Ham­mer out a deal

Save thou­sands at auc­tion on a pop­u­lar pre-loved model

The Advertiser - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - BILL McKIN­NON bill.mckin­non@news.com.au

PSSST. Wanna save big money on a late model used car? Say, $90,000?

Give or take a few thou­sand dol­lars, that’s how much one as­tute buyer saved on a 2015 Fer­rari F12 berlinetta, with 11,000km on the clock, bought at a re­cent Pick­les lux­ury car auc­tion in Syd­ney for $530,000.

At a dealer, the same car would cost about $620,000 ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try pric­ing guide­books. New, the F12 is the prici­est Fezza of them all, at $690,745 plus on-roads.

It’s not just su­per­car shop­pers who can save se­ri­ous cash buy­ing at auc­tion.

Pick­les auc­tion­eer and valuer Ge­orge Abounader also puts thou­sands of Corol­las, Cam­rys, Com­modores, Hyundais and HiLuxes un­der the ham­mer each year on be­half of lo­cal coun­cils, govern­ment de­part­ments, fi­nance and leas­ing com­pa­nies.

These cars are typ­i­cally base or mid-spec au­to­mat­ics, two to four years old, with reg­is­tra­tion and of­ten rel­a­tively low kilo­me­tres (20,000-50,000). The sav­ings can be sub­stan­tial com­pared with buy­ing the same ve­hi­cle from a dealer.

After all, deal­ers buy stock at auc­tions too. The same cars end up on used car lots with a markup of sev­eral thou­sand dol­lars.

Let’s take a hy­po­thet­i­cal guide­book ex­am­ple, the ubiq­ui­tous Toy­ota Camry Al­tise. White, of course. A 2014 model with 30,000km will cost you $19,000-$20,000 at a dealer. The same car at auc­tion will fetch $15,000-$16,000.

A 2014 VF Holden Calais 3.6-litre V6, per­haps the ex- may­oral char­iot, with the same kilo­me­tres is worth about $30,000 at a dealer; at auc­tion, it’s about $25,000.

“Buy­ing at auc­tion, you can save thou­sands of dol­lars on these types of cars,” Abounader says. “Most will have a few bumps and bruises, but fleet and govern­ment cars usu­ally have a log­book, which will tell you who owned the car, and ser­vice records. If the car still has some man­u­fac­turer’s war­ranty left on it, that’s trans­fer­able to you as the new owner.”

Pick­les puts a list of cars at each of its auc­tions on­line at pick­les.com.au in the week lead­ing up to the auc­tion. There are pho­tos of each car, de­tails such as kilo­me­tres trav­elled, and a con­di­tion re­port, which is ba­si­cally a walk-around that iden­ti­fies bat­tle scars such as dings, chips and scrapes.

The big­ger they are, the harder they fall — the say­ing ap­plies to lux­ury car re­sale

val­ues, too

If you’re think­ing of buy­ing at auc­tion, this is the best place to start, Abounader says.

“Do your re­search on the cars you’re in­ter­ested in be­fore the auc­tion and know what you are buy­ing. Check the prices be­ing asked for sim­i­lar cars on­line, so you know how much you should be pay­ing, and come and have a look at the cars if you can.”

Prices tend to be strong in the run-up to Christ­mas, he says, but softer early in the New Year, when used car whole­salers and deal­ers go on hol­i­days like ev­ery­body else.

If you’re after some­thing a bit fancier than the hum­ble rep­mo­bile, you can also pick up a bar­gain at a lux­ury car auc­tion. The same risks ap­ply, though, re­gard­less of how much the car costs.

“At a bare min­i­mum you’ll save 10 per cent and it can be up to 25 per cent,” says Steve Allen, Pick­les na­tional man­ager of pres­tige ve­hi­cles.

“Most of the re­sale value dam­age on a new car is done in the first year, so the younger the car — es­pe­cially if it’s un­der two years old — the greater the po­ten­tial sav­ing,” says Allen.

Lux­ury cars at auc­tion usu­ally come off cor­po­rate, fleet or pri­vate leases, and some have also been hauled away by the repo man due to an own­ers’ “fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties”.

Audi’s A4 and BMW’s 3 Se­ries are sta­ples of Pick­les lux­ury auc­tions. The trick to pick­ing up a good deal on one of these, says Allen, is to buy one that’s loaded with op­tions — and own­ers of these cars do tend to spend up big on bling and wid­gets.

In theory it’s worth much more than a stan­dard car but in re­al­ity it isn’t. “You never get your money back on op­tions,” says Allen.

Models in run-out, or re­cently su­per­seded, are worth look­ing out for, he says. BMW’s F10 5 Se­ries is a “great buy” now, be­cause a new model is due early in 2017.

At a re­cent Pick­les lux­ury auc­tion in Syd­ney, for ex­am­ple, a 2012 528i with 46,000km on the clock, with a guide­book value of about $50,000, went for $36,000.

The big­ger they are, the harder they fall — the say­ing ap­plies to lux­ury car re­sale val­ues, too.

A 2014 Mercedes E400, with just 16,500km and val­ued at about $95,000, went for $75,000. A 2013 Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal GT, with 31,000km on it, went for $235,000. It would be worth about $280,000 re­tail and cost $370,000 new.

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