A British car insurance company has forked out a staggering NZ$1.97 million to repair actor Rowan Atkinson's crashed supercar.
The 58-year-old Atkinson, star of television comedy series Black Adder and Mr Bean, crashed his McLaren F1 off a slippery road and into a tree near Peterborough in England in August 2011.
Although Atkinson only suffered a shoulder injury in the incident, the force of the crash reportedly ripped out the car's 6.1-litre engine.
Now, The Sun newspaper is reporting that the actor has his beloved 385 kmh supercar back, but at a huge cost - £910,000 to be exact, which converts to NZ$1.97 million - which is said to be the biggest-ever repair bill in Britain.
Atkinson had "only" paid £640,000 (NZ$1.19m) for the vehicle in 1997 but The Sun reported the insurance company decided to repair the car because the value of the F1's - only 64 road-going versions were built - has soared in the meantime, with one selling for £3.5m (NZ$6.5m) last year. The previous biggest repair bill in Britain is reported to be £300,000 paid to fix a wrecked Pagani Zonda.
After it took McLaren's special ops a month to figure out the repair costs, it took them another 12 months to complete the rebuild.
The high-performance car makes extensive use of carbon fibre and needed specialist care which is why it took weeks just to get a proper insurance estimate.
Ben Stagg, specialty insurer with RK Harrison, said the quality components used to make an 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 fibre 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 used compared to everyday cars that make it so expensive."
He said many owners baby their expensive cars, driving them only a few times a year in perfect weather conditions, but Atkinson actually drives his McLaren extensively.
The unusual repair job is extensively documented in Classic & Sports Car magazine, with a picture of the burgundy McLaren on the cover.
Atkinson, last seen by many playing piano as Mr Bean during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, told the magazine he believes 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 it."
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 it, 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."
We are now left wondering how much his car insurance premium has increased.
- © Fairfax NZ News