When Karl Benz mounted a gasoline powered engine to a buggy-like contraption in 1885, he started a transportation craze that has come to dominate the business world today. Cars have become more than just transportation, with some people they have become a passion, an obsession. Whether it is classic cars, muscle cars, sports cars, race cars, performance cars or elite luxury barges, mankind loves their automobiles. What is your dream car; a D-type Jaguar, a Ferrari GT 250 Berlinetta, a chopped-and-channeled ’29 Ford Roadster with a small-block V-8 or a classic muscle car from the sixties? How about an original 1966 Shelby Cobra 427, or a 1965 Mustang with a high-performance 289 CID V-8, or maybe just a 1949 Mercury Coupe? Whatever your dream car, there are a number of ways to find one to suite both your lust and your budget.
Classic car auctions have become big business and a huge attraction, so much so that they are even televised events, often coupled with elite car shows like Pebble Beach or Amelia Island. The major classic car auction companies’ names have become synonymous with big automotive events: Barrett & Jackson, Russo & Steele, Kruse International . . . Some of these auctioneers have gala, televised sales events that pull in millions of dollars for a wide variety of classic, celebrity and collector cars. The January sale held by Barrett & Jackson in Scottsdale, AZ, grossed about $68 millions in which they sold 100% of the cars that were consigned; 1,185 total lots.
A search of the websites of classic car auction companies reveals that you may determine when and where is their next sales event, what cars have been consigned, how to become a bidder and the cost of admission. You may also purchase a pictorial catalog of consigned vehicles and arrange for a private sale. Some of the premier auction company websites include:
- Barrett & Jackson
- Kruse International
- RM Auctions
- Russo & Steele
- Gooding & Company
- Silver Auctions
In addition to these big-name auction houses, there are many smaller, regional companies who specialize is specific types of classic and collector cars: Sports cars, muscle cars, Italian sports cars, British cars, German cars and just about any other sub-category you can imagine. If you are operating on a more limited budget, local and regional auctioneers may be the best bet for locating your dream car. For the big-budget folks, the attendance at one of the big, star-studded classic car auctions is more than just a sale, it is a giant car-party at which you may rub shoulders with celebrity car collectors like Jay Leno.
Whatever your dream-car, classic car auctions may be the best way to locate, evaluate and purchase this gem. Most of the vehicles that pass through the major car auctions are fully-restored “garage queens,” but sometimes there are unrestored classics in remarkable condition, with a patina that only adds to their value.