Since January is here it is not only the start to a new year – it’s the start to a new auction season! January has traditionally been “auction heaven” when it comes to collector cars, and the last ten years have been incredible for muscle cars! Arizona in particular is a hub of automotive auctions in January, and our friends and Sports Car Market have put together an outstanding guide to all of the auctions there. Click here for the direct link to their guide – all of the auction websites are listed below as well.
Selling at auction:
If you are a fan of the auction process, selling a car at auction can provide an incredible thrill. Why? Well, the best way to get a good price when selling a car is to drop your Reserve Price (the lowest price point you’ll sell the car for) at just the right time. You’re taking a gamble that the crowd is excited and that the people bidding on the car will stop at nothing to have it. They’ll feed off of the crowd, be caught in the moment, and buy your car at a high price…..or will they? It can just as easily go the opposite way, so it’s always a gamble! (Just as a side note – if the car does not sell it’s quite common for a deal to be worked after the fact between the seller and an interested buyer).
If you choose to go the auction route (and many people do) go in with your eyes open to the process. Prepare your car ahead of time and bring as much documentation on it as possible. The potential buyers will have the opportunity to scout your car prior to the car going over the auction block, and many times the real “sale” is made then! If you have a minimum dollar price you’ll sell the car for, get that determined up front – don’t guess at the last second when emotions are running high. Then all that’s left to do is run the car across the block and cross your fingers! Go for it!
Buying at Auction:
When buying a car at auction it’s best to go in prepared with a few things:
- Knowledge of the cars coming across the block
- Knowledge of the buying/selling prices in the industry for that make/model
- A resolve to walk away….without the car
Knowledge of the cars:
As mentioned above in the Selling section, you will have the chance to scout the cars ahead of time. This is your big chance to get the history on the car and find out those little things that you’d never be able to guess by only seeing it cross the auction block once. Peek under the hood. Look underneath. If the owner has documentation on it, it’ll be there to review – you can count on it!
Knowledge of the buying/selling prices:
In just the same way you wouldn’t buy a used car without looking up it’s Blue Book value, you can do quite a bit of research on the auction prices that cars have been bought/sold for. There are many resources available for this, but one of the slickest available is Keith Martin’s Collector Car Price Tracker (which you can get a free one month subscription to by signing up for the newsletter on our website). Use this service to see what the car of your dreams has been going for recently…..and be sure to compare apples to apples when doing so (i.e. rough cars vs nice ones, true cars vs clones, etc.). Proper preparation ahead of time will prevent you from paying too much….which leads us to our next topic!
Be prepared to walk away….without the car:
It is hard to not become caught up in the emotional moment of an auction….but try to think more with your head than your heart when doing so, unless you’re really wealthy and buying a muscle car to you is like buying a dozen eggs. You need to be prepared to walk away from the auction without the car you came to buy. Stick to your set price point and don’t deviate. If you don’t you’re almost guaranteed to spend too much, and if you’re buying the car as an investment that can be the kiss of death!
If you’re buying a car because it’s what you’ve always wanted (maybe that Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am you wanted since you were 15 years old), you still need to go in prepared with a price point in mind. Now is not the time to mortgage your house. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. If not, there is another muscle car out there somewhere…..and that was the one you were supposed to be with anyway.
Not Selling or Buying….just there for the show?
All of that being said, if you’re just into the spectacle of auctions but have no interest in buying or selling, they’ll all let you in for a small ticket price…..or better yet, you can watch them on TV! Barrett Jackson is typically on the Speed Channel, and Mecum is on HD Theatre. Either one will offer you hours of watching beautiful muscle cars in the full glory of High Definition. Be careful though as watching those auctions is like a moth to a flame – you won’t be able to take your eyes off of it!
Mecum (not in Arizona at all…..but it’s one you don’t want to miss!)