On that latter point, sellers are charged an entry fee of £15 plus 6% commission on the sale price, with a minimum of £36. Buyers pay a £35 indemnity fee (it’s a surety that the vehicle is Hpi-clear to sell) on cars costing up to £500 and £5 every £300 beyond that. It means that a car that sells for £350 would cost just £385 including charges.
“Fees at Cannock are very low,” said Steve, a casual trader who has been coming to the auction for two years, in which time he has bought 20 cars, among them just one ‘lemon’. “You can easily pay £200 at larger places, and on some sales you’ll pay more in fees than you will for the car itself.”
He was a little disappointed at the day’s range of cars but was still relishing the possibility of spotting a good’un. Tellingly, a very bright 2015 Ford Fiesta 1.25 Zetec with 25,000 miles and a full service history left him cold. “Suspiciously good for this place,” he said. Sure enough, it didn’t sell.
William Harrison told us that he has been buying cars at Cannock for 40 years. “I’ve bought thousands,” he says. “When there were more independents like it, we would come here on a Saturday morning and then go to Stoke for its sale. On Tuesdays, we would be here and then over to Stafford. Prices are very low. People are happy to pay £1000 for a car, run it for 12 months and then put it back through the auction. That’s cheap motoring.”
Tom, his son, isn’t so sure: “A lot of these cars will be sold for parts – especially their catalytic converters.”
Brothers-in-law Steve and Adam were shopping for a car for Steve’s daughter. They had their eye on a 2010 Citroën DS3 1.6 Black & White with 116,000 miles. They left having snaffled it for £1350.
“I’ve been going to auctions since
I was 16,” said Adam. “I’ve bought around 90 cars from them but only two off dealer forecourts, one of them new. I’ve never come unstuck, unlike the time I bought a Ford Focus on an online marketplace for £700 and spent another £600 repairing it…”
Part of Cannock’s secret is that it’s a traditional, family-run business. Owners Tom Luik and his wife Margaret acquired it from Tom’s brother Ilmar in 2016, when he retired. Ilmar had in turn acquired it from Cannock’s founder, a chap called Stan Fallows who started it in the late 1960s to sell all sorts, from televisions to cars. Ilmar joined part-time in 1976 and slowly assumed the reins. Today, Tom is always visible and available to advise or, occasionally, mediate, as is the way with auctions.
The first thing you notice on arrival is the large green, pitchedroof building that dominates the expanse of hardstanding divided into pre-sale and post-sale parking areas. It’s where, in normal times, sales are conducted. Freelance auctioneer ‘Rapid’ Rich Stoodley (“If I were any faster, I would be mediocre”) told us there’s no better auction: “I’ve been doing this job for 30 years and Cannock is the best. It’s a shame you’re here in Covid, because when the shed is open, there’s loads of banter and atmosphere.”
We can imagine, which is why we reckon we’ve just found our new Midlands meet-up where we can kick tyres, chew the fat and bag a motor for pennies. Better than ogling unattainable supercars any day.
Rapid Rich has been auctioning for 30 years