the road. All category C vehicles are subject to a VIC before they can be legally driven again so you will not receive a V5 document. You will have to either get a VIC or fill out the appropriate paperwork to get a new V5.
Category D - when the car has been written off by the insurers, for a number of possible reasons, even though the car’s repair costs amount to less than the vehicle’s value on the road. These vehicles are excellent for repair and resale - and the damage can sometimes be minimal.
Category E - when a stolen vehicle has been recovered it is assigned to this category.
Category X - when a vehicle is not recorded on the HPI register as being damaged, or when it has only minimal or cosmetic damage.