Classic Car Auctions A Beginners Guide

Do a dry run

If you’ve never been before, the best way to get a feel for an auction is by going to a few – without buying anything. Go along, get an idea of the setup, what goes on and when, where you need to go on the day to register, if you don’t do it before, and so on. But remember it’s just a dry run – don’t get sucked into buying something you don’t want.

Research your prices and fees

Once you’ve been along to a couple of auctions to get a feel for how they work, you should feel ready to go to one ‘for real’. Most auction houses publish catalogues – in print and online – well in advance of sales, so it’s easy to see what’s on offer. Many sales are specific to a certain type of vehicle, too, so you can target one that suits you.

If you are looking for a specific car then research its value ahead of the day. Prices rise and fall quickly, so make sure that you’re up to date.

Auctions are undoubtedly a place to bag a bargain, but make sure that you check the fees involved as well – such as buyers’ fees, consignment fees and VAT – as they can all add a fair whack to the final price. Also check out what documents and identification you might need and whether you need to register in advance to buy.

On the day

If it’s your first auction then get there early to make sure you’ve got plenty of time to seek out the car, or cars, that you’ve got your eye on to inspect in detail. 

There won’t normally be a chance to test drive, but you will have an opportunity to carry out your own pre-sale inspection and most auctions will offer their own inspections. In any event, make sure you have a very good look at your potential purchase both inside and out.

Make sure you start it as well, listening out for any strange noises and, as you would when buying any car, check for white or blue smoke from the exhaust – always a bad sign. Again, as you would when buying any car, check bodywork for rust, dents, bad welds and the like.

Get it checked – this is something you can do beforehand if you have the vehicle’s details – using a company like HPI. Each car will have a description – check this carefully for any caveats or extra terms and conditions, as well as anything else that might be a cause for concern, such as the car being classified as a write-off, for example.

Time to bid

When it’s time to get down to business, each car will be driven into the auction room in the order of the auction catalogue or list. This is your final chance to listen to your potential purchase’s engine note – or your first if you haven’t had a chance before the sale.

When the bidding starts you’ll need to be 100 per cent switched on. Bids start low, usually, but can rise quickly. All that’s needed to bid is a clear and decisive raise of the hand – eye contact with the auctioneer is good, too.

As is usual at all auctions, the gavel will fall when the highest price is reached. If there are a lot of cars to get through this can happen very quickly – so stay alert. If you’re the top bidder then you’ll need to pay a deposit – usually around 20 per cent or at least £500 – straight away, so make sure you’ve got cash or cleared funds in your bank account.

And full payment, including the auctioneer’s fee, will need to be made before you can take your newly acquired classic away, so make sure you’ve got this in place.

Plan ahead for if you come out on top

You’ve done the hard work and that classic is now yours, but did you plan ahead to make sure it’s road-ready to drive away? This is the stuff that you’d need to do in any car-buying situation – how will you get it home?

If you’re driving it away, it’ll need to be taxed, have an MOT and be insured for you to drive it.

Where to start?

To get yourself going, try these auctioneers:

Classic Car auctions



Silverstone Auctions


Historics at Brooklands

British Car Auctions

And don’t forget to check out our cars for sale section as well.

The 5 Most Desirable Muscle Cars

#5 – 1970 Buick GSX Stage 1

When Buick entered the muscle car market, it was amongst the most luxurious and powerful of the brands. Featuring a rear spoiler and body striping, it officially delivered a phenomenal 360 horsepower to the rear wheels, although many have suggested that this power figure is actually underrated. Available in yellow or white, only 678 of these iconic vehicles were ever produced.  

#4 – 1965 Pontiac GTO

Purists who choose not to trace the era of muscle cars back to the iconic 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 generally see the Pontiac GTO as the founding father of the muscle car phenomenon. Skirting a General Motors ban against putting big engines in small cars, the response to the illicit vehicle was so overwhelming that it won over GM execs, and paved the way for the stable of Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick and Pontiac muscle cars that were rolled out beside it. Affectionately known as ‘The Goat’, today it can fetch up to $200,000.

