Late last month, Hurricane Ian wrecked havoc across Florida, with the death toll climbing over 100 and the damage rising to billions of dollars. Before vanishing, the storm also hit North and South Carolina, and while it had weakened, this was still destructive. Now, as many as 358,000 vehicles were potentially flooded or damaged by Hurricane Ian, according to a Carfax estimate released yesterday. And some of those machines have already landed on the Copart auction website, with these including regular cars and exotics alike.
To answer the obvious question, none of the high-profile vehicles ruined by the storm have hit the online auction platform. So, for the time being, there’s no McLaren P1 or Koenigsegg Regera in sight.
However, with the Copart website search feature grouping the flooded vehicles for the “all ian vehicles” query, there were 551 machines available at the time of press, with many of them being sold by insurance companies Geico and USAA. Copart regularly updates that list, which has grown to thousands of vehicles after this article was published.
Here are the high-profile toys
And about 10 of these cars are exotics, at least judging by the auction specialist’s definition of the term—these standout cars can be found at multiple locations, including Florida’s Punta Gorda South, West Palm Beach, Orlando North and others.
The machines that caught our eye include a 2022 Bentley Bentayga V8, a 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S (the car in the article’s title, which we’ll get back to), a 2018 Lexus LC 500, a 2017 Tesla Model S, a 2017 Dodge Challenger R/T, a 2005 E46 BMW M3, a 2003 Honda S2000, a 2005 Cadillac XLR, a 2006 Chrysler 300C SRT-8 and others. Hey, a 2010 Harley-Davidson FLTRX seems to be the only bike listed to date.
As a quick recap on the insurance matter, the owner of the McLaren P1 has reportedly confirmed that his unnamed insurance company hasn’t offered him the possibility to keep the totaled car. For the record, when the value of the repair goes past,say, 70% of a vehicle’s estimated market value (for a market value insurance, not an agreed value policy), the car is declared a total loss.
Instead, as car collector and YouTuber Ed Bolian of VIN Wiki stated after talking with the P1 owner, all the insurance companies he’s heard about have declared the Hurricane Ian-flooded vehicles totaled and are now selling the cars.
The cars that aren’t allowed to return to the road
Now, the insurance companies have hit some of these (more or less) exotics with a Florida Certificate of Destruction, including the Bentayga, the LC500, the Model S, the Challenger and the S2000. Unlike in the case of the Salvage Title, a Certificate of Destruction, which is permanent, means you can’t legally register the vehicle as a road car again.
Still, aficionados might consider buying these machines to turn into track cars, part them out or simply for the sake of yard art.
Then there’s the rest of them, which come with a Florida Salvage Rebuildable Flood title and could return to the street.
The Mercedes-AMG GT seems to stand out in particular fashion here, since Copart gave it the Run and Drive label. However, as the specialist explains, this means that, when the company assessed the vehicle, this would start, could be put into gear and move under its own power, but nothing more.
Attempting to save such a vehicle is no easy feat
Now, an enthusiast checking out these listings might feel a strong urge to buy these cars. And we get that: you see a performance vehicle whose damage isn’t obvious, and you wish to save it. Besides, the idea of such a performance/luxury machine being offered for a fraction of its normal price is quite something.
Alas, as much as we adore good cars and would love to see them returning to the road, we must caution you: some experts advise against buying flooded cars, especially modern vehicles were the electronics were most likely ruined by the water.
And Hurricane Ian-flooded vehicles are even greater gamble. These vehicles were submerged in saltwater (i.e. extra corrosive effect), with some of them even being dragged out of their garages by the ultra-high surge—this 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona and 1970 Plymouth Superbird were swept away even though they were resting over six feet high on their four-post lifts.
Note that the gamble is not just a financial one, at least when large batteries are involved. For instance, we’ll add that multiple Teslas that got drenched by Hurricane Ian are spontaneously combusting days later. The saltwater corroded the massive batteries of the EVs, with some of these having even reignited after being extinguished.
You need to know what you’re doing when attempting to revive such a car
Yes, you often see happy-ending stories of rescued flooded vehicles on the Internet, like that of the Bugatti Veyron that got driven into a saltwater lake back in 2009 and was revived earlier this year for a whopping amount of money.
But the people who master such rebuilds are usually in the car business. So they not only have serious financial resources and access to the required infrastructure, but can also build the said online stories in the process, integrating the rescues into their businesses.
Don’t get us wrong, we hope that those who know what they’re doing manage to rescue these vehicles. After all, some of these cars are rare birds (e.g. only about 15,000 Cadillac XLRs were built). Regardless, you should perhaps draw a conclusion quickly, as some of the auctions are ending soon (for one, there were just two hours left for the Bentley sale when this article was published).
Having revisited the said Copart link after two weeks, we noticed the number of Hurricane Ian-flooded vehicles went past 3,000, while classics like a 1972 Corvette have also shown up.
PS: Please note that this article is not intended as buying advice.