2014 top stories: No. 4 — Classic cars auctioned online

Exotic cars shown in the hotel before Rick Cole's all-onlne auction | Rick Cole Auctions
Exotic cars shown in the hotel during Rick Cole’s all-onlne auction | Rick Cole Auctions

The news was big enough that veteran collector-car auction pro Rick Cole was returning to Monterey with his own sale. But the way he was doing it was even bigger news.

Cole created the first auction on the Monterey Peninsula during the classic car weekend in 1986. In 2014, he again demonstrated his inventive spirit.

A Ferrari 410 Sport sold online for $23 million |Rick Cole Auctions
A Ferrari 410 Sport sold online for $23 million |Rick Cole Auctions

For his return to Monterey, Cole lined up a premiere group of classic cars in the ballroom of the Marriott Hotel in downtown Monterey for prospective buyers to see and evaluate. But for the actual live sale, Cole went entirely online with all bids taken via smart phone with a special app.

This was a first for a major collector-car auction, although it’s something that’s been talked about for some time, an all-online auction that would have the bidding done offsite. Most auctions have online and phone bidding during live auctions, but no one before had the nerve to produce a major, high-end sale that was online only.

And it paid off. Cole’s auction resulted in spirited bidding and total sales of nearly $60 million, led by the post-bidding sale of a 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport for $23 million, the third-highest selling car of all the Monterey week auctions. Nine of Cole’s cars sold for more than $1 million, with five of them in the multi-millions.

The Cole auction gave a major boost to online classic car auctions becoming common in the future, just as many auctions of valuable art objects and prestige jewelry have gone online.

A 'barn-find' AC Bristol roadster was a BidAnywhere top seller | Auctions America
A ‘barn-find’ AC Bristol was a BidAnywhere top seller | Auctions America

In November, Auctions America by RM held its first one-day BidAnywhere auction, which it described as a “virtual live” sale with a auctioneer calling the action on an Internet feed and all bids being placed online. In this auction, the bidders never actually saw the cars in person, relying instead on in-depth descriptions by Auction America’s specialists.

The auction garnered $1.1 million with more than 20 of 65 cars sold, including a couple of “barn-find” British sports cars that beat pre-auction expectations.

“The sale attracted high levels of new interest and first-time clientele, with the barn-find and project cars in particular attracting strong interest and results,” Amy Christie, spokesperson for Auctions America, said after the event. “Based on the positive feedback, it is a format that we do plan to do again.”

Meanwhile, a German auction company, Auctionata, which specializes in online auctions of art works, jewelry, antique and modern furniture, and other valuable goods, held its first online sale of classic cars in Berlin. Although a total sales result was not available, the top-selling car among the 28 sold was a 1928 Riley Brooklands race car that went for $150,000.

 

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