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Prize-winning Beetle written off by Storm Desmond

Published 14 December 2015

The proud owner of a 1973 Volkswagen Beetle has been left devastated after hearing that his prize-winning classic has been written-off in floods caused by storm Desmond, which caused widespread havoc throughput parts of northern England.

Neil Rankin, who lives in Lancaster, thought his vehicle would be safe thanks to rented indoor parking – only to find that the entire car park was to end up completely submerged.

‘Ironically, I’d decided to rent some underground storage for the Beetle to make sure it was kept safe and dry,’ Neil told Honest John Classics, recalling the events of 5-6 December. ‘When I first heard of the flooding, I headed straight there.

The water was only a foot and a half deep at that stage, but was already over the battery and the exhaust. The best thing I could do – with the help of a friend and a passer-by – was to wade in up to my knees and push the car on to higher ground.’

Beetle Pic 3

The 1973 Bug has been declared a total write-off and must be scrapped.

The Beetle was at that point out of the water, although Neil had no idea of what was to come, ‘Little did I know that the flood level was to rise by a total of eight feet.’  The car ended up almost completely covered, with only the top of its roof visible above the water.

To make matters worse, Neil was unable to assess the situation until a couple of days later, ‘I’m a charge nurse on the emergency floor at the local hospital, and a major incident was declared. We worked long hours, with extra staff arriving by army truck to help deal with what was happening.’

Neil’s Beetle was fully restored to a high standard some years ago, and in more recent times had been slightly lowered, treated to a 1600cc engine upgrade and fitted with Fuch-style Porsche wheels for more of a Cal-style spec.

It was exhibited at the Manchester Classic Car Show as recently as September, where it won the Best 1970s Car category.

Beetle Pic 1

Neil's Volkwsagen Beetle - before it was submerged in flood water.

With agreed-value insurance in place, Neil was hopeful that even if his insurer decided the car was a write-off, he’d be able to buy the salvage and restore it once again, but that plan is now in ruins.

Neil said, ‘My insurance company tells me that, as the car was submerged in floodwater, it has to legally be classed as a Category B total-loss write-off, which means there’s no way I can ever get it back on the road. Sadly it’s off to the big scrap yard in the sky. I’m totally gutted and feel like I’ve lost a member of the family.’



Cappuccino Break    on 15 December 2015

What a heartbreaking story. Hope he gets a decent payout at least.

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