Your next dream car could be up for grabs at an upcoming classic car auction. If you’re not familiar with how an auction works however, you may be a little intimidated to make a bid for the first time. The bidding action moves fast, and you could quickly lose out on a great car or make an expensive mistake. We’re here to help new auction-goers understand the process and bid with confidence. Have you bid before? How did it go? Share your experience in the comments.
Need to Know Basics for Auction Newcomers
Research the Auction. Learn everything you can about the auction in advance. Make sure it’s conducted by a reputable auction company. Review the auction rules online or give them a call to see if there’s anything special you need to know about bidding.
Identify 1 or 2 Target Cars. If you head to the auction without a clear plan in mind, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Decide on a limited range of makes, models and prices you’re willing to bid on - ideally just one or two cars. Learn everything you can about the cars you’re interested in, including their value, history and production numbers. Research how to decode VIN numbers and how to spot fakes. When you’re armed with information, you can make a solid bid and avoid getting taken for a ride.
Ask the Experts. Reach out to people who specialize in the cars you’re interested in - a mechanic, a car club owner, an experienced enthusiast or restorer. See what they think of the listing and ask for their sage advice about buying at auction. People who attend classic car auctions are usually full of great tips for newcomers.
Keep Budget Top of Mind. This might be the most important tip about going to an auto auction: Don’t bid more than you can afford. Ever. It’s easy to get swept up in the action, especially over the anticipation of owning your dream car. Experts say it’s best to establish a maximum and stick to it. Many collectors say the rule for first-timers is to buy the best example of anything you can afford - including fees and shipping.
Read Listings for Fun. The pros become avid readers of auction magazines and online listings, so act like a pro. Review the results of previous auctions and see the going prices for the cars you’re targeting. Get familiar with the lingo and understand common abbreviations - for both the cars and the auctions. Make sure you know terms like “reserve auction” and “absolute auction,” because it will affect how you should bid.
Bullet Points for Auction Day
- Arrive early and scope it out. On the day of the auction, arrive early and take time to inspect the vehicle carefully. Bring a trusted friend or appraiser along, if you can. Get a good seat as close to the front as you can. Remember, other bidders are watching your body language and listening to what you say, so try not to give anything away - after all, they’re your competition.
- Bid confidently. Be respectful but assertive when bidding. Make sure the auctioneer can see and hear you clearly each time you bid and raise your paddle high. Keep your phone silenced and don’t allow anything to distract you. Just a few moments’ distraction can cost you the car.
- Be wary of bidding wars. Sometimes a bidding war will start, where two or three bidders quickly drive up the price of the car in intense back-and-forth bidding. Stay calm and don’t get caught up in something you can’t afford. If the prices go sky high, know when to stop, and save your money for another auction.
- Pay, insure and ship/drive. Be prepared to pay in full at the close of the auction. Insure your new car immediately, especially before any movement or shipping takes place. A great specialty insurance agency that deals with classic or collector vehicles will cover your new purchase from the moment you buy it.
Meaningful Groundwork, Big Payoff
It’s a satisfying feeling to find a hidden gem at an auto auction. In fact, many new auction-goers develop such a fondness for the experience, they attend classic car auctions just for fun. Enjoy your first auction, and if you win - enjoy your new dream car!
Collector and Classic Car Insurance for Less
Classic Auto covers any new addition to a collection for 30 days to allow time to formally add the car to your policy. Collectors can increase this limit. Let us customize a policy to fit your needs. We offer affordable, Agreed Value coverage for a variety of collector, classic and custom vehicles. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff can answer your questions. Call 888-901-1338 or get an instant quote online and see how we can help safeguard your dream car.