Hammer Time Rewind: Tricking A Birddog

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time rewind tricking a birddog

Every few months I get an unwanted creature in my life.

It smiles. It makes nice conversation, and for as long as I’m at the auction it almost never leaves me alone.

“What did you think about that car Steve?”, “How’s business going Steve?” “Are you going to bid on that car Steve?”

Rarely do I get sick of hearing my own name. But when it’s said for the sake of a one sided relationship, my mind wanders to deviant thoughts.

A typical birddog at the sales will eye you as you’re looking at a vehicle. “Hmmm… he likes that vehicle! Oh yes, I’m going to snap this losing streak and outbid him. Some retail buyer will definitely pay more for it!”

The trick when it comes to any birddog is to get them to buy rancid crap.

Stare at the rolling turds before the sale. Spend time with them. Before the auction begins, go through every little crevice of the interior and spend copious times underneath the hood as el señor birddog pretends to like you.

When you walk away from the car, keep looking at it. Longingly. The bigger the turd. The longer the look. Then make a few scribbles on your run list and head to the ‘auction barn’ when the sale starts.

If the birddog is still on you, strike up a quick conversation with a friend as he gleefully listens to meaningless pleasantries.

Snap a quick wink to your friend, and then tell the birddog, “I’ll be right back.”

Walk away out of sight, get an extra copy of the run list, and then make a sharp turn back to your pre-auction inspections.

You are now thankfully free from the birddog for a limited time.

Now it’s time to enjoy yourself. On one run list make your usual notes on good cars. On the second run list, make notes of the shitty cars you found with bid prices that are high enough to keep the birddog out of the auctions for a long time.

It’s important not to ever personally insult the birddog because he will try to outbid you out of pure greed and spite for months on end until his last line of credit has been shut. Always be nice. Always make sure the ‘bad’ list is within easy sight of the birddog’s eyes.

While you pretend to pay attention to the bidding at the auction, the birddog will make note of your turd list. If the fellow is particularly hoversome, you may need to also be extra discrete with your bidding.

I’ve always found it better to just walk away from the birddog when you need to bid on the good cars, and just give a quick glance and wink to the auctioneer while not missing a beat in your walk.

A quick but casual use of your fingers or fist will also give most auctioneers the sign that you need. Always make sure your back is turned away from the birddog when this happens.

Choosing an odd number instead of the usual 100, 500 and 1000 increments also helps you lose the birddog’s scent. Especially if the auctioneer has a reputation for running up the price.

When the auctioneer goes down in price to an amount that has a 600, 800, 1100 in it, many dealers automatically think that he is trying to bump up the bid… and see if he’ll go lower. For instance out of the four cars I bought today, two were started off at 600 and 1100 instead of 500 and 1000. They were older vehicles. A 1996 Honda Passport and a 1998 Saturn LS1. I didn’t receive a single competing bid and they both ended up being good cars.

As for the birddog….

I waited until another Saturn came through the lane. Salvage title. Frame damage aplenty. Enough peeling paint and rust spots to make it part of native Detroit’s architecture. In fact here was the announcement.

“Announcements: clamp marks, frame damage, miles exempt, rebuilt history, salvage history”

I stared longingly at my favorite turd while the birddog asked me, “Are you going to bid on this?” My answer was, “I don’t know.”. I looked at the car, dropped into a crowd where making out my bid would be difficult, and smiled at the auctioneer so that he would look in my direction.

The first bids came in and the dance began. I was lucky enough to have a bidder on my left so it looked like I was bidding. But I wasn’t.

I made eye contact with the auctioneer and then looked at the birddog with a shrug and grin to auctioneer that implied, “You have a live one over there.” The birddog obliged and soon he bid the poor Frankenstein into the nether-regions of amateur ignorance.

Afterwards the birddog came directly to me while I was picking up my buy sheets, “Did you bid on that Saturn Steve?” I played dumb, “Yeah… but I got outbid. It’s hard to buy cars these days, huh!”

Do I feel guilty? Hell no! I will have one less competitor in my life come next Monday.

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3 of 12 comments
  • Ciddyguy Ciddyguy on Apr 15, 2012

    Steve, while I've not done any bidding myself, I've been to Gov't auctions where they sold of GSA vehicles as my late Dad bought several cars, mostly for himself over the years there and I went to a bunch of them. It's an interesting way to purchase cars and he's bought several good ones from the Gov't over the years, the last being a 1987 Plymouth Reliant that was, I think an Army service car (as it had that light army green paint) and was a basic 4 cyl model with AM radio and no AC, but with the automatic and I think the 2.2 for my middle sister, though some of them did have AC. His 83 Chevy Citation, also a Gov't auction car had AC, AM radio, and automatic and the 2800 V6. He stopped going after that Reliant as the bargains just weren't there anymore. Used to be if you bought a civil service GSA car, it had nothing but heat/vent, automatic, V6 or small V8, depending upon the car. Now, AM, if not AM/FM and/or AC are often found on these same vehicles. Also, when they had the 83 Citations, a bunch of them came with the 4Cyl's and manual transmissions, go figure on those. they weren't anything special, came in the usual Citation colors even, but that's the ONLY time I saw cars with something other than an automatic though that I know of, for what appeared to be for Civil Service use.

    • Omnifan Omnifan on Apr 16, 2012

      Most if not all of the GSA cars are now leased, so when they're pulled from service, whomever owns them will auction them.

  • SuperACG SuperACG on Apr 16, 2012

    YES THIS ANNOYS ME!! I am a photographer, and have had so many people follow me around just to try to get the same photo as me and post to Facebook or Twitter before I can! I am not a papparazzo, but I have gotten a few celebrities, and they are more receptive to me than the creepy birdogs. WOW, just reading this made my skin crawl...