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Every year, approximately nine million automobiles find new owners via auction house sales. These auctions can vary greatly in terms of the number of employees, size of the auction, the land area involved, and the services they offer.
It's an engaging hobby that offers participants enjoyment, opportunities for lasting relationships, and of course, the chance to get your dream car or collector vehicle!
Whether it's famous collector car auction houses , classic car auctions, or regular car auctions, each one presents unique offerings in terms of vehicles at your disposal at various important car events. You can even have them shipped!
If you've ever dreamed of collecting cars or attending high-profile car auctions, here's your mega of 15 classic car auctions any diehard collector goes to.
The Barrett-Jackson auction company is often hailed as one of the world's renowned classic car auctions and collector car auctions in the United States. They were even featured on the History Channel. Their flagship event is held annually in Scottsdale, Arizona, typically in January. It's known for its extensive inventory of classic vehicles, from classic and antique models to modern supercars.
Besides cars, they also auction off automotive memorabilia. The auction house is also televised, allowing those who can't attend to still enjoy the show. Apart from Scottsdale, Barrett-Jackson also holds auction house events in Palm Beach, Las Vegas, and other locations.
Founded in 1971, Barrett-Jackson has become one of the most recognized names in the world of classic car and collector car auctions. The company was established by Tom Barrett and Russ Jackson, who were both passionate car collectors.
Barrett-Jackson auctions cover a broad spectrum of vehicles, from classic and vintage models to modern supercars and concept cars.
Notably, the auctions also include a charitable component, with special vehicles often auctioned to raise funds for different causes. Over the years, Barrett-Jackson has helped raise millions of dollars for charity through these auctions.
Over the years, Barrett-Jackson has developed a reputation for hosting high-energy, high-profile auctions. Their events are about more than just selling cars; they're also social events where enthusiasts can come together to share their passion for automobiles.
RM Sotheby's is a highly prestigious collector car auction house that attracts a high-end clientele, with many vehicles going for millions of dollars. The company is known for its rigorous selection process, meaning only the most exclusive and well-preserved cars make the cut. Their most expensive car sold was the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR “Uhlenhaut Coupe” which closed for $142 million.
It is the collector car auction house for the most meticulous of buyers looking for the rarest classic cars. Called the official auction of the rich for their continued high-dollar sales. RM Sotheby's often holds auctions in different locations, with a prominent event during the Monterey Car Week in California.
RM Sotheby's is a premier auction house for investment-quality automobiles. Noted as one of the best in the world. The company was originally founded as RM Auctions in 1976 by Rob Myers. In 2015, it formed a strategic partnership with Sotheby's, one of the oldest and most prestigious auction houses globally, to become RM Sotheby's.
Buyers and sellers are drawn to RM Sotheby's due to their reputation for professionalism and their record of successful high-value transactions. The partnership with Sotheby's has further enhanced the company's prestige and global reach in the collector car auction market. RM Sotheby's plays a significant role in defining market values for classics, especially at the top end of the market.
The Mecum auction company is known as the largest of the collector car auctions in the world, conducting more than a dozen auctions annually. The auction is known for its wide variety of rare classic cars, motorcycles, tractors, and even boats. Mecum has also established themselves as a leading event for not only for collector cars, but vintage and antique motorcycles as well.
One of the most famous Mecum Auctions is the annual event in Kissimmee, Florida, which lasts for almost two weeks and includes over 3,000 vehicles.
The Mecum auction company, established in 1988 by Dana Mecum, is the world's largest collector car auction company. It specializes in the sale of antique, vintage, and classics, but you'll also find a variety of other vehicles on offer, including motorcycles, boats, and even tractors. Mecum broke the world record for the most expensive cars sold 2022 at a single auction for $217 million. That a lot of dream car fulfillment right there!
Mecum's commitment to transparency in their collector car events and dedication to providing a fair and honest platform for buying and selling cars has earned it the trust and loyalty of many enthusiasts and collectors. Whether you're a first-time buyer or an experienced collector, Mecum Auctions offers something for everyone.
