Auction Fever

There are many ways to buy and sell a classic car, car dealer, classified ad and e-bay but perhaps the most intimidating is the auction.  For the uninitiated it can be a nerve racking experience.  To find out more we joined the bidders at the PCRS auction organised by Classic Car Auctions.

Most car auctions operate in a similar way though some terms and conditions and charges may be different.  Before you buy or sell at an auction you will need to check out the prospective auction house and familiarise yourself with all their requirements.

When I joined the other bidders, they were about half way through the lots.   It was almost a full house and along the edge were the telephone and proxy bidders.   I suspect that the majority of the business is carried out on line but you can’t beat the excitement of being there.

As soon as you take your seat you become very conscious of even the simplest of body movements for fear that you might accidentally make a bid.  In reality the auctioneers are very experienced and can tell the difference between an involuntary twitch and a bid.  Two auctioneers take each alternate car and rattle through them at great speed.  Watching them perform is very entertaining, even funny as they squeeze the bidders for every last pound.

Prices at auction can go in any direction.  There is no doubt that bargains can be had, especially if a collector is downsizing and doesn’t want to transport the car back home again.  But if you get two people wanting the same car then the price can rise beyond the market price, though of course the market price is what someone is prepared to pay.

There was a good variety of cars passing through whilst I was there.  A 1974 Lancia Fulvia 1.3 failed to sell but is available post auction for £8 650.   This is a one owner low mileage car but it was suffering from body rot.  It would make an excellent historic rally car following a full restoration.

This was followed by another Lancia, this time a modern Lancia Delta Integrale 16 valve.  It was imported into the UK in 2004 and had 47 000 miles on the clock.  It sold for a very reasonable £18 225.

Hot hatches from the 1980’s are booming at the moment and a very tidy Peugeot 205 1.9 GTI with 89 000 miles fetched £16 312.  A rarer Renault 5 GT Turbo with 70 000 miles pipped the GTI at £20 250.

Are you ready to take the plunge? You can bid in person by registering prior to the auction or alternatively you can bid by telephone, by leaving a commission bid or online on the auctioneers website. To comply with money laundering regulations, you will need to provide one proof of identification, such as a passport or drivers licence so don’t forget to take it with you if you plan to bid in person.

A commission bid is the maximum amount you are willing to bid up to (excluding the buyers premium and VAT). The auctioneer will then execute your bid as low as possible on your behalf.  Telephone bidding allows you to bid live during the auction. On the day of the sale, a member of the auction house will contact you, usually a few lots prior to your selected lots and will guide you through the process. You will need to provide alternative telephone numbers to ensure that they are able to contact you on the day. You can also leave a commission bid in the event that they are unable to contact you by telephone.

Online bidding may be available directly on the website (with no additional fee) as well as via a bidding approved partner who charge an additional fee of 1% plus VAT.

One of the most important things to understand is the final price that you will pay.  The hammer price is not the final price and you need to take this into account when you bid.  A buyer’s premium is charged at 12.5% +VAT on the hammer price.     Some lots may be VAT qualifying and subject to VAT on the hammer. Some lots may have been brought into the UK on a temporary admission and therefore import VAT will be due the hammer. These lots will be clearly marked in the catalogue.

Payments must be made in GBP, by bank transfer where possible. Payment can also be made in person by debit card (up to £20,000) and credit card (up to £5,000). Cash payments cannot be accepted.   Lots will only be released upon receipt of funds.

You will have only a limited time to collect your purchase and so you can bring a trailer or use the auction houses transport partner.  Driving the car is not really an option as it may not start after a period of storage and it will need to be both taxed and insured.

As the hammer falls a contract is made and you are obligated to proceed with the purchase. It is therefore vital that you are 100% sure before you make the final bid

Top tips:

  1. Sort your registration and bidding requirements in advance.
  2. Understand the additional charges that will be added to the hammer price.
  3. Before you go, pick the cars you are interested in and set a bidding limit.  Base your limit on research and additional charges including commission and VAT.
  4. Take a friend with you who will stop you overbidding.
  5. Sort out how you will make payment
  6. Work out how you are going to get your purchase home.

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