My Car Quest

December 10, 2023

Training The New Guy At The Classic Car Auction Company

by Mike –

We are into the 2018 classic car auction season with the kick off in Arizona last week. It seems like an OK start but I thought there were not as many great cars as in years past. The sale of the Iso Grifo Prototype for $1.76 million at Gooding was a highlight.

Below is one of my attempts at humor which was originally published in March 2014.

All good humor has a basis in reality somehow and remember that classic car auction companies at their core are used car salesmen.

It is the responsibility of the buyer to do their own due diligence and the responsibility of the seller to describe the car as accurately as possible.

Used Cars - Kurt Russel

All photos below are by Mike Gulett and are real cars at one of the top auction companies in recent years in Monterey.

Scene: The Classic Car Auction Company has just transferred Sydney from finance to the Car Specialist Department (Sydney has been a huge car lover since he was a kid, at least that is what his company web site bio says – but they all say that). The president of the company, Oscar, is giving Sydney his first assignment.

Oscar: Come over here Sydney I want to show you the latest barn find that will be featured at this weeks auction. I am so excited about this barn find – look at that condition! That is original Ferrari rust on all of the bumpers, the moths have eaten the carpet, there is a mouse nest in the engine bay and oh, I could go on and on!

Can you imagine how this will look on TV? I love it! What a great find!

Sydney: Yes sir but this car really needs to be cleaned – I’ll get right on it.

Oscar: Don’t you dare! – That dirt is valuable patina and will attract bidders like flies to honey!

We would never clean an original barn find. This car is a time capsule that is original like it came from the factory. They are original only once and we have to sell it at the most money possible while it is still original – just this once!

Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America

Ferrari 275 GTB

Sydney: Sir, this car did not come from the factory covered in dirt, the paint falling off and rust on most of the metal parts!

This car has suffered from neglect by one or more previous owners. It needs to be cleaned and then restored properly or it will continue to deteriorate.

The catalog says this is a great candidate for a concours restoration? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

Oscar: So?

Sydney: Sir, I know I am the new guy but is an original, time capsule, only “original once” car really a candidate for a concours restoration? I mean wouldn’t the restoration destroy all of that valuable originality and patina?

Jaguar XK120 Drophead Coupe

Oscar: Oh, my boy I am afraid you may not be ready for the classic car auction front lines just yet. Why don’t you go back to the accounting department for now and sit this one out. We’ll talk again in Monterey.

Oscar: Excuse me gotta get this barn find ready – Sammy! – come over here and take this barn find out for a ride – I know it doesn’t run but take it out and push it around the nearest dirt field.

Sammy: Yes, sir – right away.

Oscar: Use a covered trailer – we don’t want any of the patina to blow off!.

Ferrari 250 GTE

Ferrari Logo

Let us know what you think in the Comments.



Aston Martin DB5

Aston Martin DB5

The expected rust

Ferrari 275 GTB Logo

Training The New Guy At The Classic Car Auction Company
Article Name
Training The New Guy At The Classic Car Auction Company
They are original only once and we have to sell it at the most money possible while it is still original - just this once!


  1. ~ !@!

  2. Just love the hype around “barn finds” my favorite descriptor is “restoration ready” why yes you get it all the mouse nest the dirt rust and everything for one bid… !:-)

  3. And yes I get that they are only original once but there is a difference between original and neglected, patina is not always a desirable thing, there is a line between patina and degradation and it is not all that fine a line at that in my book…” only repainted once 40 years ago”, yeah that is not original, interior or top in shreds, rusty wire wheels a knock offs, so what that it is the original stuff, its shot and does not always represent the image that the car presented when new… is it Rolls Royce silver or casket gray, guess it depends on if your buying or selling doesn’t it…and then theres re sale red… don’t get me started !:-)

  4. Philip Sarris says

    Rudy Russo is one of the best characters ever played by Kurt. Oscar material!

    This obsession with “barn finds” reminds of the mid-late 1970’s in Sonoma county where i was a budding contractor, and was also involved with buying and renovating a few properties.
    “Fixer uppers” are obviously homes that need work to make them livable and as the real estate market began to heat up and homes began to rise in price, more folks were forced to seek out “fixer uppers” as a way to afford ownership.
    And then “fixer uppers” became the hot item, so much so, that they began approaching the prices of homes that did not need any “fixing up”.
    Some years ago when the phrase “barn find” became so popular, that’s when I knew it was going to get upside down, inside out, and backwards!

  5. All of the car photos above are my photos from various auction previews in Monterey. I watched as the auction employees walked around and cleaned and dusted most of the cars so they looked their best. They were not allowed to touch these patina covered cars for any reason except to push them because most did not run. You can see in the photos some hand prints from pushing.

    The white Aston Martin was described in the auction catalog as,

    “Marvelous Character and Patina
    Ideal Candidate for a Concours-Quality Restoration”.

    And I thought – “isn’t the Marvelous Patina lost after the Concours-Quality Restoration?”

  6. Great read, thanks for sharing. Mike’s comments about the auction are very interesting as well.

Speak Your Mind