The big story
‘It is still hard to beat the excitement of bidding in person’
The internet’s effect on classic car auctions continues to strengthen, with web-based catalogues giving easily-accessed up-to-date lists of cars coming to sale, and allowing interested enthusiasts the chance to get a better idea about cars they are interested in.
And when it comes to bidding, the internet can, according to one auctioneer, account for around one fifth of all bidding, with the number of internet-derived successful bids continuing to grow. As with fine art and wine, initial scepticism that people would not bid solely on web-based pictures and accompanying text has proved wrong, although there remains a belief that bidding in the auction room cannot be beaten.
The internet offers auctioneers ever-expanding business opportunities, especially when reaching an international audience, as Historics’ Edward Bridger- Stille explains: ‘The internet has profoundly changed the way we communicate and will continue to do so. Whether you’re a fan of online or not, it’s essential to fully capitalise on the current and future opportunities it offers in commercial terms,’ he says. ‘For that reason, Historics’ embraces live internet bidding at every auction and it is a valuable resource in international sales terms with a reach to prospects and buyers that would otherwise be impossible.
Says H&H auction manager Damian Jones: ‘ We sell more cars via the i-bidder, saleroom and bidspotter platforms than any of our rivals. The last significant online purchase made at one of our auctions was the ex-Prince Philip 1954 Lagonda 3 Litre Drophead Coupe for £346,800.’
HVA is a relative newcomer to internet bidding, having used it in its last two sales. ‘It opens ours sales up to a worldwide audience but I hope it doesn’t mean people will stay at home and bid from their armchairs’ says HVA’s Peter Williams. ‘For any auctioneer, offering internet bidding is a must.’
While the internet opens up bidding to an increasing number of people, it doesn’t have the excitement of being in the sale room. Edward Bridger- Stille says: ‘There is no substitute for a live auction experience. We never lose sight of the fact that our core market comprises the many thousands of enthusiasts who attend our auctions in person. We believe it is only right that they are given the opportunity to open bidding before our registered internet bidders join in.’
H&H’s Damian Jones agrees: ‘It’s hard to beat the excitement, drama and competitiveness of bidding in person, but H&H recognises that we are all living in an increasingly digital world,’ he says.
Internet bidding can create a worldwide audience with more than enough cash to buy something like a Lamborghini Countach.