#3 – 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429

Fewer than 1,400 Boss 429s were produced, making this muscle car a very reclusive beast indeed. The hulking vehicle was the resultant love child of a car maker who merged his idea with NASCAR regulations. The engine was known for its long-haul racing abilities, but it caused some serious problems for the manufacturer. The Boss 429 had to essentially be hand-built at Michigan-based Kar Kraft because the engine wouldn’t fit in a standard Mustang without extensive modifications. The result of this labour of love was a car which could do 0 to 60mph in an estimated 7.1 seconds. Today the car can retail for around $480,000.

#2 – 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

With fewer than 70 ever built, the Camaro ZL1 is the rarest production car Chevrolet ever made. For decades, the car retained its accolade of having the most powerful Chevrolet engine ever offered to the public. With a jaw-dropping 500 horsepower roaring under its hood, the ZL1 could go from 0-60 in a little over 5 seconds, making it a fantastic drag racing car. Its top speed was 125 miles per hour. Today, the 69 models made are valued at around $91,000.   

 #1 – 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454

1970 is revered by many as the pinnacle of the muscle car era, and the Chevelle SS 454 is a weighty piece of evidence in favour of that argument. The LS6 version generated 450 horsepower, and featured a Holley four-barrel carburettor. No other muscle car could equal its power. Not only could it blow its competitors out of the water, but it also looked good doing it. Featuring a swept-back roof line, it provided the illusion of speed even when idle, and its bulging hood implied that something very special was happening under the bonnet. With its outrageous power and stylish design, the Chevelle SS 454 represented the glorious culmination of the muscle-car power wars.      


Licensed To Thrill: Bonds Greatest Classic Cars

No.5: Die Another Day: Aston Martin V12 Vanquish

Granted, all Aston Martin’s are beautiful, but the V12 Vanquish in Die Another Day is especially stunning. Having said that, the Bond creators did their best to hide the looks of this beautiful machine, with Q installing an adaptive camouflage device that made it invisible. Despite that, the V12 Vanquish really was the perfect car for any bond girl.

Picture of Lotus Esprit in sea


Lotus Esprit defined a generation. The Lotus Esprit had everything that you could possibly need from a supercar and, what’s more, it even doubled as a submarine in sticky situations. Perfect for avoiding machine gun bullets on the hills and sublime at navigating through the ocean, the Lotus Esprit really was the perfect all-rounder.

No.3: Goldfinger and Thunderball: Aston Martin DB5

In 2010, one of the DB5s made for these films sold for $4.1 million at auction, while the other was stolen from its owner in Florida. The DB5 is arguably the most famous of all the Bond cars, and it certainly gets the blood flowing even today. Back then, a hidden in-car phone was the height of technology, but don’t belittle it; as the driver can always press the red knob on the top of the gear stick and throw you out of the ejector seat. Recently voted in the top 10 most recognisable motors in the world, the Aston Martin DB5 is a true classic for the ages.

No:2 Tomorrow Never Dies: BMW 750iL

Many will be shocked by the choice of the BMW 750iL because of its somewhat bland appearance, but its unassuming nature is what makes it the perfect Bond vehicle. It may not look like much, but the Q gadgets installed make it many people’s favourite; the entire car could be controlled remotely via mobile phone. With this feature, a smoke bomb and his famed agility Bond was able to steward the car to safety from a German car park, all from the comfort of the back seat. Talk about a back seat driver, eh?

James Bond's Aston Martin DBS

No.1: Casino Royale: Aston Martin DBS V12

Number one on the list simply had to be an Aston Martin, and is there a more worthy winner than the DBS V12? One for the modern Bond fans, the Aston Martin had already saved Bond’s life due to its handily fitted defibrillator when it became one of Britain’s most loved wreckages. The car flipping scene (currently a Guinness world record) is one of Bond’s most iconic moments and, even after all that, the car still looks beautiful.

There we have it, Bond’s 5 greatest classics. We may all agree on the order, but we’d all love to have any of them in the garage.

Famous Cars From Tv And Film

Here, we look at some of the most famous of all time and also examine the costs involved of getting your hands on one yourself.

Aston Martin DB 5 – James Bond

One of the most famous British cars of all time, the instantly recognisable Aston Martin DB5 was a car with the looks and sophistication to match its suave secret agent owner. Despite its iconic status, it was built for only two years from 1963-65 and a mere 1,023 were produced, making it well sought-after today.

