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Why We Love Auctions (And Yet Hate Them!)

The entire classic motoring world has in the last decade or so become hugely affected by the auction business. Hardly a week goes by without a specialist website, newspaper or magazine headlining the sale of this or that Ferrari, Bugatti, Porsche or other exotic machine breaking a new world record for a sale price at auction – £1.96million for an Aston DB5 at Bonhams in July, anyone? – and here at TCMR we have serious reservations about this.

These are based on the obvious fact that with each new record, the prices of similar if perhaps less pristine or historically ‘important’ examples of the same model will inevitably rise, thus putting them even further beyond the reach of more modestly-heeled enthusiasts. Indeed it’s also true that many if not the majority of these six and seven figure prices are paid for cars that will be carefully stored away as appreciating investments, not used for driving.

So that’s why we frown on auctions. But then we also love them.

For where else would you pay less than £8000 for a thoroughly practical Austin Chummy (as featured climbing across the Andes in our current issue, and owned by Mr Sub-Editor Lilley) or an immaculate, top-of-the-range Mk 3 Ford Cortina for £6000 as eulogised by Editor Williams, also in the current issue? For here is another indisputable fact about classic car auctions: as we know from our friends at Brightwells in Leominster and Bicester, a lot of effort goes into sourcing and assembling a wide variety of our beloved old motorcars for these sales which present rare opportunities for inspection and indeed appreciation of what’s available, and all in one location. And of course, the opportunity to finally acquire something you’ve long lusted after without having to spend months, years even, scouring classified and dealer adverts and then following them up with long journeys to invariably disappointing ends.

So that’s why we at The Classic Motoring Review loathe, but also love classic auctions.