Hammer out a deal
Save thousands at auction on a popular pre-loved model
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
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.