It was built as a convertible, a two-door shooting brake and, the one most remembered, a 2+2 coupe. Its 4.0-litre made for a top speed of 143mph and 60mph in eight seconds. For James Bond, who has largely stuck with Astons to the present day, the car was, of course, heavily modified with weapons and gadgets.

It first appeared in Goldfinger in 1964, varying from the novel in updating the car from a DB 3. Two cars were used in the film and one was used again in Thunderball. The original cars have made cameo appearances in several films since, right up to Skyfall. One of the originals used in the film sold for £2.6 million at auction a few years ago.

And getting your hands on one isn’t cheap – you’ll need at least £500,000 and maybe twice that.

DeLorean DMC-12 – Back to the Future

Probably one of the most memorable movie cars of recent decades, the DeLorean DMC-12’s looks ideally suited a futuristic time machine, even if Marty McFly questioned Doc Brown’s logic in the movie when he exclaimed: “You built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?” Its brushed stainless steel bodywork and gullwing doors were ideal for the part and the car was modified to allow it to travel through time when it hit 88mph.

It saw further modifications when it was converted into a flying car when Doc and Marty travelled to 2015. And for that reason we couldn’t leave it off this list. As that year has now rolled around for real, it seems that the film was optimistic about mankind’s progress. The car itself has a colourful story attached, being as it was the only model ever produced by John DeLorean’s DeLorean Motor Company in Northern Ireland from 1981 to 1983. But only 9,000 were made before the company went bust.

The car’s real life performance wasn’t stunning, with its 2.9-litre V6 managing 140mph top speed and 60mph in nine seconds. But that stainless steel body did at least mean that the car was built to last and plenty survive now.

For that reason, they can be had for around £30,000.

Ford Consul – The Sweeney

No-nonsense Detective Inspector Jack Regan, played by John Thaw, and Detective Sergeant George Carter, portrayed by Dennis Waterman, were seen in a host of cars over the years, mostly Fords, but their primary steed was a Ford Consul GT. The name, which is more widely known for Ford’s cars of the 1960s and 1970s, was revived by the firm in 1972 to be the name for cheaper and lower spec versions of the Ford Granada, which was new at the time.

It was built in Dagenham, as well as in Germany, and Consuls could be distinguished from Granadas by their cross-mesh grille, rather than the horizontal grille fitted to the Granada. There was a Consul and Consul L alongside the GT model driven by Regan and Carter and there were two-door and four-door saloons, as well as a two-door coupe and a five-door estate. Power came from 1.6 and 2.0 engines, as well as a 2.5 V6 and, in the Consul GT, a 3.0 V6 producing 138hp. It was the choice of the daring detectives thanks to it being lighter than the Granada and therefore quicker. It managed 60mph in 9.1 seconds and a top speed of 113mph.

The Consul name disappeared a few years after it was brought back. The Consul GT is quite hard to come by, with one selling at auction recently for around £5,000.

The Granada from the period can be found more easily in the region of £3,000 to £7,000.

Mini – The Italian Job

The use of Minis in the Italian Job was inspired and meant the film went down in history as a classic British crime caper. The car itself was built for more than 40 years, from 1959 to 2000, and by the time the film came around it was 10 years old and well cemented as an icon of British 1960s culture. It was a hit due to its ingenious design, its space-saving front engine, front-wheel-drive layout meant that most of the car’s floorpan could be used for passengers and luggage. Millions were made over its lengthy life.

BMC, which made them at the time of the film, only provided a small number for production and the crew had to buy more at trade price. Several were destroyed during filming, notably during the famous sequence where the cars were driven through a sewer. But it was the cars’ agility and under-dog status in the film that elevated it yet further in the nation’s hearts.

Today, they command classic prices and you’ll do well to find one for much less than £3,000 – and you can pay many times that for classic models from earlier years.

Dodge Charger – The Dukes of Hazzard

One of the most famous TV cars from across the pond, the General Lee driven by Bo and Luke Duke in the series was a Dodge Charger. It was the car that they used on their adventures around Hazzard County as they evaded the county commissioner Boss Hogg. The Charger has been produced in many variants since 1964 and is back on sale today. The one in the show was a 1969 model, a rear-wheel-drive coupe.

