Desperate for that post-lockdown car fix but bored of frothy festivals and concours catwalks? You need to take yourself to an auction. But not a corporate event drowning in branding and stuffed with ranks of ex-lease hacks; rather an old-school set-up with real motors, real bidders and coffee you can stand your spoon in. Just like Cannock Motor Auctions.
It’s located almost bang in the middle of England, so most will be able to make its popular 11am Saturday sale in no time via the web of nearby motorways. If it isn’t too much hassle, pop over on Thursday or Friday to see if there’s anything that takes your fancy.
Autocar dropped in on the first Saturday in September to experience Cannock’s third post-lockdown auction. Naturally, everybody had to don masks and stand outside the sales hall as, also outside, the cars went one by one under the hammer, but the new arrangements did little to dampen the enthusiasm.
And why would they? Frankly, nothing’s as interesting as an old bargain motor. What’s more, when you’ve got 70 of them (mainly bread-and-butter cars leavened by some BMWs and the odd SUV) in one place, that level of interest is keen but also friendly, possibly because the financial stakes are so low.
At most of Cannock’s sales (in addition to Saturday, there’s one on Tuesday), hammer prices range from £150 to £900, with many cars selling for around £400. Everything is sold as seen. The cheapest on the day we visited was a 2008 Citroën Xsara Picasso 1.6 Desire with 96,000 miles that went for £140. Among those nudging the upper price band was a 2007 Nissan Qashqai 2.0 Acenta with 88,000 miles that went for £1450.
Our favourite? We were torn between a bright 2003 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 5dr with 81,000 miles that made £450 (the most recent MOT, viewable on the official MOT history website, noted corroded brake pipes and worn suspension bushes) and a nice 2007 Saab 9-3 Convertible 2.0 Linear with a powered hood and 85,000 miles that sold for £1025 (no steering lock noted on its current MOT record).
Aside from grabbing a bargain, the reasons people come to Cannock are to escape the modern world of internet bidding, suited traders glued to their phones and, that scourge of big-name auctions, sky-high fees.
On that latter point, sellers are charged an entry fee of £15 plus 6% commission on the sale price, with a minimum of £36. Buyers pay a £35 indemnity fee (it’s a surety that the vehicle is HPI-clear to sell) on cars costing up to £500 and £5 every £300 beyond that. It means that a car that sells for £350 would cost just £385 including charges.
“Fees at Cannock are very low,” said Steve, a casual trader who has been coming to the auction for two years, in which time he has bought 20 cars, among them just one ‘lemon’. “You can easily pay £200 at larger places, and on some sales you’ll pay more in fees than you will for the car itself.”