Barrett Jackson Defines Collector Car Auctions

by Don Elliott on April 13, 2011

This past weekend, April 7-9, Barrett-Jackson featured some of “the world’s greatest collector cars” at their auto auction in Palm Beach, Florida. Several hundred cars and trucks were offered for prices that, in many cases, exceeded $100,000.

Were there any collector car deals? Maybe, depending on how much money you have and how well you understand the collector car market. Total proceeds at this 3-day event exceeded $18M so buying and selling was not for those unfamiliar with used car values.

There are several auction companies that specialize in collector car auctions besides Barrett-Jackson. They include Mecum Auctions (mecum.com), RM Auctions (rmauctions.com) and Russo and Steele Auctions (russoandsteele.com). All are social events that attract large crowds of the wealthy and hope to be wealthy car lovers from all over the world. But Barrett-Jackson has been the leader in collector car auctions for the past 38 years.

Attending a collector car auction is the first step if you would like know more about how the auto auction process works. Be prepared to pay $20-30 to just watch the auction. Auction programs cost from $10-15.

Registering to be a bidder will cost considerably more. At Barrett-Jackson in Palm Beach over the weekend, bidder’s “paddles” cost $200 whether you bought a car or not. With the bidder’s paddle, you also received admission for two to the auction, preferred parking, access to seating in the bidder’s area, hosted bar, invitations for two to the opening night party, an event program, and a vehicle showcase catalog.

In order to get your bidder paddle, you also have to prove the ability to pay a minimum of $30,000. With a $9,000 deposit, you can be pre-approved to bid up to $90,000. When you are the successful bidder, it is necessary to pay on the day of sale. Payment includes the auction block price, a buyer’s premium of 10-17%, fees and taxes.

A less expensive idea would be to watch your first sale live on SPEED TV (speedtv.com). Barrett-Jackson began airing its car auctions in 1997, the same year that they began live Internet bidding.

What was my favorite of the almost 400 cars that sold over the weekend? That would be the 1970 Olds 442 Convertible in Matador Red. What was the selling price? $150,000. Was it a good used car value? It probably was for the guy who bought it or he wouldn’t have bid. That is the way auctions work!

Tell us about your collector car and why you might attend a collector car auction.

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