It is estimated that more than 300 Chargers were used during the show’s run of 145 episodes from 1979 to 1985. Only a handful of those are still known to exist, although one sold at auction in 2008 for $230,000.

Examples from the 1960s and 1970s command decent money on today’s classic market, with £20,000 to £50,000 not uncommon.

Women and Cars: The Rise of the Female Petrolhead

A Hidden Involvement

From their advent, cars have provided greater mobility for both men and women. As one farmwoman in the 1920s said, when asked why her family had bought a car rather than installing indoor plumbing in their home, “You can’t go to town in a bathtub.” But, surely, the plumbing would have provided an advantage to the whole family, the vehicle only to the men? Cars do, after all, traditionally belong in the male domain.

If that’s what you believe, then you should know that you’re wrong. It’s not that a female contribution has not existed, but only that it’s been ignored. The earliest examples of the transformative qualities of cars were seen in towns and cities, where roads were more likely to be hard-topped, gasoline and spare parts were widely available, and a core group of interested and wealthy sponsors were present. Women, just as much as men, were a fundamental part of these circles.

Although they were a minority in the world of motoring, women had a big impact on driving. Men frequently attempted to limit or prohibit female drivers, and often ridiculed their driving ability, but that didn’t stop the emergence of a number of famous female motorists. Writers Emily Post and Edith Wharton were well-known figures and women made notable automobile contributions to World War I, as ambulance, tram and tractor drivers. This demonstrates to us that although we often believe that women and cars did not mix until much later, there was a core of urban and suburban women for whom driving was useful, necessary or just plain adventurous even in the early years of the twentieth century.

In families in the early twentieth century, women often enjoyed some access to the family motor vehicle. Although men considered that they should be granted priority as the wage-earners and head of the household, women were not solely passengers, dependent on their partner to chauffeur them around. However, cars were not considered a feminine pursuit. Women may drive them, but they were expected to show no interest in them. It would take a very long time for this belief that cars were a man’s domain to disappear (some might argue that it still pervades in some form today).

Perhaps in response to this historical bias, women tend not to show so great an interest in cars as men. They are perceived to choose functionality over form. Where, for many men, their car is a hobby as much as a mode of transport, for many women it is simply a necessity. Could it be that this is a subconscious decision to turn their backs on a world which has historically been so set on excluding them? Maybe this explains the lack of interest in anything which they do not need to know by necessity, and the appetite for cars which deliver them with the most practical technology, rather than those with which they are forced to engage on some level and acquire knowledge of. Classics must exemplify this discretionary world most of all, being that they are the very vehicles of their oppression.  


It would be unfair, exclusionary and just plain wrong, however, to say that all women are disinterested in cars, in the same way that it would be wrong to say that all men are passionate about them. It is true that some women don’t have any interest in cars beyond the most basic meeting of their needs (as is true of many men), but even so, the fact remains that women buy and drive cars. Cars today are, irrefutably, as much in the female domain as the male. If women want to see them as a hobby, they are just as well equipped to do so. Attitudes are changing, and now, even the CEO of General Motors is female, demonstrating a turn in the tide. Despite this, there’s still much to do. But still, it appears to be a step in the right direction.

What Women Want

One of the areas in which these attitudes are most stubbornly pervasive is the classic car scene. You can still guarantee that, if you visit a classic car show, you’ll find a lot of men between 45 and 75 milling around, beer in hand. This doesn’t mean that change is not occurring. Although predominantly male, classics car enthusiasts no longer belong to an exclusively masculine club. Women, particularly baby boomers, have been getting in on the classic car hobby in increasing numbers.

To say that women are supposed to have no opinion on cars, Hagerty Insurance recently published some statistics which show that they know exactly what they want. Here are the classics that ladies love…

Chevrolet Corvette

Everyone loves America’s longest-running sports car. The most popular are cars from the 1950s and 1960s, but the 1970’s Stingray has also seen a surge in popularity of late.

Ford Mustang

The Mustang and the Corvette seem to share a wide-spread popularity across genders and generations. With a dizzying palette of interior and exterior colours available, and an unrivalled degree of individuality, it’s no surprise, really, that there is a Mustang for everyone. 

