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4 Tips for Buying or Selling at Classic Car Auctions

Whether you are a tire kicker or a real-life mechanic, it is best to research the cars sold at auction beforehand. This can include inspecting vehicles’ history via their vehicle identification numbers, service records, and past owner details.

It is also important to establish a budget before the bidding begins. It is easy to get carried away during the bidding process and wind up paying more than you intend to.

Set a Budget

Whether you’re interested in buying or selling, setting a budget before the auction starts is an important step. It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of bidding and end up spending more than you intend to. You should also be aware of the amount of the buyer’s premium and other fees that will be added to your final purchase price.

Many classic car auctions list vehicles in advance, giving you the opportunity to research them before the big day. This is the best way to familiarize yourself with the cars you’re interested in. You can use online resources for information such as valuations, recent sales prices, and production numbers. Classic car forums and clubs are another great source of knowledge.

If you’re planning on purchasing a vehicle at the auction, bringing a mechanic along with you is recommended. This will help you ensure the vehicle is in good condition and properly maintained. You should also make sure to inspect the vehicle thoroughly before placing your bid. This is especially important if the car you’re bidding on has a history of significant repairs or is a wreck.

The most common mistakes people make at classic car auctions are overspending or rushing into a deal. This can lead to financial regret in the future, so it’s best to keep a clear head and avoid making these errors.

It’s also a good idea to stay away from “no reserve” auctions, as these are often held near the end of the day and can quickly become very competitive. In these cases, the highest bid wins.

If you’re going to be bidding on a particular vehicle, it’s a good idea to be there before the auction starts so that you can see the car in person and inspect it for any damage. Most auction houses offer preview days to allow you to do this. Some will also let you take the car for a test drive before the auction, so it’s worth asking if this is an option. Be sure to raise your bidding paddle in an obvious way to the auctioneer, and don’t miss your bid.

Inspect the Cars

One of the biggest mistakes you can make at auction is getting caught up in bidding on a classic car without thoroughly inspecting it. If you’re planning to bid on a vehicle, study the photos and inspection reports available in advance of the event. Check that all doors open and shut, the trunk is clean, and the hood compartment opens and closes properly. It’s a good idea to bring your own inspection tools, such as flashlights, magnets to detect filler, and hand-held mirrors for peering into tight spaces. If the vehicle is running, make sure it sounds good and doesn’t smell of cigarette smoke. Also, consider taking a battery health test kit to test the condition of the batteries.

You’ll want to arrive at the auction early enough to familiarize yourself with each of the cars on offer and determine when your preferred vehicles will be coming up for auction. Oftentimes, the auction catalog includes a brief history of each vehicle, and you can search online for details such as book values and previous ownership information.

Once the auction begins, position yourself in a location where you can clearly see the vehicles as they come onto the block. Most auctions will have a number on each vehicle that indicates when it will be up for sale. If you’re a new buyer, taking a friend with you who can act as your wingman during the auction process is wise.

Another advantage of arriving early is that you’ll have more time to inspect the cars. While you’re examining the car, look for oil spatter on the body, puddles under the vehicle, and signs of water damage in the engine compartment. Check the radiator for greenish stains, as these may indicate leaks. Finally, look for rust on the car’s underside and wheel wells.

You’ll likely be given between one and three hours after the sale to inspect and potentially drive a vehicle before paying for it unless you have a pre-purchase inspection option (usually at your own expense). If you’re uncomfortable with an on-site inspection, ask whether the auction offers this service and see if any professional sellers there can give you a detailed report on the vehicles they represent.

Be Prepared to Walk Away

It’s easy to get caught up in an auction’s excitement, which can lead you to spend more than you should. To avoid this, have a clear idea of your budget before you even enter the auction house and stick to it throughout the process. Additionally, be prepared to walk away from a vehicle if bidding is too steep. It’s better to be left with a dream car that you can afford than to wind up with buyer’s remorse after spending thousands of dollars on a scruffy car.

Before you head to the auction, research the car make and model you’re interested in. Take note of common problems with that type of car, buyer’s guides, recent auction prices, and more. This will give you a good idea of what to expect at the event and help you set your bids accordingly. It’s also a good idea to stay until the end of the auction, as many of the best deals occur once all the headline cars have been sold and the crowd begins to thin.

Aside from having a solid strategy, be sure to arrive early for the auction so that you can inspect all of the vehicles prior to the start of the bidding. Many auctions allow you to test drive the cars beforehand, so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity if possible. Additionally, you should be ready to make the most of the online preview opportunities that many auctions provide. These online presentations allow you to display a detailed and accurate description of your classic car, which can increase the likelihood that it will sell at the maximum price that you’re willing to accept.

Finally, you should have a plan for transporting your classic car after the auction is over. Whether that means arranging to trailer it home or shipping it, you should have this in place before the event so that you’re not left without a way to get your car once the bidding is over. In addition, be sure to purchase specialized insurance designed for classic cars, as standard auto insurance often doesn’t cover these vehicles.

Be Patient

The classic cars sold at auctions are often incredibly rare, making the prospect of buying your dream car at an affordable price thrilling. However, it can be overwhelming and even a little bit scary for those new to the process. This blog post will outline seven tips for anyone planning on attending a classic car auction for the first time.

When bidding on a classic car, it is important to have a clear plan before the event begins. You don’t want to get carried away during a bidding war and overpay for a vehicle you didn’t necessarily need or even wanted. If you have a budget in mind, stick to it and be willing to walk away if the price isn’t right for you.

Most – but not all – vehicles sold at auction are subject to a reserve, a set price below which the car won’t be sold. If you are interested in a specific vehicle, it is worthwhile to investigate whether or not it has a reserve, so you can be prepared for it when it comes up for auction.

It is also worth watching a few auctions before you try to bid on anything yourself. This will give you a feel for how quickly vehicles move across the block and also help you become familiar with how auctioneers deliver their sales pitch.

If you are a seller at an auction, it is worth taking the time to get high-quality pictures of your cars beforehand. These will attract more interest from buyers skimming through the catalog and can be a major factor in determining how much you might be able to sell your vehicle for.

Investigating insurance costs in advance is also a good idea, as standard auto insurance is unlikely to cover rare classics. Specialized insurance designed for collectors is usually far less expensive and will ensure that you are covered from the moment you take ownership of your vehicle. This will make for a smoother transition and will help to protect your investment.

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