Peugeot 505 1984 sti

culture

Buying a classic car at auction – Part 2

Will a strategy honed by eBay win me a classic Peugeot?

As you may have come to realise, late-night, potentially emotionally driven, classic car purchase conversations are a pretty standard thing for the CarAdvice team.

There’s a comprehensive mix of ‘you should buy this’ or ‘I might buy that’ chatter, liberally splashed across global classified inventory of varying degrees of affordability. And while sending Kez a €900k Lancia Delta S4 listing is perhaps at the more ‘unlikely’ end of the scale, there are plenty of low-four-figure four-wheeled opportunities on the table.

Justin recently described the outcome of one such conversation that involved a rather neat 1984 Peugeot 505 STI at a recent Shannons Auction.

I make no secret of my affection for the French lion, with at least ten Pugs featuring in the broader Ward-family garage over the past 45-years. And while there have been at least three 505 wagons, there has never been an example of the iconic Pininfarina sedan.

So, with Justin and Trent giving the green light on the car’s condition, and a pre-auction estimate indicating the Pug would fall within my budget envelope, I signed up to Shannon’s online bidding platform and prepared for the week-long auction.

The online format is new to Shannons, an outcome of a ‘no live crowds’ policy under COVID-19 restrictions, and while it takes away some of the sweaty-air pressure and adrenaline of bidding there and then, it’s still pretty nerve-wracking!

We spoke with Damien Duigan, Shannons’ Auction Sales Advisor, to garner some tips for auction success, but sadly it seems there is no ‘one’ strategy.

“The online format takes much of the emotion away from the auction process and allows people to consider their bids and bidding strategy,” said Duigan. “Some buyers like start with a strong bid, to potentially knock others out of the race, where other buyers will take their time and wait until the end of the auction; there’s no simple rule.”

I approached the Peugeot with a mix of the two and placed an early bid of $1100, which simply added the minimum of $100 over the starting point ($400) and would automatically re-raise to any other bidders until my set bid point.

If you have ever used eBay, it’s basically the same.

Within half an hour though, I had been outbid. So I raised, using a tried-and-tested eBay strategy of picking a semi-random figure to slow down any other round-number raises. This lasted all of 5-minutes. It’s a pretty addictive process, as at this point I told myself to park it and return in a few days to see where things were at. I let Justin know of the progress thus far, and was simply told to ‘go hard’, which didn’t help.

Not ten-minutes later I raised again, which was enough to see me top the bid table for the evening but be ousted again at dawn. Plenty of action and drama, and it was only day two of the seven-day auction!

Mind you, the car was still under $2000, and I had more in the tank. So I left it for a couple of days.

The seven-day format, noted Duigan, is working well for Shannons (and as we’ve noted, plenty of other auction houses as well), and in many ways favours the seller over the buyer, particularly when it comes to price.

“In a live auction, the pace of bidding is governed by the auctioneer, where online the auction runs its course and ends when bidding does. If it needs to run for longer than the allotted time, it does.”

“This means buyers have the time to consider their bids and can do so from anywhere.”

In short, this means people can think about their bids over a longer period of time, which makes snaffling a quick bargain in the heat of the moment, less likely. Great for sellers, and auction houses though, sufficed to say, Duigan says the online format will continue.

At the half-way mark, the 505’s price was rising, so I decided it was now or never and went all-in to my maximum price. Despite sitting on a couch, nearly 1000km away from the car itself, I have to say my heart rate went up.

Was I going to own a lovely classic 505?

A day passed. I was still at the top.

But with three days to go, the now-familiar email arrived from Shannons. I had been outbid, again.

There’s nothing worse than thinking you could lose your favoured item at an auction by one small bid, so I felt I should now let the clock run down and see where things were at with just an hour to go. I could maybe go a little higher...

As it was, my concerns were unwarranted, as a new bidding war had driven the Peugeot’s price up well beyond the $5000 mark, and as the auction ran to a close, I felt good in that the final price of $5,689 was probably about $1000 more than I was willing to pay.

Worth noting too, that someone else is obviously using that ‘random price’ technique!

A great outcome for the winning bidder, in securing a very well presented classic Peugeot, and a great outcome for the seller in netting a price over the market odds, and arguably over where the car would have ended in a live auction.

Sadly though, not a great outcome for me.

It was my first proper ‘bidding’ auction though, and I am keen to try it again, perhaps with deeper pockets and a different strategy, but it won't be for a while.

As I may well have missed out on this classic Peugeot, but in the wise words of Yoda, “there is another.” As to what? You’ll have to stay tuned!

- shares