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Should You Sell Your Vehicle at a Classic Car Auction?

Do you have a classic car sitting proudly in the garage? It might have been your pride and joy for a long time but now the time has come to sell it and move on. You might need the money for something important, or perhaps the car has reached a peak in value and there’s no more point hanging onto it as a further investment. Whatever your reasons, you’ll have multiple channels through which you can sell the vehicle, the fastest of which would be a classic car auction.

However, for reasons we will go into in more detail below, we are here to make the case against classic car auctions and advise you why you in fact should not sell your car this way.

Why People Think Classic Car Auctions are Good

First, let’s get some background on why people think that selling their car at auction is a good idea in the first place.

Convenience and Speed

It’s hard to deny the speed and ease of an auction sale. Once the car is listed, reserve prices are agreed, you just need a date for it to go under the hammer and chances are it will sell and then you’re done. The auction house helps deal with all the paperwork and the entire transaction is over without having to worry about advertising, viewing, or test driving.

Better Price

By and large, auctions will bring in better prices than you’d get by selling a car to the dealership, which attracts many to selling at auctions. Of course, for classic cars, dealerships aren’t often an option since classic car dealerships are rarer.


Reputable auction houses lend a sense of grandeur and occasion to proceedings and can sometimes reassure sellers that the buyers that come forward are legitimate. When selling privately it is sometimes hard to filter out the time-wasters. Auctions often attract some really serious and solid buyers who come with the express purpose of buying items they’ve already viewed in a catalog, or what they see and love while visiting the auction.

Reality: Why You Shouldn’t Use Car Auctions for Your Classic Car

In fairness, the benefits that we described above for auction are generally valid. It’s not to say that there are no redeemable features of classic car auctions, but rather that, on balance, they are not ideal for the private seller. Here’s why:


Even if you get an apparently better price at auction than you might even get from a classic car dealer, you still then have to contend with fees like the commission, which can be anywhere from 15 to 50 percent of the sale price depending on your price point. If your classic car is especially valuable and will fetch a strong price, your commission would be lower, but you still have to hand over a quite big chunk of change. 

It’s Just a Commodity to an Auction House

Whatever their marketing pitch says, at the end of the day your beloved classic car is just another commodity to an auction house. If you want to get the best possible deal, you should sell the car directly to people who both understand and appreciate the asset that you have in that car. It’s not just about getting a better price --- which you will --- but also about getting a better feeling that your car is going to the right place. Even more effective than taking the time to sell directly on your own, would be to work with a classic car consignment dealer. This style combines the convenience and reliability of an auction house, but reduces the commission and ‘commodity mentality’. 

At an auction, you are totally blind as to why people might be interested in buying the car. Heaven forbid, they might just want it to strip it down for parts to use in a restoration project they are doing.

You Can Sell “Harder” Outside of an Auction House

When selling privately to a fellow enthusiast, or when talking to a special interest vehicle dealer, you can take your time to pitch your car in the right way. You can introduce the various aspects of care that you have employed to ensure that the paint and other features are properly taken care of. In addition, you can demonstrate the condition of the engine, suspension and drivetrain, as well as point out the preserved original features...the list goes on.

In other words, you can really work the sale to try and get the best deal. That ability to properly express what’s great about the car is better for getting the optimum deal. Other ways will always leave you short, especially a classic car auction. As previously mentioned, at GR Auto Gallery, we believe that selling your vehicle online through consignment is the most effective way to ensure fairness in the process. If you want to learn more about how we can make you the most money for your special-interest car, contact us today!