Car auctions can be exciting. The sights, the sounds, the throngs of people milling about, the superb automobiles up for sale, and the thrill of the bid. Throw in classic cars, from the Model T to the ‘70’s Camaro and everything in-between and the excitement jumps up a notch. It’s one thing to bid on an expensive car; it’s another to bid on a piece of history. We spoke to a professional car detailer at ( and learned a little more about the process of detailing classic cars prior to entering the auction house and the last minute detailing that takes place after the vehicle has been purchased.

When searching for outstanding deals on vintage vehicles, there’s no better place to start than at a smaller venue. You’re more likely to get a deal and you won’t be haggling against high rollers looking to make their mark. For every Barrett-Jackson car auction in Scottsdale, there’s a small mom-and-pop auction in Oklahoma that may just have that diamond in the rough.

The Leake Car Auction held in Oklahoma City each year, is far from a mom-and-pop auction; it is an event. Bidders sign up months in advance and preview the vehicles up for auction and then plan accordingly. Last year’s sales included a 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 for $209,000 and a 1968 Shelby GT500KR Mustang for $154,000. Too rich for your pocketbook? Other great deals abound; you just need to be patient and diligent to find them.

While many other investments are garnering only minimal gains or, no gains at all, investments in certain classic cars has appreciated by almost ten percent a year. Depending upon the make and popularity of particular cars, buying one can be a financial windfall. Keep in mind that there may be hefty restoration costs associated with an older vehicle which may dip into your profit margin. To ensure you don’t wind up losing money on an auction venture, it is important to follow some specific rules.

First and foremost, know your product. The value of a vehicle can fluctuate wildly from year to year, and you will want to check the year, mileage, title and condition of the vehicle. A vehicle “restored for auction” could be a red flag. Don’t fall for a shiny coat of paint. It is important to inspect the vehicle and if necessary, bring a mechanic to look it over. Make sure to start modestly, as well, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience working on cars. Spend some time at the auction site to become familiar with your surroundings and the vehicles. It could also be helpful to meet the auction staff and let them know you are interested in bidding on a certain vehicle. When that car comes up for bid, the “bid spotters” can make sure you are included in the action. Be wary of the free alcohol that may be flowing; many auction houses will ply patrons with alcohol to not only guarantee a good time, but to help you loosen your purse strings. Drink modestly, especially if it is your first auction. If you are interested in a particular type of classic car, it is important to research how much a complete restoration would cost because that should dictate the amount you are willing to pay.

When you find out the minimum bid on a vehicle, you will want to know what else is included in the sale price—if the car is a convertible, does a hardtop come with the purchase price, for instance? You will want to know your limit, too, so that you don’t get caught up in “auction action” and wind up bidding on something you don’t want or can’t truly afford. Remember there are also fees the auctioneers charge called a buyer’s premium; you’ll want to know that fee so you can factor it into your total bidding price. You’re also responsible for taxes and for shipping if you don’t like in the state and you are not driving it home. The numbers add up quickly; make sure you are prepared.

When you engage in bidding, you will be bidding against people who buy cars professionally. They have to buy cars at a low price so they can make money when they turn around and sell the car. If you are purchasing the vehicle for personal use or for a long term investment, you might be able to outbid these professionals to secure the car for your very own. There are different styles of bidding; be prepared for the professional dealers to use psychological tricks to try to win. Some bidders will start out aggressively, others will jump in at the last second. Overall, it should be a fun process.

Once you have purchased your vehicle, if you plan to drive it in Oklahoma, you will need to secure classic car license plates. The state regulation deems cars to be classics if they were manufactured 25 years prior. There are also special plates for classic car owners who only drive state highways for exhibition and historical purposes. To register your new acquisition, you can obtain an antique car registration through the Tax Commission. You’ll need to supply the necessary documents, including an application form, and standard fees to ensure your car qualifies as a classic. Don’t forget to obtain classic car insurance and to submit that to the state Tax Commission unless you will not be driving the vehicle on state roads or highways. In that case, you will complete a non-use affidavit, stating you will not be driving the car, and you will receive a special decal. Note that there are special registration fees for classic cars in Oklahoma and that a registration can be issued from anywhere from one year to ten years.

February is the next big Leake Auction in Oklahoma, so there is still time to prepare. With most auction houses, you can log onto their website to preview the vehicles they will be featuring and then you can start your research. You can also sign up as a bidder in advance. Then, it is time to prepare your strategy—and your wallet—for your bidding adventure. You could come home with the classic car of your dreams!

Categories: Automotive

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