Chevrolet Camaro

A new-found interest in vintage Camaros is probably attributable to their recent successful reintroduction, which has fostered a surge in popularity for the original. With an extensive array of colours and style options, as well as an impressive amount of power under the hood, it’s no surprise that Camaros enjoy a wide-ranging appeal.  

Volkswagen Beetle

The new Beetle has proved to be an overwhelming favourite amongst female buyers, and the classic version shares its feminine appeal. Beetles make a wonderful first car for collectors, as they’re inexpensive to maintain and a lot of fun to drive. The influx of females only just starting to enter the scene means a lot of first-time buyers, with could explain their run-away popularity amongst female classics enthusiasts. 

Ford Thunderbird         

One of the most long-standing trends amongst female classicists is the popularity of the Ford Thunderbird. Like most of the classics on this list, the Thunderbird is easy-to-maintain and dependable, making it ideal for those just entering the classics scene.

You might wonder why women are suddenly developing this newfound interest in motoring and classic cars. If so, ask yourself this instead: why not? Some of these cars might hail from an era when women were still considered second-class citizens, but today, if they want to add any one of those classics to their garage, they have just as much right to do so as any man – and perhaps that’s where the true appeal of classics lies. Women are developing an interest in classics because, finally, they can.


Buying Your First Classic Car: Everything You Need To Know

Buy wisely and you’ll have a companion for life but, buy poorly and you may be lumbered with something that will cost you the earth without giving you anything back. This guide aims to help you gear up for your first classic car purchase, showing you exactly what to avoid and what to embrace. Here’s everything you need to know:

Investing Wisely: Choosing a Car that Will Hold its Value

One of the main advantages of buying a classic car is the fact that, if you invest wisely, it will hold its value. If you fail to invest wisely, however, this ideal is all but a pipe dream, and maintenance costs alone will see you lose all of your return on the original investment. Of course, there are always those that ‘strike it lucky’, purchasing a car that’s value skyrockets. This is the exception rather than the norm, but it is possible nevertheless. Ideally, when searching for a car, you should look for one where you feel it will hold your investment as a minimum. If the value increases, well that’s just a bonus.

Focus on Practicality, Not Just Monetary Value

Although a classic car may be an investment it is also- above all else- a practical purchase. Much like purchasing vinyl records and keeping them in their sleeves, buying a classic car and not driving it seems as though it is a bit of a waste. You may feel as though your cars value and parts may deteriorate as you drive it but, if anything, the opposite is true, and your car is more likely to deteriorate stood still; especially as the parts start to rust. Although you’ll undoubtedly have to repair your car after driving it continuously, this is one of the chief joys of driving a classic. It may be a love-hate relationship as you make ongoing repairs, but it is worth it when you’re out on the open road.

Practicality Vs. Desirability: What Do You Really Want?

When you’re looking to buy a classic, following your heart is rarely the best choice. You need to think about what suits your driving needs the most. Due to the age of classic cars, they need copious amounts of servicing and maintenance and, as a result, the higher your annual mileage, the less likely it is that you’ll want an older, 1960s classic. Of course, if your annual mileage is low then the world is your oyster, but you’ll also have to consider practicality: who rides in it and when. This will largely inform your decision on what to buy and, if you don’t consider these factors, your dream of owning a classic may turn into a nightmare.

Maintenance, Upkeep and Extras

Also, it is vital to remember that the cost of your new vehicle will not be the only cost associated with it and, due to this; you have to consider your own knowledge, experience and financial situation to ensure that you can afford the vehicle in question. As we’ve already discussed, due to the age of the vehicle, things are likely to go wrong with your classic and, because of this, it is probably wise to enrol yourself on a basic car mechanics course so that you can complete most of the basic repair work yourself rather than paying an engineer for expensive labour costs.

Photo of classic cars

As well as this, have you considered where you will store your new vehicle? Most insurance companies now expect classics to be stored in garages and access to one is nigh on essential both for insurance purposes and as a place to carry out essential repair works. Council lockups are incredibly cheap to rent, so you could look for somewhere like this if you do not have access to your own lockup.

