Hammer Time: The Happy Auction Family

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time the happy auction family

The first rule is that everybody at the auction is your friend. This doesn’t mean you back slap or kiss ass (though many do this quite well). But I like to say that the three currencies in the auto auction business are conversation, collusion and company. Simply put, you converse and collude with those you hang out with in the hope that when it’s your time of need, they leave you the hell alone.

The major auto auctions have thousands of vehicles. Consequently they usually last several hours long, and between enduring 130 decibels of auctioneer gibberish and a pollution level that would make Ralph Nader willingly drive a Corvair, you really need to make the most of your time. Inspecting and appraising vehicles, talking about the events du jour, and generally passing the time between cars of interest is as much a part of the auction game as discussing things of interest between pitches at a baseball game.

Related to this, you REALLY need to pick your battles IF you’re going to get the deals. A manipulated market such as an auction is a force to be reckoned with. Consequently, you and your friends may like many of the very same cars. That doesn’t mean you need to go to war. But it also doesn’t mean that there will always be peace amongst the brethren. Most intelligent buyers at the sales will realize when their friends are on a car and, if it’s not worth fighting over, will give little more than a cursory glance and walk away. It’s buyer’s courtesy, king’s rule, and really just smart unless capitalism and greed say otherwise.

In this case you either wait for your friend to stop bidding or, if you have already anticipated the war, you have someone else bid for you. Afterward, saying something such as “Did you get it?” or “You got a good deal on that” is all a friend needs to know that you looked out for them. If they’re smart, they remember the favor.

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  • Jwolfe Jwolfe on Feb 19, 2009

    @johnny ro : There is definatly an understood honor among thieves for the repeat players. Used car Joe that is a onesy twosy player, is a a light player bc he has not mastered the game yet. In some cases, used car joe can buy the car cheaper by telling kingpin wholesale johnny what he wants to pay. IE I'll give 20k for this, through your reputation and intimidation and having this lane wired you can prob buy it for less. So you buy it for me, and I'll buy your auction ticket for 500 profit. Seriuosly, many cases used car joe can get unit for 18500, bc kingpin johnny isn't manupulating the lane and driving joe upto the end money. Like I said, there is honor among theives, and there is DEF politics in the auction lanes, unspoken, but well known for the literate.

  • Fred Fred on Feb 19, 2009

    I go with my American car loving friends and then bid on the foreign cars. We work together, "Did you see that nice Chevelle?" I ask, or they ask "What the hell are you bidding on?" Most of the time we go for fun and are too poor to actually make a deal.

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