The Basics of Buying & Selling Corvettes at Auctions
BY: Bob Kroupa of Vette-N-Vestments
Thousands of pre-owned Corvettes are bought and sold each year,
and there are numerous ways to buy and sell that special Vette.
The traditional way to sell is to run a classified ad in the
local paper, a national publication or a web site such as
VetteFinders.com. We are biased, of course, based on the fact
that thousands of Corvettes have been sold through
Another popular source for buying selling Corvettes is auction
events. Although new to many, this source has been used for
years by automobile dealers. Recently, the auction process has
been opened to the public for buying and selling antique,
special interest and collector cars, including Corvettes.
You may recall from our previous articles that we frequently
mention prices of Corvettes that were bid or sold at auctions.
We attend all of the major Corvette auctions in the country.
For those who have not yet attended a Corvette auction, or may
be planning to attend one in the future, we thought this would
be an appropriate time to review the auction schedule and
There are basically two types of auctions where Corvettes can be
bought or sold. The first is by firms that specialized as a
full-time business in conducting antique, classic and special
interest car auctions. The world’s largest organization is
Kruse International. They conduct three or four auctions per
month. These are held in major cities across the US. They
consign a variety of automobiles that can range from a 1922
Model T Ford to a 1998 Corvette Pace Car.
Another national auction company, Mecum Auctions, specialized in
Corvettes, Street Rods, and Muscle Cars.
Normally a number of Corvettes are consigned at all of the
auctions. A listing of cars consigned is available prior to
auction. For information on auction schedules and other
information, consult the Kruse and Mecum websites.
The other type of auction is one that is scheduled in
conjunction with a Corvette show. There are currently two shows
scheduled each year that host an all Corvette auction. As
stated, we are at these auctions registering the specifics and
price of each Corvette that cross the auction block.
The two shows are the Bloomington Gold event that will be held
this year in St. Charles, IL (a suburb of Chicago) starting
Friday evening June 14th and continuing the next day, Saturday
June 15th through Sunday June 16th. Normally 400+ Corvettes
cross the auction block at Bloomington Gold.
The other all-Corvette auction is in conjunction with Corvettes
@ Carlisle in Carlisle, PA. This auction is scheduled for
Friday evening August 23rd and Saturday August 34th.
Both auctions are held by the Mecum Auction Company.
The role of the Corvette seller at auction is a relatively
simple process. It all starts with the seller consigning their
Corvette to the auction. This can be done in advance of the
auction by mail, or in person prior to the auction.
A number is assigned to the Corvette that indicates the order in
which the cars will cross the auction block. As a rule of
thumb, the prime numbers (mid-day) appear to bid higher than
early or late in the day numbers. A fee is charged for the
consignment and varies from $150 to $250 for consignment at a
Also, at these types of auctions, the seller must pay a
commission fee that is determined on a sliding scale. This fee
varies between $300 and $1,750. For cars over $50,000, the fee
is 4.5% of the sale price. Of course the commission is not
applicable if the Corvette does not sell, however, the
consignment fee is non-refundable regardless of whether or not
the Corvette sells.
As part of the consignment process, the seller of the Corvette
has the option of establishing a reserve price for their car.
The reserve price is to protect the owner from a bidder buying
the Corvette under market value should the bidding stop prior to
reaching the seller’s “reserve” price point.
On the day of the auction, the seller’s Corvette is generally on
display in a “staging” area so prospective buyers can view it
prior to the start of the auction. You will find buyers taking
detailed notes on the cars on which they plan to bid.
The seller of the Corvette is expected to be near the auctioneer
at the time the Corvette is auctioned. The seller has the
option of removing the reserve price during or at the conclusion
of the bidding. This allows the Corvette to be sold to the
highest bidder. Should the seller leave the reserve price on
the Corvette, and the bidding does not reach that reserve, the
Corvette is not sold and is driven out of the auction arena.
Conversely, a Corvette without a reserve price will be sold to
the highest bidder without any seller involvement.
After the auction, non-sold Corvettes are parked in a designated
area, and the seller has the option of selling the Corvette to
any interested party at a price that the owner establishes
without any additional auction company involvement.
Should the Corvette be sold in the auction arena the seller is
paid by the auction company. The seller is expected to have
clear title to the Corvette when it is brought to auction.
The buyer’s role is a bit more simple when becoming involved in
the auction process. It all starts with the bidder registering
for a bidder’s number. There is generally no fee for a buyer’s
bid number, but a Buyer’s Fee may apply if a Corvette is
At all auctions, the buyer is expected to have certified funds.
These are defined as cash, cashier’s checks, traveler’s checks
or personal/company checks backed by an irrevocable bank letter
stating the amount covered by the check. Drafts are not
The buyer normally inspects the Corvette in the staging area,
and in some cases, may be able to drive the Corvette a short
distance – less than a block (this is due to space
constraints). In the auction arena, the buyer can bid at will
on any Corvette. The auctioneer sets bid standards, and bids
are normally in $100 increments. If the buyer is the highest
bidder and the bid exceeds the reserve price or the owner
removes the reserve price, the buyer becomes the new owner and
is expected to pay for the Corvette. The Corvette is sold on
an “as is” basis with no guarantee or warranty.
Purchasing a Corvette at auction is an exciting venture, and you
may even find yourself bidding against a Corvette dealer.
Should that be the case, and you get the high bid, you may have
bought a Corvette at the right price and eliminated the dealer
Should you be an out-of-town buyer, transportation, including
hauling firms, is usually available to transport your newly
acquired Corvette to its new home.
In conclusion, we expect a considerable amount of auction action
this year, which is normally the case in a downturn economy. We
plan to provide you with summary results from the Bloomington
Gold Auction next month. Happy Bidding!
Return to Corvette 101