A model escaped her Mini Cooper just four seconds before it exploded in a fireball after making a strange 'clunking' sound.
Antonia Knowles, 23, of Ascot, Berkshire, was driving home from a shopping trip when the noise began - and she stopped and called a garage, who agreed to look at it.
But on the way there, thick black smoke and flames started billowing from the engine, so she pulled to the side of the road in Burnham and leapt out before it burst into flames.
The blaze, which destroyed the 2005 vehicle, was eventually put out an hour later by two fire engines - and the road was closed for four days after the car melted into the tarmac.
The physiotherapist said: ‘I saw flames coming out of the bonnet as I was driving and a warning light flashed up on the dashboard.
‘It took me ten seconds or so to pull over - it was the longest ten seconds of my life. It was horrendous. I got out of the car and just as I put my foot on the pavement it blew.
‘The whole car literally burst into flames. At first it was flames coming out of the top bit but within seconds the whole car was in flames.
‘The flames grew and grew and all of the glass smashed out of the windows. It was terrifying. I could feel the heat all over me. I was covered in ash and I stank of smoke.’
Miss Knowles - who infamously appeared drunk on a live Celebrity Big Brother show with host Rylan Clark in January while wearing a distinctive red jumpsuit - said the only thing in the car that survived was her Mulberry handbag in the boot.
She added that firemen and police told her the blaze was probably caused by an electrical fault.
Miss Knowles said she bought the black 1.6 model for just under £10,000 in 2011 - and was offered £4,000 compensation by Mini Cooper.
She added: ‘I would have kept that car for years had it not exploded. Instead, I had to pay £2,000 out of my own pocket for a new car because I didn’t feel safe getting another Mini.
The Mini and the Road was a total loss the handbag survived go figure.
oops there is more
What if I had passengers and they couldn’t get out? What if I hadn’t got out? The story could have had a very different ending.’
In 2012 BMW recalled 30,000 Mini Coopers made between 2006 and 2011 after reports of fires due to an electrical fault with the water pumps.
The manufacturer reassured customers they could keep driving the cars even if the recall work had not been carried out, due to a very low chance of failure.
The road in Burnham, Berkshire, was closed for four days after the car melted into the tarmac
According to BMW, only one incident of fire had been recorded in the UK. The company said they were unable to conduct an investigation into Miss Knowles’s fire because no forensic evidence was supplied by her insurance company.
The flames grew and grew and all of the glass smashed out of the windows. It was terrifying. I could feel the heat all over me
A spokesman said: ‘In light of no forensic evidence from Ms Knowles’s insurance company or further information about the events leading up to this incident, it is not possible for MINI UK to conduct a technical investigation.’
But Miss Knowles - who regularly carried three children she babysat in the car - added: ‘I was told by fireman at the scene, the police and the recovery that it was an electrical fault that caused the problem.
'I do not know why the insurance has not informed Mini that this was the case.
‘My car had a full MOT, full service history and no warning lights came on prior to the event. I nearly lost my life and there could have been three young lives lost too.’