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Pros and Cons of Buying a Car at an Auction

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Where do most people get their classic cars?  Craigslist?  EBay?  Auto trader?  An ad in the local paper?  Word of mouth?  For sale sign and the car in the person’s front yard?  At an official dealer?  Not necessarily.  In fact, the majority of classic cars are bought and sold at classic car auctions.  This includes classic cars that are in pre and the post restoration stage.

Classic car auctions can be and are a great place to buy and sell classic cars.  The auction style and sort of old fashioned feel of an in-person auction is very appropriate to the buying and selling process of the car itself, and because of the auction nature of the sales process, cars can be gotten at a steal.

Keep in mind however that, just like with anything else, there can be and is pros and cons to buying and selling a car at such an auction.  A prospective buyer needs to keep this in mind, and understand what they are getting into when stepping into an auction.

There’s No Stable Price: Good and Bad

On the one hand, there’s not set price for the cars!  That’s excellent.  On the other hand though, there’s no set price for the cars!  That’s tricky.  This is probably the one factor about car auctions that goes back and forth a lot, and that can be both a pro and a con at the same time.

On the one hand, because there is no set price for the cars bought and sold at auction, a prospective buyer can hope to sneak in and grab a good deal on a favorite classic.  There are all kinds of tips and tricks to bidding at auctions that one can learn about, to get the upper hand on other bidders.  This is sort of the luster and the lure to buying cars at an auction, and understandably so too.  This is of course what everyone wants to experience.

However, like gambling at a casino, what everyone wants, isn’t always what everyone gets.  In fact, just as often the opposite occurs.  This is the real truth and the interesting situation in all of this.  Sometimes, things turn around and people end up getting caught up in the rush of bidding and spend altogether far too much on a classic car.  This same mentality is what has made eBay so famous and successful.  The simple truth of the matter is that, for everyone who got a steal on a classic car at an auction, there are about four or five other guys who overpaid for their respective cars at that same auction.  That’s just the way it is, and that’s the thrill of the experience of an auction.

Buying from a Dealer as Opposed to Buying at an Auction

For those who have an aversion for gambling and risk, buying from a dealer is a much safer option.  While one won’t necessarily get, “a steal”, one is also not going to overpay either.  One will get a good deal, but not a “great” one.  One also will not get in a bind and end up spending too much on a car.  Dealerships are often the best way to go because, not only are the cars very clearly priced, but the cars are backed up with warranties, product information, service records, detailed schematics of the car, etc., all of which are things that a private seller at an auction often can’t provide.

When it comes down to it, it really depends on personal preference as to which route to take.  Some will choose the auction, others won’t.  The important thing to remember is that there are both pros and cons to it.

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