How to buy a classic car at auction – with Quentin Wilson (CCA) –

How to buy a classic car at auction – with Quentin Wilson (CCA) –

Welcome to CCA’s guide to buying a classic
car at auction ah I hear you ask why buy at an auction? Surely it’s better to buy from
that little old lady with the 1959 Mini in the barn, well they are an endangered species
sadly. The great thing about classic car auctions is all the cars are in the one place so there’s
a time and opportunity cost saving, you don’t have to go trailing around the country looking
at over-described cars and you have certain legal safeguards as well old cars at these
auctions have to be described honestly and transparently and if there’s an issue over
the cars past, it’s ownership, the auction company checks all this stuff out so you don’t
have to so millions of people are buying old cars across the globe at auction but as with
anything old there are certain things you need to look for. so first the financials,
don’t come to a car auction thinking you’re going to have a lovely day out and if you
bid something and then change your mind, it doesn’t matter, it does. When that hammer
falls, and it’s your bid you own that car, you have a legal contract. With the auctioneer.
You’ve got to come with 2 forms of identity, to register to bid you’ve obviously got to
have the money in your account and you have to pay for the car if you are the winning
bidder within 24 hours and also remember that you’ve got to get the thing home, are you
going to drive it or are you going to have it transported? And the auction company can
help you with things like transport. Remember too that there’s a buyers commission on top
of the hammer price, so it goes down to you, you will then have to pay at this auction
six percent on top plus VAT on that six percent so you need to familiarise yourself with all
this stuff, it’s all in the catalogie and on the website but make sure you know what
you’re doing before you come and the best advice is to go to several car auctions, old
car auctions, before you actually stick that hand in the air. You also need to know that
the classic car market is in pretty rude health, in fact it has outperformed prime London residential
property, stocks and shares, gold, diamonds, fine wine, you name it. Some of these old
cars have gone up by four, five, six-hundred percent and carry on rising. This is a nineteen
eighty seven Mercedes 500SL I can remember when you could buy one of these and it wasn’t
long ago for maybe ten grand, now a few years later this car, I would be very surprised
if it doesn’t make twenty thousand pounds, so you’ve got this fantastic situation now
where people want physical assets like this, they don’t want stocks and shares , unit trusts
and equities, they want things that you can touch and you can trust so these cars are
going up. and the great thing about the classic car market is if you were to buy this car
for twenty thousand pounds now and then you kept it for three or four years and it goes
up to thirty thousand pounds you’re not taxed on that profit because the Inland Revenue
still see old cars as a wasting asset but before you get swept away with the love of
it all really take this seriously, do your research, do your homework. The great thing
about car auctions is that the car will appear in the auction catalogue and on their website,
weeks before it goes under the hammer so you’ve got a chance to check things out. Just putting
the registration number into Google can tell you lots of things, how much the car was last
sold for, it might be famous, it might be an ex road test or press car so little things
like that can tell you a lot and then when you get to the auction be a detective with
the history file, history files are really important, they show that someone’s cared
diligently for the car putting this all in plastic folders, this means this car has been
cared for and just leafing through it I can see it’s a 68 MGC Roadster it was originally
snowberry white, it’s had a colour change, it was restored a while ago and I’ve got MOT’s
going back to 1980 that start at 30,000 miles and it’s 51,000 miles and they go up according
to the mileage, so it’s very likely this car is a proper genuine mileage car so that’s
rare so this is a very important thing to have and when you come to sell your classic
having a thick, fat history file with old bills and MOT’s really does make it a prince
among classics. Mechanical checks you’ve got to do, you can’t drive a classic car at auction
but you can start it up, you can listen for ticking noises you can check for blue smoke,
oil burning blue smoke from the exhaust but if you don’t know anything about mechanics
then bring someone who does as classic cars are essentially just old second-hand cars
so you really do need to check them over carefully this is a very nice MGC! One of the really
important things to undertand with classic car auctions is originality and how to recognise
it this is a 1976 Daimler Sovereign 3.4 that has had one owner from new, and covered just
55,000 miles, and you look at this engine compartment and think there’s a few age related
marks, it’s a little bit scruffy, I wouldn’t want it what we’re buying here is this lovely
untouched, virgin, originality and that’s really, really, really precious you can see
that it’s just gently faded, it’s not been all spivved up and it’s shiny, so it’s a real
skill to be able to recognise an original car like this. I mean this is about five or
six grand’s worth but you’re buying the dedication of that one owner to have kept it like this
for all these years and that makes it special, that makes it almost timewarp so learn to
know what originality is and don’t confuse it with being just a tiny bit scruffy, this
is a very, very magnificent old XJ6. And finally, learn to spot the trends cause you can see
them, this is a 1985 Range Rover it’s the four-door now the 2 door Range Rovers the
ones from the early seventies have gone absolutely stratospheric 30, 40 some of them are making
a hundred grand, the very very early pre-production ones so you don’t have to be Carol Vorderman
to work out that this same shape car but with the four doors will start to go up when the
prices of those early Range Rovers get unaffordable. Now this is going to probably be about eight
or nine thousand pounds, it’s a forty four thousand, miler as well, lovely car in black
next year that could wll be worth fifteen thousand pounds, so you can have and this
is my significant point here, you can have a classic car fun, classic car ownership,
all those lovely classic car events being lit by your own personal spotlight as you
drive your old car around for free, you might even make a profit but at the very least,
you’ll probably get back what you’ve spent on your car if you bought it right when you
come to sell. Trust me people this is a wonderful opportunity do your research, go to a classic
car auction and come away with an asset that will go up not down.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. There are 2 types of classic people, one love the raising price and others who love the car. It's a bit sad that now the classic car business has been taken over by those who love the price, and it makes not only buying, but also owing one of them become pricey. I was lucky to have the chance to own an air-cooled Porsche 911 while it was still around 10K GBP something, but now even a clutch would cost me 600 GBP to buy. I understand that old things kept and raised it value over time, but should now this classic car business be a little bit unhealthy because it went up far too much.

  2. And you then have something that you really want to see through your window.
    Rather than the crossover suv whatever wart on wheels that you may now own.

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