by Mike –
The 2014 classic car auction season kicks off in a few days in Arizona and will move to Amelia Island, Florida in March. This is the time of the year many car collectors think about buying a new obsession.
As a potential buyer at a classic car auction it can be easy to fall into the trap of buying a car that we may later regret buying. It is difficult to perform a proper inspection at an auction and test drives are not the norm.
Buyers are in a position where they have to trust the integrity of the auction company, or not bid.
Can we trust classic car auction companies? That is the question.
How much due diligence do auction companies perform before they accept a consignment and before they write up the car description for their catalog?
Is the chassis number authentic? Has the car really had a “nut and bolt” restoration? Is the documented history of the car accurate? How much of the original racecar was replaced with new body panels and other components after that major racing accident decades ago – or several accidents?
These questions, and many more, can be difficult to answer before it is time to start bidding. But you must try and get as many answers as you can. The answers may cause you to not bid or to bid more aggressively. The answers certainly will impact the price you are willing to pay.
You can protect yourself somewhat. Do your homework on the car of interest before the auction and I suggest due diligence on the auction company as well. Ask your friends who may have knowledge and read about the history of the auction company in question. The more you know the better a decision you can make.
Dirt is not patina – it is dirt and maybe grime – but not patina.
Don’t forget – dirt is not patina and rust is not an asset no matter what the auction catalog says. Dirt and rust are the result of neglect by previous owners.
The dirt on this Ferrari above was not removed by the owner or auction company and the auction company employees who were cleaning every other car were not allowed to touch the dirt on this Ferrari.
Rust is technically patina – however it is damaging patina – an indication of poor care by previous owners.
The rust on the bumpers below is real Aston Martin rust. However, if previous owners allowed this beautiful Aston Martin to deteriorate like this what else did they neglect that you can’t see?
If you decide to bid set a maximum bid and be sure to calculate in the auction commision plus other costs such as transportation.
Then do not go over that maximum bid because in the heat of the moment and the excitement of the auction atmosphere, which is fueled by the auction company, other attendees and other bidders, it can be easy to go over your limit of what you think the car is really worth.
Back to the question, can we trust classic car auction companies? I think we can trust some classic car auction companies just like everything else in life.