I just spent a truly splendid day at a car auction. This was a proper Brit one with surly blokes and exhaust smoke and sarnies and not remotely like the cabaret show that Editor Hallett recently attended.
I was there in a professional capacity focusing on the really high end stuff, but I can confirm that stories of deserted auction houses and cars selling for 20p have been widely exaggerated. Despite it being the season that most of the car trade goes on a well-earned holiday, there was an impressively large turn out and lots of sexy cars for them to scrap over.
Never has it been more important to listen to what the auctioneer actually said as a glut of 911s came into view. Some were imports, others didn’t have V5s, the occasional one was sans history.
But then again, wouldn’t you be tempted to take a chance on a 2003 GT3 with a warranted 16K mileage for £34,300? Or, despite the girly gearbox, how about a 2003 Carrera 2 Tiptronic with satnav and everything for £25K? An identical import went for £22,900: 996s have never been cheaper.
The economic chill has been cooling convertible values, too. A 2001 XK8 ragtop with a warranted 27K miles went for £15,000 and a 2006 BMW 650i cabrio – still in warranty – was amazing value at £25K, less than half its new price. There were a whole slew of SLs too, with a 2003 SL500 with 19K miles fetching £24K being a typical example of how the mighty have fallen.
Okay, I’ll stop there. Much as I’d love to list them all, it may make you feel a bit quesy if you have just paid rather more retail money for something that’s not much better. And one word of warning, for all the appeal of prestige brand auctions, I recently had a conversation with a main dealer sales manager which went along the lines of “problem part exchanges? We always send them to auction, sold as seen.”
In the meantime, I still prefer to wallow in the cheap stuff. An S-plate BMW 525i with a towbar caught my eye for £1300, but I already had something in the carpark that starts first time.