Gooding & Company conducts auctions in several locations, but the most fasmouse are held in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Pebble Beach, California. Of the best collector car auctions out there, this company is known for selling some of the most rare and expensive cars sold in the world, many of which fetch multi-million-dollar bids.
Gooding & Company is a highly one of the most renowned car auctions, known for dealing with some of the world's most significant and valuable classic cars. It was established in 2003 by David Gooding, a former president of RM Auctions, and is based in Santa Monica, California.
Gooding & Company is known for its commitment to quality over quantity. Their auctions might not feature the hundreds of cars seen in some other large auctions, but each vehicle is carefully curated for its significance, provenance, and condition.
This dedication to quality is one of the reasons Gooding & Company has achieved numerous world-record auction prices. They notablly sold a 1935 Duesenberg Model SSJ Convertible for a smashing $22 million !
Bonhams is an international auction house founded in the UK, but its U.S. automotive auctions, particularly the ones in Scottsdale, Arizona, and during the Monterey Car Week, are well-attended. They auction off a diverse range of valuable vehicles, from classic and vintage to modern supercars.
Bonhams is a British auction house founded in 1793, making it one of the oldest and most respected in the world. It offers a range of sales services in various collectible fields, including fine art, jewelry, and antiques. In the world of automobiles, Bonhams has carved a significant niche for itself, becoming a leading automotive auction venue for classic, vintage, and collector cars.
Their most notable auction was for a1962 Ferrari 250 GTO put it up for bid that sold for 38.12 million.
Presently, the 1904 Rolls-Royce 10 hp Two-Seater holds the record in the Guinness World Records for being the priciest veteran car ever sold. This significant sale occurred at a Bonhams auction in Olympia, London, on December 3, 2007. The car fetched a price of $7,254,290, which is equivalent to $10,613,783.88 when adjusted for inflation in 2023.
Russo and Steele offer a more intimate setting for its auctions, with a "cars in the round" format that puts buyers up close to the cars. Their main event is held annually in Scottsdale, Arizona, but other auctions occur in Newport Beach, California, and Monterey, California.
Russo and Steele’s focus is on more than just high-dollar, ultra-rare collector cars. They aim to offer a range of vehicles that appeals to a broad array of enthusiasts, with cars that are accessible to different levels of collectors.
Carlisle Auctions is part of Carlisle Events, which hosts several classic and collector car shows throughout the year. Their flagship event is the Spring Carlisle Auction held in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. They offer a broad range of vehicles from various eras, making it a favorite for diverse car enthusiasts.
Carlisle Auctions is a company known for its collector and classic car auctions. Carlisle Events was founded in 1974 by friends Bill Miller and Chip Miller (no relation) and has become a significant presence in the automotive event and car show industry.
Auctions America, owned by RM Sotheby's, is another significant player in the classic car auction scene. Their events, such as those held in Auburn, Indiana, often feature a vast array of collector cars, trucks, and motorcycles. They are known for offering a mix of vehicles that can appeal to both entry-level collectors and seasoned car enthusiasts.
Worldwide Auctioneers host a number of auctions throughout the year, with The Scottsdale Auction in Arizona being one of their major events. They have a reputation for curating high-quality and rare collector cars.
GAA Classic Cars auction, located in Greensboro, NC, is known for its large-scale, three-day events held several times a year. The auction showcases a broad variety of vehicles, including classics, memorabilia, and unique models. It's notable for its climate-controlled, enclosed auction arena that offers comfort for attendees.
Bring a Trailer (BaT) deserves a mention as well. While it doesn't operate as a traditional physical auction, it has quickly become one of the most popular online platforms for buying and selling classics.
This online auction site started in 2007 as a blog that highlighted classic cars listed on other websites. By 2014, BaT had transitioned into its own auction site and has since grown exponentially in popularity. The site's name derives from the term "bring a trailer," often used in the classic car world when a vehicle is not drivable and needs to be towed.
