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Why sniping doesn’t always work and other myths busted over auctions listings for classic cars

Time 1 year ago

Sniping is a thing of the past and more people are likely to bid when you’re selling your classic car on an online auction if there isn’t a reserve.

That’s according to latest research into auction trends from Car & Classic, which also found that beginning with a low price doesn’t mean your car will sell for more or less than if it had a higher starting price.

Data analysis by Europe’s biggest classic car classified website and now auction platform has exploded some of the myths of how listings can affect the way we bid.


Unlike with other platforms, sniping – or bidding at the very last second – isn’t possible on Car & Classic as any last-minute bids will actually lengthen the auction time, giving other people the chance to make an offer.

Tom Wood, chief executive of Car & Classic, said: ‘There’s no witchcraft when it comes to buying a car at auction. Bidding at a certain time doesn’t guarantee you’ll win, and a listing being set up a certain way doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily be a bargain.

‘However, these factors clearly make us feel differently about the auction and can impact the way we bid.

‘The theories might not be right but understanding them can help those selling their cars to make informed decisions from the very start.’


Car & Classic’s top six myths about selling and buying on an online auction

1: Cars with a low starting price sell for more
A low starting price doesn’t typically affect the final sale price of a classic car for better or worse. All cars start at £0 on Car & Classic, which has made little or no difference to the closing price.

2: Sniping is the best way to win
Nipping in at the last minute to try to outbid others is impossible at Car & Classic Auction, because after each bid is placed the other bidders are allowed some more time so they can choose if they want to increase their offer.

3: Rare cars get higher bids
Scarcity doesn’t always equal high value – it’s the following of the car that’s much more important. Car & Classic Auctions’ most popular cars so far have been a Mk1 VW Golf GTI, E30 BMWs, a Bristol Blenheim, VW Campers and Mercedes SL models.


4: No reserve doesn’t necessarily mean no interest
A no-reserve auction will typically help to drive interest in a car before an auction goes live and often prompts more bidders to get involved because of the potential for a bargain. In fact, bidders on no-reserve or low reserve auctions are more likely to bid again than on vehicles that have high reserves.

5: Serious buyers will want a viewing first
That may have been the case in the past but other than a very small number of viewings, customers on Car & Classic Auctions have been buying from just looking at what’s online. The team pulls together all the information for each listing as well, with every car photographed and extensive information written about it.

6: Calling your shabby chic motor a barn find will increase its value
Dust alone does not a barn find make, while excessive rust is in no way the same as patina. Bidders will see right through ploys such as those.

A Bristol Blenheim S2. Image via Car & Classic

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John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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