Buying A Classic Car At Auction

Nov 9, 2021 2 min read
Buying A Classic Car At Auction

With auctions back in full swing, new collectors are trying to get into the bidding game.

The pandemic has put the collector car pastime on steroids and attracted many new collectors to the hobby. A lot of people get entry into the automotive enthusiast segment with cars they find at auction. Automotive auctions are fantastic for the sleuthy, but some big mistakes could cause the novice to lose on an investment, or just buy the wrong car entirely. Here are some quick, basic rules from experts in the industry that you need to learn to live by.

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Review the entire catalog

A lot of people find out about an auction because a car in the inventory sent them that way. While you might have a wishlist, sometimes you’ll find a car on the auction docket that’s a much better deal, or a car you didn’t know they had. Don’t get stuck on one particular car, know your options.

Know the run order

When you have your list of cars picked out, learn the run order of the auction event. Most auction houses use assigned lots, but these aren’t necessarily in sequential numerical order. Sometimes, the numbers on the lots on displayed on the car are internal code and have no meaning other than identification. Find out the actual order cars will be crossing the block before go day, don’t just assume.

Check the VIN

If you’re eyeing a particular car, get all of the information you can ahead of time, including the VIN. While most auction houses vet cars ahead of time, it’s best to check for yourself as well. This is also true with private sales, but bidders tend to assume they don’t need to with auction cars, but that’s a mistake that could end in your car not being able to be registered, or worse, seized by the state, it’s happened!

Be prepared for the payment and pickup terms

While some payment and receiving terms might be so detailed that you’ll need a law degree to sort through, it’s important you know what they are before bidding. You should know what payment methods are accepted, hold payments, fees, and your window to pay and pickup your car, because it’s usually not a large time frame.

Stick to your guns

This is a problem a lot of people have getting into attending automotive auctions. The entire event is designed to excite your sense and bring out your competitive nature so you spend more money than you wanted to - which is great for the auction house and sellers, but it’s a rookie mistake. Establish your cap on each car you plan to bid on, and don’t go over it, there will be other cars and other events. Research the current valuations ahead of time, establish what percentage of that you consider to be a deal, or worth it to you, and stop bidding at that price, no exceptions. would like to thank American Collectors Insurance for their continued support of the collector car hobby. As the highest customer-rated classic car insurance company in the industry, American Collectors Insurance provides innovative insurance products tailored to the unique needs of fellow Collectors.

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