Classic car auctions can be a great way to buy a beautiful classic car at a great price. However, if you’re not careful, you can end up paying much more than you had originally planned. And, there is no “cooling down period” at most muscle car auctions. Once you’ve made your bid, it can’t be retracted in most cases. Listed below is some information regarding classic car auctions and how to maximize every dollar you eventually spend at auction.
Basically, there are two kinds of classic car auctions. The first kind is where you’ll find much lower prices, but this is because the quality of the cars is usually much less. Public auctions, either held or sponsored by city, state or county governments will mostly have cars that have either been confiscated by the authorities or abandoned by owners. Many times, especially with police or law enforcement auctions, you will need to have the car towed away, because most of the cars have been seized in drug raids and have been dismantled to look for evidence. The other type of auction is quite often associated with classic car shows. Some of these, like the Barrett-Jackson and Mecum auctions, will normally be stand alone auctions. This means that if you want to pay the lowest amount and don’t mind some work reassembling the car, usually the interior, government sponsored public auctions will be the way to go.
Know Exactly what You want Beforehand
This doesn’t mean you have to know that you want a Canary Yellow 1965 Ford Mustang with a 289 and a factory automatic transmission. If you’re not exactly sure what kind of car you want, make sure that you at least set yourself a ceiling, and be ready to stick within about 5 to 10% of it. Ideally, you will set a maximum expenditure ceiling and know that you want something like a 1970 Pontiac. That means you’ll know how much you’re willing to spend and that the money can be spent on a GTO, Trans Am, Grand Prix, etc.
Research Past Sales
Both the Barrett-Jackson and Mecum websites allow you to search auction histories for prices that have been paid in recent auctions for a particular year, make and model of car. This means that if you’re looking for a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z28-RS, you’ll find that a beautiful specimen was sold recently at the Orange County Auction for $66,000. Finding historical data for public auctions will be a little more difficult. Check your local Yellow Pages for more information regarding local auctions. Automotive valuation sites are also a good way to check the value of classic cars. Kelley Blue Book and edmunds are both good sites to perform this type of research at.
Inspect The Cars Prior to Bidding
As stated above, some of the auctions out there will require you to be able to put at least the interior of a car back together after buying it. Make sure you inspect the cars you plan on bidding for thoroughly beforehand. Make sure you know everything that will need to be done before the car can be driven.
The most important thing to know when attending classic car auctions is that not all of them are the same. Ask questions about the auction before going. This way you’ll be sure to get the best deal possible and have an enjoyable time.