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The Top Reasons to go to a Classic Car Auction

It's so much more than just buying and selling great cars.

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To Buy a Collector Car

If you’re in the market to buy an older or collector car, auctions are a great place to do so. Where else would you have the opportunity to see and inspect such a large number of cars for sale in one place? Just choose which auction would have the cars you’d be interested in by viewing their online catalog which will include pictures and a comprehensive description of the cars that will be up for sale on a particular date. Most offer a free of charge viewing period for prospective buyers.

Keep in mind that auction companies usually charge a 10% buyers premium for which they will do as much vetting as possible to ensure that the car is what the sellers says it is, and you need to consider this to determine your maximum bid. We find this fee worth the alternative of choosing a car from a tiny picture with a 20 word description in a classified ad, and then be disappointed after a long drive to find that the car wasn’t as advertised.

To Sell a Collector Car

Auction companies do a great job of bringing a large number of qualified buyers to view your car in person, online and through television. The cost for you to assemble an audience of that size would be much higher than the seller’s premium you’ll be charged for this service; usually 8% to 12% depending if you have a reserve price that needs to be met.

You may be thinking you could sell your car better on your own, and that could be true. But we have only seen the number of cars bought and sold at auction increase dramatically over the years from folks who should have no problem selling cars on their own like celebrities, restoration shops and car makers.

To Help You Decide What Car to Buy

We don’t know how many times we have attended an auction to view a specific year/make/model only to come across a different year/make/model more suitable for what we were looking that we hadn’t considered before.

That saying “be careful of what you wish for because you just might get it” rings too true when buying a collector car. Just because you’ve always wanted a particular car doesn’t mean you should own it. The more cars you can investigate by going to an auction, the more likely you are to find a classic car that fits your budget, your skill set for maintaining it and your dreams for owning one.

To View Rare and Historic Vehicles

You don’t have to be a gear head to feel the excitement over a gathering of vehicles that may never be displayed for public viewing again, much less seen driving the streets of your home town. More often than not, the rare and historic cars that are sold at auction will go into to private collections or museums.

We find that a day at a collector car auction can be one of the most educational adventures one can have outside of going to a museum. Each car seems to have a story or history lesson whether it’s about technology, artistry or innovation within the automotive industry.

To Help With Your Restoration Project

Many of us have partially finished restoration projects hanging around the garage, or a project rotting in the barn, and we can’t emphasize enough what a tonic the auction can be for getting you off your rear and actually doing something about finishing the restoration.

When we were restoring our 1951 MGTD, we must have photographed every inch of every like model we found at the many Arizona auction events. These pictures proved invaluable as we looked to them for reference when putting the car back together.

You will also start to realize the care and detail you’ll need to take in restoring a car to concourse levels by the examples you’ll see at auctions. Or if you want your car to be an everyday driver, you can find ideas for smart conversions to make the car more amiable for today’s conditions.

For First Hand Knowledge of the Classic Car Market

If you are more than the casual hobbyist, and may at some point want to participate in the buying and selling of vehicles, you need to be at an auction for the true insights and education on the health and wealth of the classic car market.

Too many people make general statements regarding health or decline of collector car values based on sales at recent auctions. For instance, we read an article stating that Muscle Mopar cars are selling for half of what they were worth a year early based on what a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda recently sold for at auction. Muscle Mopar car’s value are still strong, its just that the high value examples don’t show up in a down market, but the lesser valued ones do like the 1970 Cuda that was referred to.

Each car will have its own value dependent of the condition, documentation and desirability regardless of what an identical year, make and model sold for, and you can only determine that with a full inspection.

To Enjoy the Auction Drama

The auction itself is often crowded, noisy and bizarre with showmen making their presence felt upon all gathered. There is adrenaline and electricity within that room, tent or hotel that is being stoked by all the various stakeholders. The sellers are nervous and wondering if the car be bid up to undreamt of heights or will they be slinking away with a reserve not met.

And of course we have the auctioneer and his merry army of helpers who will twist your arm to go ahead with that last winning shout for that 1961 Cadillac that your Granddad enjoyed in his prime. All the emotions get put on display...greed, avarice, joy, fear, surprise, disgust, anger, anticipation and trust. This in truth is much better than theatre.

If you ever plan to buy or sell a car at auction, you need to be prepared for this drama. And most of the large auctions are being televised now and stream live feed on huge screen that surround the auction block knowing that no one wants to look like a penny pincher in front of such a huge audience? We have learned that the feeling of getting a great car at a good price always outweighs any embarrassment of backing out of a bid and letting another guy get the car.

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