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'Hey! Where did all my petrol go?'

Are automakers taking car owners for a ride? Are fuel consumption figures just for laughs? DAVE FALL finds out...

Bean's body shop has last laugh

2013-02-09 09:21

BEAN AND HIS McLAREN: Rowan Atkinson (aka Mr Bean) and his ill-starred McLaren in an image from 1998. Why it looks so tacky we can't explain - any reader help out please? Image: AP

Author: GREGORY KATZ

 
LONDON, England - Everybody who's had a fender bender knows the cost of repairs is going up but few cars can be as costly to fix as Mr Bean's McLaren F1.

Mr Bean, of course is actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson's and it took more than a year - and the equivalent of R12-million - to get his supercar up and running after a 2011 crash that left Atkinson with a badly damaged shoulder.

And definitely not laughing... because it was the second time he had crashed the same car.

SPECIALIST CARE

The unusual repair job, thought to involve one of the largest car insurance settlements in British history, is extensively documented in Classic & Sports Car magazine, with a picture of the burgundy McLaren on the cover.

Much of the car is made of carbon fibre so needed specialist care - it tooks weeks just to get a proper insurance estimate. Ben Stagg, specialty insurer with RK Harrison in the UK, said the quality components used to make a McLaren F1 are one reason the repair costs were so high.

"All modern supercars are predominantly carbon fibre - most Lamborghinis, most Ferraris - and the smallest ding in carbon fiber is a big repair job," he said. "And part of the engine bay is gold, that's the best heat conductor. It's the materials they use compared to everyday cars that make it so expensive."

He said many owners of such cars rarely drove them, and then only in perfect weatherbut Atkinson actually drove his McLaren extensively.

Atkinson, last seen by many playing a piano as Mr. Bean during the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, told the magazine he believed supercars should be used, not sequestered in garages.

"It depresses me when great cars are hidden away," he said. "It's a crime not to use them."

USED PRICE? R49m!

Magazine editor Alastair Clements said Atkinson should be applauded. "He let us do the story because he wanted other enthusiasts to know that he loves his McLaren, that he isn't just some celebrity with an expensive car, that he's owned it for 15 years and loved it for 15 years," he said. "He's put it back exactly as it was. He's a bit of a hero. It's much more than the value."

Of course, the value is there - Stagg said the last used McLaren F1 sold on the open market went for the equivalent of about R49-million.

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'Hey! Where did all my petrol go?'

Are automakers taking car owners for a ride? And are fuel consumption figures just for laughs? DAVE FALL finds out if we're all just being misled?

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