Bradley Farrell may be the owner and chief executive, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t handle seemingly mundane tasks as his year-old collector car auction company prepares for its upcoming sales.
One of those sales will take place this spring in The Finest Automobile Auctions’ 48,000-square-foot headquarters and showroom in Danbury, Connecticut, where the CEO sweeps the floors when he’s not negotiating for an auction consignment or working on yet another way to revolutionize the collector car auction process.
“We’re a Spartan team, a team of only five people, but what we’ve accomplished is pretty great,” Farrell said. “We’re all pitching in.”
Farrell’s target is to stage The Finest’s first sale in its own building sometime in April. The building is being made over and readied for its debut, and Farrell is promising those who bid will have a very different sort of auction experience.
But before that sale takes place, The Finest will stage its third auction ever and its inaugural event in conjunction with the Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance, the weekend of February 10-12 in the upscale Florida community.
“We’re going to do 70 cars (at Boca),” said Farrell, who at age 41 has been collecting cars perhaps half of his life. His personal collection leans strongly to pre-war French vehicles.
Farrell was invited to be a judge last year at the Boca Raton concours and was pleased to be asked to stage an auction at an event that already draws around 10,000 people.
Cars already on the docket for the Boca sale include a 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton, 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III, 1976 Porsche 930 Turbo, 1983 Ferrari 512 BBi, 1991 Acura NSX, 1997 Lamborghini Diablo VT roadster, and even a 2004 London Taxi TXII, with additional vehicles to be announced soon.
“Everything’s going on at one time,” Farrell said late last week.
“We’re working on Danbury and Boca,” he continued, and doing so during the busy Thanksgiving-Christmas-Hanukkah-New Year’s calendar. Oh, and then there’s the big clusters of auctions next week at Scottsdale (Farrell has a car entered in the Arizona Concours d’Elegance) and March 9-12 at Amelia Island.
Farrell’s sale at Boca Raton will be staged as has become familiar with collector car auctions, except that vehicles that aren’t bid to their owner’s reserve price go through a three-stage post-auction period during which they still can be purchased. Those cars will be available for additional bidding for 24 hours. If still not sold, they go into a “buy now” period for another 24 hours. If still available, there’s a subsequent “make an offer” timeframe.
The goal, Farrell has explained, is to reduce the pressure on bidders, who may prefer post-sale bidding in the quiet of their home, and consignors, who don’t have to go through the “grinding” process of being pressured to reduce their reserves before the hammer drops.
Farrell plans yet another wrinkle in the auction process when he stages his first sale in Danbury. All of the vehicles on the docket will be in Danbury, and people can come there and bid on them. However, all that bidding will be done via laptop, tablet or smartphone, not by the raising of hands.
The bidding will be done via the internet, with a large digital map of the globe showing a red beacon from wherever someone has bid on the vehicle currently available.
“As a bid comes through, it will show a red beacon, say, in France and another in the UK and another…,” Farrell said. “If you’re here on online, you’re seeing the places where they’re bidding from, so you know you’re bidding against real people.”
Farrell compared the expected experience to playing an interactive game such as on an Xbox live, “where you see you’re playing against somebody in Japan,” for example.
“When people stop bidding is when the car will go,” Farrell said, provided it reaches its reserve. If not, it enters the same sort of post-block sale process that The Finest runs for its other sales.
Farrell said he already has 29 cars committed for the first sale at Danbury. Others are expected and he’ll set a specific date for the sale as soon as the technology and the building are ready.