Hot Rod Car Auctions - Going Once, Going Twice ... Sold!
3. Obtain expert help
If you liked this old '55...
If you liked this old '55 Jag XK140 custom, you could have taken it home for a mere $38,500. Built by Joe Wilhelm, Jag six-powered, with a Paxton supercharger for a dyno-proven 312-bhp, it won Pebble Beach trophies half a century ago, reportedly turned a 14.9 second, 98.68 mph, and it'd been stored for years.
It's OK to bring a restorer or knowledgeable friend with you. If you can't, seek out authorities who know that car or model and ask questions. The man standing next to you may be an expert who's just waiting to talk about the car. Inspect a car very closely before it goes over the block. Read all the display material. Check the car mechanically. Many auctions have independent diagnostic services on site. For a fee they'll examine the car and give you an evaluation. Get to the auction a few hours before the sale begins so you can look at cars and select the one(s) you want. If you can talk to the owner,
do so. If he (or she) will start and run the car for you that's even better.
Jay Leno, who has an impressive collection of cars and motorcycles, says, "Buy the owner, not the car." Leno tries to establish a rapport with a seller, evaluates what he says about his car, and can prove it. Then Leno judges the individual (as well as the car, of course) and makes up his mind.
Not long ago, decent stock...
Not long ago, decent stock Model 18 Deuces were $65,000-$75,000 all day long. Then you disassembled it, sold the unusable parts, and built a highboy. This DeLuxe roadster, a lovely restoration by early Ford expert Homer Ladd, brought $99,000. It's too nice to hot-rod (bet you never thought I'd say that). Both the buyer and seller made out fine.
Testdrive the car, if you can, and note any visible problems. If you don't feel qualified, retain an expert to help. Make a fair offer, bearing in mind any work that's needed. If you're bidding at a vintage car auction, know your limits and the car's real value so as not to overbid. Arrange for shipping with a reliable specialist transporter. When the car is in your garage, examine it closely again, and make any needed repairs before registering it and taking it on the road.
4. Always have a number in mind
Once you've made a bidding decision, know when "your" car is going to be offered for sale. Know what you want to pay and be ready to bid. Remember to add in auction company commissions and fees to get the full selling price. Stay within your limits. Use pre-bid time to pick up tips, talk with other bidders, and examine the car from every aspect. Remember, when a car is actually on sale, everything happens very fast. Look to see who's bidding. If you spot one of the high rollers discretely raising a paddle, consider bidding on another day.
There's a palpable tension in a live sale, so if you've never bid at major auction before, learn what it's like by bidding at a smaller auction, even a charity event, or on eBay at sale's end, so you've had practice bidding under pressure. With bid paddles waving, tensions mounting, the auctioneer shouting, and the price rising rapidly, it's no place for on-the-job training.
5. Work With the ringmen (and women)
Duke Hallock, a Fullerton...
Duke Hallock, a Fullerton High School student in the '30s, developed his own design V'd, split windshield, modeled after an Auburn Speedster. Molded and cast in Duke's high school shop class. They were used by several pioneer rodders.
Top auctions have ringmen (and women) stationed strategically in the bidding area. Find the closest one and identify yourself. Tell him or her the car you want to bid on. Be near them when "your" car comes up. Their job is to ensure your bid is recognized and to keep you on top of what's happening. They know who's bidding, they'll coach you on when to bid, and when to wait. They're wired into the auctioneer's platform, so if you don't hear the bid, or need a clarification, they'll get it. They WANT you to buy the car, so they're "sort of" on your side. Don't ever reveal how high you're prepared to go, but be alert and ready to bid. The ringman will tell you when it's your turn. Know where you want to start. Stay cool.
If the car fails to sell on the block, try to find the owner right away, along with an auction company representative, and negotiate a deal. (Tip: the owner is usually that sad-faced guy walking after his car). Both parties would prefer to sell that car, right there, right now, rather than ship it home, so both sides are willing to compromise on price and commission. And you'll be the winner.
Built by the Hot Rod Garage...
Built by the Hot Rod Garage in Denton, MD, this 350 Chevy-powered chopped Tudor, with Moon EFI, a 700-R4 Cinnamon metallic paint, 460-watt Sony stereo, and Halibrand-style wheels was estimated at $50,000-$75,000. The low $52,800 selling price wouldn't have been enough to build it. Another great deal at RM.
Have fun, but be prudent. Vintage cars have vintage brakes and steering, very few safety devices, and they may have long-distance limitations. Until your "new" car has proven itself on the road, be cautious.
With the strong interest we currently see in building and driving rods and customs, and the eligibility of hot rods and custom cars for Concours classes, SRP believes it's only a matter of time before prices begin to head upward again. Learn successful auction techniques, do your research, and be ready.
(Editor's note: If you need to ship your car to an auction company location, or you've just bought a car and want to ship it home, SRP has worked with and has had success with Intercity Lines (800-221-3936, www.intercitylines.com) or Reliable Carriers (877-744-7889, www.reliablecarriers.com).
Genuine '37 Ford roadsters...
Genuine '37 Ford roadsters (with snap-on windows) are scarce as hen's teeth. Ford made just 1,250 examples (and only 12 survived) before offering the car with roll-up windows. Restored years ago by Don Critesor, of Portland, OR, this green beauty should have brought much closer to its $100,000-$125,000 estimate. Instead, it found a new home for $74,800, which was probably less than the restoration cost. I'm amazed the owner let it go!
This delectable Deuce was...
This delectable Deuce was built from a Dearborn-winning original. Solid Henry steel, Stewart-Warner instruments, rare Kinmont disc brakes, Columbia two-speed rear, mohair interior ... you couldn't build this car for the $115,000 that John Mumford paid at RM's Monterey sale. Don't you wish you'd been there?
Chuck Daigh and Marvin Panch...
Chuck Daigh and Marvin Panch drove this Experimental Class Battlebird at Daytona in 1957. Packing a 400-bhp, Hilborn-injected 312 Y-block, mounted 6 inches rearward, a Jaguar four-speed, Halibrand quickie, modified everything, built by Jim Travers and Frank Coons (C-T Automotive), it was campaigned by ex-Indy winner, Pete DePaolo. A second Lincoln-powered Battlebird was destroyed, so if you wanted it, you needed $280,500. That was the low end of the estimate, but it sold.