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Mr Bean actor makes biggest ever car repair claim

Rowan Atkinson has clocked up the UK's biggest ever car repair bill. Picture: SWNS

Rowan Atkinson has clocked up the UK's biggest ever car repair bill. Picture: SWNS

  • by STEPHEN MCGINTY AND SAM BOYDEN
 

IT is a bill that would leave Mr Bean bug-eyed with fright.

The insurers of Rowan Atkinson’s supercar have had to pay £910,000 to fix it after the comedian drove into a tree, triggering the biggest repair bill ever recorded in Britain.

While his bumbling comic alter-ego Mr Bean would have no trouble manoeuvring into a stationary object, Atkinson is usually a driver of considerable skill who notched up the fastest lap in the “star in a reasonable priced car” section of the BBC show Top Gear.

But in 2011, he was unlucky enough to hit a slippery patch while driving a McLaren F1.

The comedian, 58, suffered a shoulder injury, but while he recovered quickly, his 240mph supercar spent more than a year in the hands of McLaren’s expert technicians in Woking, Surrey.

The result was the £910,000 repair bill for a car Atkinson bought for £640,000 in 1997.

It was three times as much as the most expensive repair claim previously documented.

Atkinson, who is worth a reported £71 million, hit the slippery patch of road near Peterborough which caused him to lose control of the F1 and hit a tree. The force of the crash sent the car’s 6.1 litre engine flying, and it landed 20 yards away from the vehicle.

Technicians at McLaren Special Operations spent four weeks calculating how much the car would cost to repair, with the figure coming out at £910,000. The job was given the go-ahead by the insurance company, which has not been named, because the F1’s value has soared, with one immaculate model selling for £3.5m last year.

Sixteen months after the accident, Atkinson is back on the road in the car and plans to use it as regularly as possible.

His full experience is documented in this month’s Classic and Sports Car, where he explained that getting behind the wheel after more than a year was like “putting a familiar sweater on”.

He told the magazine: “I’m not a collector. I don’t like the toy cupboard syndrome that causes so many good cars to evaporate.

“It depresses me that they are hidden away like investment art, or gold ingots in a Swiss vault.

“The McLaren is just so usable, it is a crime not to use it. No gritted teeth, you just get in and drive.”

McLaren built only 64 road-going F1s and they are regarded as the most sought-after modern car – they can go from 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds.

Their desirability has seen collectors and enthusiasts comparing them to the 1960s’ Ferrari 250 GTO, currently the must-have classic car, which commands a £20m price-tag.

It was the second time Atkinson had crashed his F1. The actor, currently appearing in Quartermaine’s Terms at Wyndham’s Theatre in London, front-ended it into a Rover Metro in 1999.

When he crashed the car the second time, he had driven it 38,000 miles and is adamant it will be used regularly as he aims to reach 100,000 miles – a huge distance for a rare supercar.

The £910,000 bill for Atkinson’s F1 is believed to be among the highest ever repair bills for a single car, and is three-times as much as the £300,000 Aviva paid to fix a Pagani Zonda, which is worth £500,000 and was crashed by a test driver near Aberdeen in 2009.

Insurance firm Adrian Flux, which provides premiums for classic models and supercars, yesterday produced a mock premium quote for the Blackadder star.

The broker calculated how much it would cost for a 58-year-old celebrity who had crashed a multi-million-pound McLaren F1, causing £910,000 damage.

They said it would cost about £38,000 a year to insure the car fully comprehensive, with any claim resulting in a £200,000 excess.

A spokesperson for Adrian Flux said: “Any supercar worth £3.5 million will have a high premium, but because of the nature of the owner’s occupation as an entertainer, and his previous claim, it is going to cost a large amount of money.”

 

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