It's often been said that the happiest day of your life is when you buy a boat, and the second happiest day is when you sell it. While the maxim rarely holds true when it comes to Corvettes, life challenges or shifting priorities do occasionally conspire to necessitate the sale of even a cherished automobile. So, how do you liquidate your Corvette in a manner that ensures you the best possible price? Why, at auction, of course. And not just any auction, but one that specializes in performance, vintage, or other special-interest cars.
As car enthusiasts, we've spent many hours covering automobile auctions, but up till now, this author had never participated in one as a buyer or a seller. So, when the magazine's C5 on a Shoestring project wrapped up several months ago, we decided to run the car through the auction process and write about it for an article. (To recap, the project covered contributor Paul Zazarine's effort to restore his stock '97 Vette while simultaneously modifying it to outperform a C5 Z06, all on a total budget of $35,000.)
The concept sounded straightforward enough, but we quickly discovered that there was a lot to learn. What venue would we choose, how would we transport the car, and what paperwork was required to submit the car for auction? All of these questions would need to be answered before our C5 could cross the block.
If you're following along at home, the best advice is to plan several months ahead. Start by choosing a venue that represents the type of car you're trying to sell. Since we were selling a Corvette, we choose the Mecum Muscle and More event in Indianapolis.
Once you've decided on a venue, contact the auction house as soon as possible to secure a spot. The auction staff will then advise you on the documents required to sell your car. You will likely be asked to provide several photos, which will appear on the company's website and in the auction brochure. You will also be expected to provide a detailed overview of your car, to accompany these photos. Most auctions feature phone-in bidders whose buying decisions are based largely on what they see online; the more information you give them, them the better.
Once you've selected an event, the next decision is whether or not to include a reserve price. (A reserve price represents the minimum amount you're willing to accept for the car.) "No reserve" auctions tend to spark more interest, because everyone knows the car will sell. If you do set a reserve, you run the risk of not selling the car if your price is not met. (And remember, if your car doesn't sell, you'll need to make arrangements to transport it back home.) Keep in mind, however, that you can always remove the reserve at any time during the auction if bidding comes close enough to the price you want. We decided to create some excitement and go with the no-reserve approach.
Having been to a number of Mecum Auctions in the past, we knew that the Reliable Carriers was a common choice for vehicle transportation, and so we chose the company to transport C5 on a Shoestring. The process was simple: call the company, schedule a pick-up date, and wait for the truck to show up. Reliable is given an express check-in at the auction, which gives the car more time on the grounds and allows more potential buyers to inspect it.
Any concerns we might have had about the safety of the vehicle while in transit was assuaged when a Reliable rep told us about the $5 million of insurance the company carries on each truck. Reliable also provides GPS tracking on every carrier, so you know where your car is at all times.
With our shipping schedule confirmed, it was time to schedule our travel plans. Should you choose to send your vehicle to auction without attending yourself, be sure to contact your auction liaison to work out the details before the event takes place.