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 VetteFinders.com.
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 process.
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 Mecum Auction.
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 purchased.
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 acceptable.
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 mark-up.
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!
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