QOTD: Witness to Auction Shenanigans?

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Over the weekend at Monterey, RM Sotheby’s executed what will forever remain one of the worst screw-ups in auction history. With a piece of is-it-or-isn’t-it Porsche history on the block, the auctioneer started his patter at what the crowd (and the media screen) thought was thirty million dollars. That same media screen quickly rocketed to seventy mil before said auctioneer clarified he was saying seven-teen not seven-ty. Boos rained down upon the room and bidding predictably evaporated like chloroform. The car failed to sell.

Conspiracy theorists will forever debate what really happened, but our question for you today is this: what’s the biggest error — either in buying or selling — you’ve ever seen at a car auction?

Some are murmuring the house got caught in a dangerous game, one which allegedly happens at auctions across the nation. An auctioneer, eager to bump the price of a car, takes bids from the Coke machine at the back of the room when there is in fact only a single human bidder. This is bad at the thousand-dollar beater level, let alone at the rarified stratosphere in which this event was playing. We are not implying that happened this weekend.

As for purchase blunders, your author watched a former editor of this esteemed publication raise his hand at the sum of $250 for a knackered Ford Focus whose rear suspension was hanging at angles not approved by Blue Oval engineers. This, despite the obvious fact that no other human was marching in the vehicle’s direction and he could’ve bagged the car for $50. It should be noted this particular house had a proclivity for slapping outrageous fees on sale prices, so the Focus ended up costing nearly five hundred bucks out the door. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life.

How about you? What mistakes (on either side of the gavel) have you witnesses in the auction lanes?

[Image: RM Auctions, Inc.]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Aug 20, 2019

    Can't think of a good one involving the auctioneer but do have a funny anecdote. Jason and I were walking through lane one at BAA admiring all the high end Eurotrash in the summer of 2005. Coming up was a silver S-Klasse S55, I think an MY03. As the car approaches us, Jason points to the hood near the ornament and says "what the hell is that?". I look and at first I didn't see anything, but in the right light yes there was slight paint fading after the ornament but not on the front of the hood. I looked at him and said, someone must have had a bra on this and parked it frequently in the sun. Several other bidders overheard this and all gathered in for a view. I looked at Jason and nodded let's get out of here and we quickly skedaddled down to our normal lanes where the cheap stuff ran. I'm not sure who was selling that day, but Jason easily cost them several grand on a bid if not a no sale by pointing out the paint flaw.

  • -Nate -Nate on Aug 20, 2019

    I used to buy 'builders' from fleet, government and impound auctions, the dishonesty the sellers do will curl your toes . No matter what, never pay over scrap value for an auction vehicle, /BT, DT, for pinched every time by hidden defects or damages . -Nate

  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three
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