Competitive Bids and Deals

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The broken-in cars and trucks that customers trade on leases, dealers want for sales, owners lose to repossessions and companies collect for their business fleets often wind up at a large-scale but lesser known segment of the used car market: auto auctions.

In 2016, 9.9 million vehicles changed hands by way of bids and similar deals, according to National Auto Auction Association in the most recent 2017 Used Car Market Report. The total was up 6 percent from the year before and continues a trend in the past five years of rising auction sales.

What’s evolving is how the cars are sold at auction, increasingly online. Manheim, the Pennsylvania-based industry leader, noted earlier this year it's seeing “unprecedented growth of its offsite channels,” according to a story on the Automotive Remarketing website. Manheim said 40 percent of cars sold through the auction company last year were bought on digital screens, the article noted.

Manheim counted 2 million purchases by way of digital transactions last year, with nearly 32 percent on auction websites or Simulcast.

Moreover, purchases outside physical auctions increased 30 percent, according to Manheim.

“Our goal is to enable clients to conduct transactions in the office, on the lot or on the go – helping them operate their business in the way that best suits their needs,” said Derek Hansen, vice president of Offsite Solutions at Manheim, in the Automotive Remarketing piece.

“Using Manheim’s digital and mobile channels, we deliver efficiency, cost savings and convenience for dealers buying and selling used vehicles,” he said.

The typical used vehicle auction hardly resembles car collector bidding event, which are often televised in front of interested buyers who pay vast sums for some of the world’s rarest exotics and super-cars.

More than 2,600 cars were auctioned in Scottsdale, Arizona, for a combined $248 million at the iconic Barrett-Jackson sale in January, according to classic car insurance and research company Hagerty and reported by

About the same as previous years, 84 of the cars put up for auction sold. Sales total of $247.8 million fell 5 percent from 2017, Hagerty noted. writer Robert Frank listed the 10 most expensive cars sold at the auction, including:

1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Speciale Coupe, $8,085,000. 1958 Porsche 550A Spyder, $5,170,000. 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider, $4,455,000, 1931 Bugatti Type 55 Roadster sold for $4,070,000; 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Roadster, $2,947,500; 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider, $2,640,000 ; Ferrari 330 GTS Spider, $2,530,000; 2017 Ford GT Coupe, $2.5 million; 2014 Pagani Huayra Coupe; $2,090,000; and 1948 Tucker 48 Sedan, $1,792,500.

The Ford GT coupe sold for charity.

“At the higher rungs on the pricing ladder, results weren’t as strong,” Hagerty said. “Further struggles were specifically seen in the $2 million to $5 million range, all of which could indicate a softening in the market.”

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