Nothing lasts forever, and it seems that after the latest round of car auctions, maybe the street rod bubble that had many people feeling warm and fuzzy for the past few years has finally burst.
Car auctions are a lot like rolling the dice in Vegas. Sometimes you're hot, sometimes not, but you can count on the fact that you are usually the last one to know it if you're not. The past six years have seen prices inching (and sometimes leaping) higher and higher and folks in the know stand back and shake their heads as mediocre cars sell for four times what they're really worth. The high-dollar count is exciting to both participants and viewers, and that frenzied excitement is the key auction organizers count on.
The smell of money is what attracts buyers and sellers to the show, but the days of $300,000 roadsters crossing the auction block may thankfully be over. An argument could be made that it screws up the market for the rest of us when those high-dollar cars sell for that much. But a different argument could also be made since there are some well-built cars out there trading for fair money. However, when someone buys a 1-800-type roadster for $200,000 that anywhere else would bring half that amount, the only person winning in that situation would be the seller.
STREET RODDER sampled some of the car auctions that were held at the beginning of the year to get an idea of what was out there for sale, and for how much they were selling. We were a bit surprised (and relieved) the prices seem to be, on the average, a bit lower than the past few years. But we also noticed not as many high-profile cars crossed the block this time around, many of which were responsible for astronomical selling prices in the past years.
The key to buying or selling a car at an auction is to check current selling prices of like vehicles in the area in which you live. If you're selling a car, you should be willing to take your car to another part of the country where those cars seem to be selling at higher prices. You can probably buy a Model A sedan for a lot less in Indiana than in Arizona, so do some research.
Also, check to see if the auction only accepts cars on reserve. In these instances, a seller can put a reserve on his car, which is an agreed-upon price between the auction company and the seller that car much reach before it is sold. If it doesn't meet the reserve, the seller takes it home (after paying all the required fees the auction house tacks on). If it meets or exceeds the reserve, the seller says goodbye to it and drives home with an empty trailer (after paying all the required selling fees the auction house tacks on).