BaT's popularity stems from the broad range of vehicles it lists, from affordable classics to high-end collector cars. It has become renowned for its knowledgeable and passionate community. The comment section under each auction serves as a platform for discussion about the listed vehicles, often providing deep insights into the model's history, value, and desirability.
A unique aspect of Bring a Trailer is its curation process. Not every car submitted gets listed for auction. The BaT team reviews each submission and selects the most interesting vehicles, ensuring a diverse and high-quality selection of cars.
While the other auctions mentioned are primarily events held in specific locations at specific times, BaT operates continually, with new auctions starting and ending every day. It's a perfect venue for those who prefer the convenience of online shopping but still want a communal, enthusiast-focused platform.
eBay Motors is another significant player in the online automotive sales space. While not strictly an auction site for classics, eBay Motors has proven itself as a vast marketplace where users can buy and sell a wide variety of vehicles, including classic, vintage, and collectible cars.
One key difference between eBay Motors and a site like Bring a Trailer is the lack of curation. Any user can list a vehicle for sale on eBay Motors, resulting in a much broader variety of listings in terms of quality and price. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage—it means more choice, but also requires potential buyers to be more discerning.
eBay Motors offers two main types of listings: auction-style and Buy It Now. Auction-style listings work just like the main eBay platform, where users bid against each other until the auction ends. The highest bid at the end of the auction wins. Buy It Now listings allow users to bypass the auction process and purchase the vehicle outright for a set price.
Auction listings often start at a low price and have a set duration, usually between 1 and 10 days. The competitive nature of the bidding process can be exciting and can sometimes result in excellent deals, but it also introduces an element of uncertainty—you might not know whether you've secured the vehicle until the last seconds of the auction.
eBay Motors provides a variety of tools and features designed to help buyers make informed decisions. This includes detailed vehicle history reports and buyer protection programs. Despite this, it's always advisable to conduct your own research or inspection when possible, especially for higher-value classics.
Overall, eBay Motors is an expansive platform that offers something for everyone, from the casual buyer to the serious collector. It doesn't provide the same sense of community as Bring a Trailer, nor the spectacle of a physical auction, but its convenience and vast selection have earned it a crucial place in the automotive sales landscape.
Copart is an online vehicle auction platform that primarily deals with used, salvage, and impound vehicles. Its business model is geared towards vehicle remarketing, serving various clients such as insurance companies, banks, finance companies, fleet operators, dealers, the general public, and more. Copart was founded in 1982.
The inventory is quite diverse, from repairable cars and trucks to all-terrain vehicles, boats, and even exotic vehicles. Despite not being a classic car auction per se, classic car enthusiasts can find older models that could serve as a restoration project.
However, potential buyers should keep in mind that many vehicles are sold as-is and might require substantial work or be purchased for parts. You will also need to use a shipper to not pay their high delivery fees.
IAA is another online auto auction platform similar to Copart. It specializes in the sale of light damaged and total-loss vehicles. Its clients include auto insurance companies, car dealerships, fleet lease companies, and rental car companies.
The vehicles sold through IAA range from damaged vehicles deemed a total loss, to used and salvage titled vehicles. Again, while IAA isn't a classic car auction, enthusiasts and restoration hobbyists might find unique older models up for bid.
Both Copart and IAA have made purchasing more accessible to the public by offering bidding and buying vehicles online. Their platforms can be used from anywhere, offering a wide variety of vehicles at various price points.
It's crucial for potential buyers to understand that many of these vehicles come with salvage titles and may need significant repair work. Therefore, they should be comfortable with the potential risk and investment required in terms of time, money, and effort. You will likely also need to get a transporter that goes to IAA to not pay their high delivery fees.
Each of these classic car auctions has a unique vibe and selection of vehicles, but all contribute significantly to the classic car scene in the United States and around the world.