Finally, don’t rush. It can be incredibly tempting to dive straight into the used car market, especially if something catches your eye. However, if you let your heart rule your head then you’re much less likely to end up with something you’ll love for the rest of your life. To help find the perfect car, narrow your options and join a driving enthusiasts’ club. Their knowledge is invaluable in helping you through the first few months as a classic car owner and, they can help you narrow down your classic car search, showing you what is the best car for you.

To conclude, buying a classic car can be a little bit of a love-hate relationship, but it is one that will provide you with great joy, if you choose the correct car. But, if you follow our advice, you really can’t go far wrong. So, search our site and find your new dream companion.


Classic Car Insurance 101: Everything You Need to Know

However, insuring older vehicles can be a minefield. A lot of insurance companies view classic cars as posing a high risk because of their age and their value, and the riskier the vehicle is seen to be the harder it is to insure it. Seen as you can’t drive around without insurance, it’s really important to find someone who understands older cars and can offer the right policy for you and sufficient coverage for your vehicle. Here are a few tips to help you when you’re buying classic car insurance.  

Tip #1

Classic car owners should look for insurance policies that have Stated Value and Agreed Value replacement terms. Normal insurance will pay the car’s Actual Cash Value, which means that if your car is totalled, you receive the depreciated value. However, if you’re the owner of a classic car worth thousands of pounds, then you need more coverage. That’s where Stated Value and Agreed Value terms come in; if you wreck the vehicle, your settlement will be in line with your car’s real value, as the amount you set is a term of your insurance. You should be very wary when agreeing this amount. If there’s a claim and you’re found to have been dishonest regarding the condition of the car, the agreement will be null and void, and you will only get what the insurer believes the car to be worth, despite the value having been ‘agreed’.

Tip #2

To ensure that following the previous tip is worth your while, stay up-to-date with the value of your car, as classic cars, unlike other vehicles, appreciate in value. Review your insurance periodically to ensure that your car is not insured for less than it’s actually worth.

Tip #3

Valuable classic cars should be kept in a garage. Insurance companies are unwilling to insure valuable cars kept outside because they are at an increased risk of damage (due to being out in the elements day after day). If you have a carport you must check with your insurer whether or not this will suffice, as classic car insurers may also stipulate that the car is not only kept out of the worst of the weather, but also locked away. Over 50% of vehicle thefts occur overnight, so some insurers are only willing to cover cars which are securely locked away in a garage after dark.   

Tip #4

Don’t insure anyone younger than 25 on your classic car insurance policy. Classic cars tend to be worth a lot of money, so insurance companies are reluctant to cover younger drivers, who are seen as posing a higher accident risk.

Tip #5

Many classic car insurance policies will only cover you for 2,500 miles per year, so keep an eye on your mileage. If you know that you’ll be driving further afield, call your insurer to check that your vehicle will still be covered if you exceed your annual allowance.

Tip #6

If you don’t plan to drive your classic car every day, then consider ‘collector’ car insurance to save yourself some money.  Collector policies tend to impose conditions re mileage etc., so make sure that these don’t pose any problems before committing to a collector’s policy. 

Tip #7

Limit your mileage as far as possible. Most people don’t use their classic car as their day-to-day transport, and limited mileage policies could save you significant money on your premiums. If you drive your car 1,000 miles a year, don’t insure it for 3,000.   

Tip #8

Even if you only drive your car in the summer and it is garaged in the winter, make sure that it is still covered via an insurance policy. To save some money take out laid up cover, as this will protect your car in the event of a fire or theft but will cost less than comprehensive insurance.

Tip #9

Declare any and all modifications made to your classic car. Most used cars have been altered in some way, so insurers are generally sympathetic to any changes you’ve made. However, if you swap your 1972 MCB 1798cc engine for a 1950cc lump, or add twin carbs to your Triumph Herald, and forget to tell your insurer about it, your policy could be invalidated in the event of a claim.  

Tip #10

If you have to drop your classic car at a garage or repair shop, inform your insurer of this. Although short term stays for routine maintenance generally won’t be an issue, longer stays may be, as classic car insurance policies often stipulate that the vehicle remains in your care, control and custody.

Tip #11

Don’t use comparison sites. Although comparison websites are a great tool for saving money on insurance for modern cars, you’ll get much better deals on classic car insurance by getting in touch with a specialist broker, as they will have access to a far greater range of appropriate schemes.