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'New Car'... or should I say, 'Old Car' smell

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The Holidays are over, now starts another holiday of sorts; the “Big Auctions” kick off the car hobby world’s year. Arizona in January is known as the "barometer" of the upcoming automotive year. Reporters and hobbyists predict trends and the health of the collector car industry based on Arizona’s sales. A way to describe the Arizona scene is that it is a horsepower circus and celebration of all things automotive. I’ve been there as a bidder and it’s fabulous. You see a little bit of everything.

One of the most important things to keep in mind while attending a car auction is to remember not to get caught up in that new car, well old car smell. The intoxicating fumes of gasoline and grandeur, the boasting and talk of the glory days tend to get one caught up in the auction action. Speaking as an auctioneer, that’s what we do best. It’s our job to market our client’s assets to the public and get the highest price for them. We like to build up a feeding frenzy and bidding war and “get the money.”

When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to drive and get my own first car. I would have driven anything to savor the sweet taste of driving freedom. In fact, I did. I drove 23 different vehicles out of the salvage yard from my freshman to senior years of high school. Some didn’t make it to school, mind you. But Dad would always say, “Don’t get caught up in that new car smell, look at the deal.” That’s good advice! I remember seeing a red Camaro at an auction and circled that thing about a hundred times before I won it. I was so proud the whole way home, and then the hard work began. I ended up fixing many things that I did not see at the auction. This is a good lesson for all auction goers. It doesn’t matter how nice the outside of a car is, there may be hidden problems lurking underneath the pretty paint. Just like a box of assorted chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. That’s why I punch holes in each piece before I commit to taking one. As a bidder it is no different. You must do your due diligence to look at the vehicle before you bid or buy it. The terms of every auction are different and it is up to the buyer to read the terms and agree to them before you get your bidding number. All items at the auction are sold AS IS, unless otherwise specified by the seller-owner, all sales are final. Just like buying a used car at a car dealer’s lot, there is always paperwork that comes along with the transaction.

Here are some helpful auction tips and reminders:

  1. Get to the auction site early and review the information on the lot BEFORE the auction commences. You should take and review pictures, read the information, call the auction company if needed, and be prepared and know as much as possible on what you want to bid on.
  2. When you get to the auction, have all your credentials in order and ready to get your number. You must review and agree to the terms and conditions. It doesn’t hurt to ask questions.
  3. Locate your lot and start your inspection. Crawl under the car, lie on the ground, bring a magnet; it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to look at the item and bid accordingly. NOBODY IS PUTTING A GUN TO YOUR HEAD TO MAKE YOU BID! You alone are responsible for your bidding activity. That’s the end all- it’s your responsibility. I had a guy one time say, “The grass was a bit tall and I didn’t want to get on the ground.” Really?- I do, you can! Once again, ask more questions.
  4. Now once the items are declared SOLD, you are the new owner. It’s your job to ship, remove, and above all, pay for your new purchase. NO going to get lunch, prompt payment is expected. At some auctions a penalty can be written in the terms and conditions for lack of payment or prompt payment. It’s a contract and you can be legally held responsible and this can be expensive.
  5. Most of all, have fun and be a good bidder and do your research. You and the auctioneer/seller will happy with your purchase and you get go home with the car or truck of your dreams. At my auctions, I’m more than happy to try and help you answer questions or try and get you the info that you need. Problems might arise when you don’t do your job with your inspections or payment.

Now when it pertains to trends… People always buy what they remember- if they don’t have a memory of a specific car or truck- they don’t buy them. For instance, in my age group (I’m not saying what group), is buying cars we had back in high school: Chevelles, Camaros, GTO’s, Challengers etc. They were a dime a dozen back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but have become extremely popular today. The kids are gone and empty nesters are bidding based off their glory days. I know I do. I remember getting a wild ride in a 1970 Chevelle recently and it took me back in time to Jasper, MN driving another 1965 Chevelle. My husband remembers buying a 1969 Road Runner and was so excited that his first run down the gravel road resulted in the rear springs coming through the rusty trunk. He definitely got caught up in the thrill of that Road Runner.

I think we will see other car vintages lower in price because the corresponding generation is selling and not buying with many selling in estate sales. I also feel that the foreign market will represent well this year.

Barrett Jackson will be offering two of the cleaned up Lambrecht Chevrolet Trucks that I previously helped sell. I will be watching to see what they say about them and what they bring. We sure had the old car smell fever going during that auction in Nebraska at Lambrecht Chevrolet. So, have fun going to the big show and our auctions, and remember to be a good bidder and we’ll all have fun and buying back those glory days.

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Yvette VanDerBrink-The Lil’ Nordstrom’s Gal
The Salvage Princess
VanDerBrink Auctions, LL

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