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Pit Crew

Online auctions becoming the norm?

I just saw Barrett-Jackson is doing an online-only auction in May. Do people think this is going to become the norm and the high fees/big shows will fade out?


It's hard to justify a 10% fee when Bring a Trailer or eBay brings just as good sale prices for massively less cost... Has anyone here sold their car at auction? Were you satisfied with the paying the fees/felt the benefits were worth it?

Hagerty Employee

It will be tough for the auction companies to match the audience that Bring a Trailer has amassed, or the excitement of being there in person, but now's a good time for them to try out the online world. 

Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

It's an interesting point you bring up. Companies like RM Sotheby's seemingly haven't slowed down business during the pandemic. They have taken things online. But I think, when it comes to auctions, there's something about the atmosphere that people love. The hootin' and hollerin' and seeing the cars up close and personal is something that online auctions cannot replicate. I'm certain online auctions will continue to be more prevalent, though.


I've sold a car through an online auction, and really couldn't imagine paying the fees to do it at an in-person sale. Of course, I was selling $10k stuff, so just transport fees make it not worth it, but even if you take that out I can see why folks might be shying away from in-person sales in the future. 

Community Manager

Having sold a car on eBay (at a big loss, but that's fine, I wanted it gone) and been involved with telephone/online purchases from B-J, this seems like a natural move and one that many folks will appreciate.  The question for me will be if the big auction houses can out do BaT, as they seem to have cornered the market on modern classics.  They will need to integrate the Cable TV coverage with online bidding, as that's something BaT can't touch. 


Great responses in this thread already.


If Barrett-Jackson had never evolved into the TV and livestream entertainment event maybe the answer would be different and online would rule all.


High end, exclusive auctions will likely last for a long time. Besides, if you have the money to buy a six figure car isn't it cooler to be there to get it? I'd want to see it in person myself, but I understand that when you get to a certain level of $ you don't need to be there and are probably paying someone to vet the car ahead anyways (i.e., I believe Wayne Carini has done this on his tv show).


If anything, I think the online takes the load off. What we see on TV is usually show car+ quality stuff (and prices can be a bit wacky in the atmosphere...). If you are selling a lower condition and/or value car you are more likely to do well in a multi-day online auction.


So in short... I think there is room for all types of auctions.