While the chances of picking up a sound car at an actual bargain price at a car auction can be rated as slim to impossible, it does not mean that it hasn’t happened in the past. Car auctions occur every day throughout the UK and Europe, although the vast majority of cars up for grabs are pretty new- between two to ten years old.
It doesn’t mean that there won’t be a restorable car on the line, someday, somewhere that the owner has no real idea or interest of its value once it is restored. Anyone who is systematic enough to follow the inventories of car auctions might be lucky enough to pick up a bargain.
Although it really will be a “ needle in a haystack” scenario.
Theoretically, the easiest, and therefore most expensive way to acquire a classic car for restoration, is to attend specialist classic car auctions also organised frequently, usually in the midlands to the South of England.
Attending these auctions regularly is warmly recommended to anyone new to the world of car restoration. It is an invaluable means of gaining an idea of prices and values and getting a feel of the industry at close range.
Any inspections carried out will usually be under the supervision of a staff member and might even include a short trial run within the auction house area- especially if the vehicle has a medium to high value.
One of the biggest dilemmas that a bidder will face at a classic car auction is how to accurately assess the vehicle’s value as each classic car is unique, depending on its condition, and there is no paperwork available that can give that much of a guide- especially as repairs will inevitably need to be made.
For that reason alone, it is always worthwhile to home in on these auctions that hold a “target vehicle” with a fixed price in mind that must never be budged from- otherwise, the car could be priced out of the market before a single bolt has been loosened.
In the corona age there are even such options as online auctions- although it will take a very brave or knowledgeable restorer to make a successful bid and pick up a reasonable vehicle.
Some of the more reputable UK car auctioneers do allow potential bidders to view the vehicles on sale before the auction gets under way- although all bids are placed online- preventing the bidder all the noise and bustle that attending a car auction usually entails.
On the upside, online auctions are a virtual encyclopedia of car values for the beginner restorer, with dozens if not hundreds of vehicles from every spectrum on the industry on offer 24/7 with a number being sold.
By following the bidding and sale prices, which are published, a restorer can build up a data base of car values that should serve them well for the future.