Category: Auctions

By on December 1, 2016

1982 Phillips Berlina brown front quarter

It seems that I’m not good at handicapping auctions. I’m sure it’s a skill that can be acquired through practice and repetition. But between the drudgery of a day job and wrangling a pair of kids, in-depth sales analysis will always get pushed to the back burner.

Still, exploring a single interesting car is never a problem. Maybe call it a Digestible Auctionable?

As I digitally strolled through the over six hundred lots offered this weekend at Mecum’s Kansas City sale, today’s 1982 Phillips Berlina stopped me cold, returning me to my teenage years and, of all things, my cheap toy-store mountain bike.

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By on November 23, 2016

RM Sotheby's Milan Auction Header, Images: RM Auctions, Inc.

Our annual feast of dead bird, fine pigskin, family arguments, cheap electronics, and roughly 200 (of 600) good episodes of The Simpsons is upon us. And once again, we take a glimpse into the wild world of classic car auctions, sure to be another magnificent family tradition.

Due to the holiday weekend here in the States, this week we look east to Milan for RM Sotheby’s Duemila Ruote 2016, an auction featuring over 400 collectibles — all at no reserve. I loved looking through this catalog. The exotics are awesome, of course, but the relatively pedestrian cars that we just don’t see here are what catch my eye.

Or, with one example, turn my stomach.

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By on November 17, 2016

1959 Volkswagen Samba red front quarter

It seems that I have much to learn about the classic car auction scene. A yearly January couch session with beer and remote in hand is clearly not enough to understand how cars go under the gavel. Depending on how I feel like keeping score, I’ve slipped well below the Mendoza line in my two short weeks handicapping vintage auto sales.

Fortunately, I have another chance for redemption this weekend. Once again, Mecum is doing the selling, this time in sunny Anaheim, California. I’m now seriously regretting not flying west to cover this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show.

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By on November 10, 2016

1982 Jeep Scrambler white custom woody

Well, that didn’t go as planned. Though, working from a baseball analogy, batting .250 isn’t too bad. More on last week’s picks later — on to the new stuff in sunny Florida!

For years, Carlisle has been shorthand for a series of massive swap meets in a central Pennsylvania town. I’ve not had the pleasure of a Carlisle event yet, but I’m imagining a million-acre orgy of rusty cars and parts. In other words, heaven.

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By on November 3, 2016

Mecum Auction Dallas 2015

I have a sickness. I can’t stop shopping for classic cars I’ve no hope of buying. While I’ve been shopping eBay, Craigslist, various forums, and other classic sites over the years, I’ve never spent much time looking at auctions. The prices seem inflated — especially when the auction house’s cut is considered.

But perhaps that’s a good thing. Private party sales via classifieds introduce a significant element of risk, either via outright fraud or the natural problems of handing over either a title or a wad of cash to an outright stranger. Classic car auctions are appealing since there is a nominally neutral third-party involved in the transaction.

So, I’ve decided to virtually wade into the crowd and see what’s coming Across The Block. In an occasional series, I’ll pick out several interesting cars coming up for auction that weekend, discuss them briefly, and make wild guesses to their eventual hammer price.

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By on April 15, 2016

Mark stands in front of his demolished Ford Focus, Image: © 2013 Matthew Guy/The Truth About Cars

Note: I’ve mentioned my one-time demo derby experience in the comments on a few occasions, so here’s the full story. This piece originally ran on Autos.ca and was later republished on autoTRADER.ca. It’s republished here with permission. I hope you enjoy it. —MS

Public auctions are usually a sea of bad decisions waiting to find a home in a new idiot’s garage or driveway. At one particular auction over the summer, I was the idiot, and my bad decision lay in wait with bated breath in the lot of automotive shame.

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By on January 4, 2016

Escort_wreck_006

Salvage and rebuilt vehicle listings on Craigslist (and other classified sites) are ubiquitous. They often manifest themselves as late-model metal with low prices and even lower standards of ad copy.

But have you ever wondered how those vehicles end up on Craigslist in the first place? What happens to a salvage or rebuilt vehicle between the time it’s sold at auction and its first appearance on your local classified site?

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By on December 10, 2015

titleloan

Many people rely on title loans when money is tight, regardless of their infamous predatory nature and high interest rates. However, getting that loan is much like playing Russian Roulette — and with similar odds. According to a recent PEW study, one out of every nine title loans results in a repossession, with the titled vehicle eventually heading to auction. 

Recently, I received a notice that a large title loan vendor was to auction off over 500 vehicles. My curiosity got the better of me. Armed with the auction run list and a VIN history tool, I decided to take a look at what ends up at these auctions and how they get there.

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By on September 3, 2015

Used cars

Going to visit a dealer on a rainy day or the third Sunday after a holiday might not help you get a better deal on a used car, but tracking how long it’s been sitting on the lot may work in your favor. Aged inventory takes up valuable lot space while interest adds up every day motivating most dealers to drop the price to sell it quickly.

Most cars arrive on a dealer lot arrive from wholesale auctions or customer trade-in and are paid out from dealer funds or by a loan through floorplan financing. As with most loans, interest and fees are paid until the loan is satisfied for the floorplan. Each day of interest cuts into the potential profit for a vehicle so dealers try to move inventory as quickly as possible.

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By on August 14, 2015

stsmain2

The prospect of buying a salvage titled car for almost half the price of one of its clean titled counterparts is tempting for many potential car buyers, but increasingly it’s becoming a losing proposition. I have bought and reconditioned a few dozen salvage cars (I currently own three). As I am getting ready to embark on a new car buying adventure, I sat back to look at the math for my current daily driver.

I purchased my 2005 Cadillac STS from an insurance auction a few years ago for about $3,400. After it arrived, I spent another $2,300 to repair it and get it back on the road. I went through the receipts a few months ago and wrote up a summary of the costs. It worked out to be a great deal for me at the time but now that I am getting ready to replace it, I decided to take a look back and see if I actually saved any money in the long run.

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