Classic car buyers who have been to many different auctions know all the tips and tricks, which means they'll be the ones walking away with the coolest cars without spending a huge amount of money. If you want to compete with them, you'll need to learn and use some of these various tips for buying a classic car at auction.

  • Cars sell on visual inspection alone, so be certain to look the vehicle over completely. Watch for signs of repair or for areas that look like they may have been quickly covered. Do more than just look, too. Sniff the carpet if it looks moldy and touch an area that appears to be rough. Don't bid on the vehicle if anything looks off.
  • If you do decide to buy a classic car that might need a little work, be honest with yourself. Don't buy it if you know it's going to cost more to repair it than you can afford or if you know you may not have the technical expertise to fix it. Also remember to factor in the cost of car insurance for custom cars into your repair budget.
  • Assume the worst. Always expect vehicles sold at auctions to have been touched up, polished, or even quickly patched up just to get them to the auction. Assume every car is going to need something done to it.
  • Check the transmission and oil dipsticks. Cars that have been well-maintained will have clear, clean dipsticks.
  • Do research before going to auction. In many cases, you can find a list of the cars being auctioned off online before the auction starts. Do some research on any of the vehicles you might want to bid on, including getting an idea of their value. If you're not certain of the value or if the bidding goes above it, walk away. Make use of your smart phone, too, to look up information during the auction itself.
  • Check the vehicle's VIN. Look at the VIN on the windshield, then compare it to any other place where the VIN might be listed, like on the door or the trunk lid. If you see any VINs that don't match up, it means that the car has been rebuilt.
  • Watch other bidders and see what vehicles they're going after. If you see a bidder who keeps bidding and then dropping out, he might be trying to drive the price up. If you attend a number of auctions, you'll start to know the regulars and the types of cars they go after.
  • Above all, remember your budget. Most people don't think about spending more than the cost of the car, but you always need to factor in paying for anything that might need fixing, the cost of car insurance for classic car, and more.

  These are just a few different tips to keep in mind if you're going to buy a classic car at an auction. Remember to always think before you bid and don't get caught up in the excitement of a bidding war.