At South Downs Secure our car storage facilities are often used by clients who have been able to secure themselves a prized possession at one of the U.K.’s prestigious car auctions.
Car auctions have long been recognised as a place to obtain an investment piece, hence the need for car storage. But, 2016 saw a new name in the business. Eclectic Auctions is the brainchild of a collective group of car enthusiasts and technical wizards! A group of office buddies had become increasingly frustrated with buying and selling cars and bikes through the usual online channels. As a result, they decided to create a website with a different, more curated approach to car auctions.
We caught up with Rupert Thresher to find out more about Eclectic Auctions and car auctions in general.
Q: What is the most unusual vehicle that Eclectic Auctions have sold?
A: As our name suggests, we tend to handle unusual and niche vehicles. Those are the vehicles we are passionate about ourselves. Pretty much everything we accept for private treaty sale is rare and desirable. A Carmichael series 1 Range Rover and rare Japanese spec canvas roof Toyota FJ40 were reasonably unusual. But, so too is the ’32 Chevy Confederate we have up for pre-auction soon. It’s possibly the only one in the UK.
Q: What is the most valuable vehicle that Eclectic Auctions have sold?
A: It’s our policy to keep sale prices confidential. That said, we have sold some reasonably valuable machines. The bulk of our sales are in the £20k bracket which is where the market is most active at present.
Q: What recent trends have you seen in ‘collectable’ cars?
A: We tend to avoid vehicles that are in high demand as the mainstream car auctions are all vying for that same stock. Over the years, we’ve watched vehicles we are passionate about move into trend with price increases to match. We are drawn to vehicles that are just beginning to find a following or those that are established in overseas markets. Generally, these aren’t yet on the radar as being collectable in the U.K. The key is always to buy before prices rise and the stock we offer reflects that.
Q: How would you compare the online car auction experience to an offline specialist car auction?
A: The offline specialist ‘physical’ car auctions have enormous overheads to cover. This translates into high fees for both buyers and sellers. The very nature of the way a physical auction house operates dictates it. Most traditional auction houses now offer the ability to bid online, but the inherent costs are still there for them. There’s no doubt that a day at the auctions is an exciting experience, but it is one that the buyer or seller will have to pay for.
Q: How do Eclectic Auctions do things differently?
A: We offer a hybrid experience whereby we place all of the cars we sell into ‘pre-auction’, usually for two weeks to a month. This allows a potential buyer to view the vehicle and documentation at their leisure. They can either place a ‘buy now’ offer there and then to secure it, or wait until the vehicle enters a live online auction. We have seen the shift from physical to online in the retailing businesses we build platforms for. We believe that our approach could well be the way the classic vehicle auction market will head in years to come.
Q: What do you think is the greatest benefit of listing a classic/specialist car for sale on an online auction platform dedicated to vehicles?
A: The default choice for many years if an owner wanted to sell their classic or collector vehicle was the auction platform that sold everything. We noticed a change in the way that type of platform operated, which had a detrimental effect on both the buyer and seller, but increased profits for the platform. It is this change that prompted us to create Eclectic Auctions. We have years of specialist knowledge, with a member of our team able to advise on pretty much every marque. If there is a particular model we aren’t entirely familiar with, then we contact marque specialists to advise. The work that goes on behind the scenes on the seller’s behalf is the greatest benefit of listing with an online auction platform dedicated to classic/specialist vehicles.
Q: In your experience, what are the most significant reservations that people have about buying at an online auction?
A: The biggest reservation that buyers have is whether a listing is a scam or not. It is increasingly difficult to tell. Some scammers are exceptionally aware of market trends and prices and pricing their fictive wares tantalisingly close to a good deal. Even rational buyers can be fooled into paying a nominal deposit. When hundreds of these deposits are paid on each item, it is easy to see why scammers are attracted to specific online sites.
Q: How do you alleviate these concerns?
A: We curate each listing and communicate directly with buyers and sellers which helps allay concerns. We don’t handle the enormous volumes that general goods auction platforms do. So, we can curate and monitor every listing. We believe it is still essential to see, hear and smell the car you are buying and as such always recommend viewing a vehicle in person.
Q: What about protecting the sellers?
A: Eclectic Auctions only accepts registered buyers who lodge their credit card details with us. Vehicles are held either at our storage premises or the sellers’ premises. This means vehicles only leave once fully paid for.
Q: Can you pass on any specific tips about bidding at car auctions (online or offline), that can help a prospective purchaser secure a coveted car?
A: The early bird that catches the worm. The majority of vehicles that we sell never make it to live auction as they are sold either by private treaty or through a pre-auction offer. We sell directly to classic car dealers as well as to private buyers. Because our overheads and hence our fees are so much lower, our prices are far below dealer price. Know the figure you are prepared to pay and stick to it. That way you won’t get carried away in the heat of the moment. If it is a purchase made out of passion, which we believe it should always be, then knowing you bought at the right price can make the pleasure so much sweeter.
Q: For buyers lucky enough to be successful in their bid, what services do they need to think about next?
A: We always advise having your new purchase delivered to your door, garage or car storage facility. This is regardless of the condition of the vehicle. While it might be tempting to make that long country or continental drive home, we always suggest a few shorter local runs on familiar roads. This will ease you gently into ownership. A new vehicle will be unfamiliar to drive. Even if you’ve owned the same type before, no two are ever the same. Driving on a favourite road that you know well allows you to better get in tune with your new vehicle and safely find its nuances. Additionally, something minor and easily fixed like a blown fuse or faulty HT lead can ruin the pleasure of a first drive home. It is worth remembering that even concourse ground-up restorations are not immune to a few initial maladies.
Q: What do you think people should be looking for when they are selecting a professional car storage facility?
A: A professional outfit with a first-class security set up is a must. When you’re storing a treasure, you need to consider humidity controlled car storage. We recently wrote a blog article about car storage, recommending South Downs Secure!
If you have recently bought a car at auction and would like to protect your investment, contact us to find out how we can help.