Currently reading: Visiting a car auction with a difference
We head down to The Market, an online classic car specialist with a showroom open to bidders

No Twitter, no Instagram and no Facebook. Minimum screen time. That’s the Goodwin way.

Obviously I can’t avoid looking at a laptop screen, because there’s no way I’m going to go back to using a typewriter; and I can’t not look at online classic car auctions on my phone, because I’m addicted. My day starts with a quick peek and ends with a look at what’s going under the hammer in the evening.

It started with Collecting Cars, but I’ve moved to The Market, because it doesn’t do personalised numberplates and Collecting Cars has too many Porsches and BMWs on it. The Market, I’ve found, has a more eclectic selection of cars.

It also has a premises at which you can view some of the cars, so if my enthusiasm turned from voyeuristic to actually wanting to make a bid, I could visit headquarters in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and kick some tyres.

The Market was founded five years ago and since last April has been owned by Bonhams. It lists its cars with a comprehensive suite of photographs taken by a professional snapper, plus a thorough description of the car written by a motoring journalist. In theory, whether the car is at the HQ or at its owner’s home, you will have a very good idea of what nick the object of your desire is in.

Apparently, 80% of winning bidders haven’t seen the car that they’ve bought. I’m not sure, after a lifetime of buying cars, that I could do that. But as an experiment, we’re at The Market’s showroom to have a look at what’s currently on offer and see if the written description and photo gallery really are accurate representations of the cars for sale.

94 The market auctioneer visit 2022 jaguar

There’s a 1984 Jaguar XJ6 I want to have a look at. It has done only 47,000 miles and looks very good in the photos; particularly under the bonnet, where there’s no sign of bodgery and the wiring looms look as they did when they left Browns Lane.

This XJ6 went under the hammer for £5302, and someone has got a very fine car for that money. But for me, that’s five grand that could have gone towards purchasing this exotic and supremely wonderful 1937 supercharged Cord. It has recently been sold, and some lucky person has picked up this rolling exhibition of art-deco glory for £60,000.

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In charge at Abingdon is David Hayhow, with the job title of lead consignment specialist. After training as a town planner, his career swerved in a different direction by first working at the organisation that runs Salon Privé and then for five years flogging flash motors at supercar specialist Joe Macari.Hayhow favours the 1990s hot Volkswagen genre and as such owns a Corrado VR6 and a Golf R36.

“We’re really busy,” he reports, “with a selling rate of 90% over the past two years.”

Hayhow says that the way to get results when selling a car through auction is to preferably set no reserve at all, and if you do, keep it low. His theory is that this creates interest in the car and triggers the bidding.

It’s all right for him to say that when it’s not his money, but I can see the logic. I haven’t bought many cars at auction, but when I have, I’ve usually got carried away and bid more than I had intended.

I’m slightly surprised that this 1973 Jensen Interceptor hasn’t sold. It got stuck at £45,000 and now is listed for a ‘buy now’ price of £40,000. It has a full history and zillions of bills but also a colour change, which might put many off.

87 The market auctioneer visit 2022 dodge engine

Those of you who know me well will guess that my eyes came out on stalks when I saw a bright-orange 1970 Dodge Challenger in perfect condition and fitted with a Hemi. I’ve seen it on a dealer’s website before. It isn’t live on The Market’s site yet, but many mornings are going to be spent watching the bidding.

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Hayhow tells me that they had a rush of Jaguar E-Types last summer, but today it looks like it’s Mercedes-Benz R107 season. There are four in here in varying conditions. One is a real snotter with serious rust all over the place but has gone under the hammer for £7301. I’m sure someone will regret that purchase unless it was bought for spares or to help another restoration. The Market’s description of the car was very honest and detailed, which does give one confidence in buying without seeing. As do the 397 photographs of the car that show all of the horror areas.

Part of the fascination of regularly scanning sites like these is that it gives an interesting picture of future trends. An unmodified two-owner Subaru Impreza P1 recently sold for £27,600, which is just shy of the money paid for a mint 1577-mile 2009 Maserati Granturismo S. I fancy the latter.

That’s the funny thing about this addiction: I would have driven the Maserati when it was new and it wouldn’t have made a huge impression, but now, as a barely used £29,000 exotic, it appeals.

It’s inevitable that this voyeurism is one day going to end up with something daft outside the house. Perhaps not a Cord, but there’s a very tidy Datsun 240Z about to go live on the site. I owned one in the 1980s and feel the dreaded pull of nostalgia.

83 The market auctioneer visit 2022 convertible

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Spicy bidding

I play a game with my friend and fellow journalist Richard Bremner that you might also enjoy. We pick a car before the bidding has started and guess what it will go under the hammer for. The loser has to buy a curry.

I’m a jalfrezi down, due to an overestimation of Sunbeam Tiger values, but there’s a MGB GT V8 on The Market, and I consider myself a bit of a boffin on these cars’ values, so I might well claw my way back.

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Add a comment…
uadert 28 November 2022

The ability to view items before purchasing is a fantastic idea, especially for classics. Almost often, in my experience, cars appear nicer in pictures than they actually do, and with older models, your nose and ears can even tell a story.


LP in Brighton 30 January 2022

This is a great idea being able to see before you buy - especially with classics. In my experience cars nearly always look better in photographs than in reality and with older models your nose and ears can tell a story too. But it's always interesting to see what some are prepared to pay for rare older models. Makes you realise that perhaps some of todays new cars are not so overpriced after all!