An entire warehouse is full of people waiting in eager anticipation. Some are sitting in chairs, others are pacing anxiously as they wait for the next one to roll out. Then, as if a spotlight shines on the corner of the room, a red 1955 Chevy Bel Air appears. It cruises down the front stage as all eyes remain fixated on this classic car. That's when the auctioneer bursts: "Auction is on—anyone got a bid—anyone got $5,000—I got $2,500—anyone got $4,000—would anyone bid $4,000—I got $4,000…"
Auto auctions are a chance for owners and buyers to come together and bid on every kind of car imaginable. For owners, it gives them a chance to make a profit on that car they've been taking care of all those years; they don't want the hassle of storing it anymore and want to turn a profit. Buyers, on the other hand, have an opportunity to own cars they've had their eyes on for years. They may even get a good deal on a car that they wouldn't be able to get anywhere else.
Whether it's a major auction like Mecum or Barrett-Jackson or a smaller one by government agencies intended to get rid of aging vehicles, there's no shortage of energy and enthusiasm at these events. They also bring together a wide variety of people, from enthusiasts to collectors to spectators who just want to see what all the hubbub is about. As often as we see the actual cars on display at these auctions, what's less visible are all the events going on behind the scenes. We're going to pull back the curtain and show you what goes on outside the public view while cars are being auctioned off.
25 Ferrari Up For Auction
This photo captures the wide range of dispositions people carry at a car auction. Many are standing around more than likely in anticipating of the auctioneer to kick things off. A shiny red Ferrari sits in the foreground with a driver pulling forward.
Although many look at the car in wonder, they're more concerned with who's bidding on it. If there's a chance they could win it, they'll certainly give it their best shot. Although people may not look happy here, it's just because they're focused on the auction.
24 Clownin’ Around
Car auctions have the potential to get a little crazy. This photo is from a YouTube clip uploaded by Manheim Auctions shows a clown in the backseat of a BMW. In the video, the clown grooves and shakes his body to the electronic music playing out of loud speakers.
It's humorous to witness considering everyone else around the BMW looks serious and consumed by their work. Later in the video though the entire scene changes and everyone starts dancing.
23 Made In The US
This car auction isn't shying away from showing its patriotism. Above the myriad of would-be buyers and bidders hangs the US flag. Beside it are rows of TV screens for people to look up and see the latest cars available at auction.
It's a fiercely competitive event that falls in line with the country's spirit of capitalism. The yellow tape on the shiny floor signals where the cars come through for people to get an up close and personal look at what they're bidding on.
This photo comes from a Barrett-Jackson auction event. According to Experience Scottsdale, the auction group has been around since 1971. They tend to throw auctions in Scottsdale, Arizona, in Palm Beach, Florida, in Reno, Nevada, and in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This photo shows the raised auction booth in jubilee as it looks like the man pointing with a microphone in his hands is saying, "Sold!" People raise their hands and clap for the new owner of this blue convertible.
21 Australia's Ultimate Classic Car Auction
This car auction specializes in classic cars. It's an event called Australia's Ultimate Classic Car Auction, according to the site Pickles, it had a good turnout with 300 showing up; just as many people also tuned in online to bid.
Cars in the collection include a 1964 Ferrari 330 GT, a 1962 Brabham BT11A and a 1977 Holden Torana A9x. From this photo, the cars all look good in top notch shape. By the end of the event, they managed to sell 48 cars in all.
20 Packed Room
By the look of this audience, it seems the auto auctions are going strong. It doesn't show signs of stopping either. AZ Central reports that millennials are coming out to auto shows and picking up the torch from past generations.
McKeel Hagerty, who the same paper interviewed, said, "Millennials are really joining the market because the oldest of them are 35, turning 36." This photo shows both young and old congregated together in a packed auditorium to see prized cars on display.
19 From An Auctioneer’s POV
This photo gives a rare glimpse from the point of view of an auctioneer. They tend to stand or sit in a large booth raised up above the floor. They reside from this perch in order to see everyone on the floor so they don't miss any raised hands or bids.
Looking to the left of the frame, one can see a whole line of cars waiting their turn to roll through. There're a lot of cars to go through and its the auctioneers' job to keep things rolling along.
18 Carlisle Auctions
This car auction is a sight to behold. In essence, it's a glorified parking lot filled from end to end with cars, E-Z Ups and interested bidders. According to Corvette Online, this is Carlisle Auctions in Pennsylvania. With a bird's eye view of an aisle from above, one can see the long rows of colorful classic cars with open hoods.
It would be hard to stay focused at an auction like this one. It's recommended that would-be bidders come with a car in mind, or they might easily get sidetracked.
17 Auctioning Barn
It almost looks like this auction room took place in an enormous barn with the wooden beams and architecture. It's ironic considering many cars that go up at auction were once barn finds. Here an auctioneer or presenter is addressing the crowd with a raised hand.
He looks as if he's in the middle of an impassioned speech. Everyone looks on with interest as the screen shows car after car, a background description and the price of the car. These events can feel like a barrage on the senses.
16 Under The Hood
These auctions can be such a big deal they even televise the events. People gather around the tube to see what cars get auctioned off and how much people are willing to pay for them.
The value of these cars is all relative depending on one's personal interest and nostalgia for them. This attendee looks both stoked and amazed by the car that sits before him. With its hood popped open, and a peek at the motor, it's enough to excite upon witnessing these cars in person.
15 High Energy Auction
Some car auctions get so popular that there isn't anywhere left to sit. That ended up being the case at this one based in Hamilton, Illinois. According to the Herald-Whig, the auction back in April 2018 ended up putting over 500 vehicles up for auction.
They had to contend with a potential blizzard, but they managed to push through it despite four inches of snow coming in just days before. This photo shows many of the bidders standing up because there's no room left to sit inside.
14 A Large Audience In Attendance
In most photos depicting car auctions, the camera is facing the other direction: looking at the auctioneer and the beautiful car on display. Here though the reverse is in effect. Instead, we look out at the audience of prospective bidders and spectators who are all gathered to see the fleet of vehicles roll out one by one.
Many in the crowd look distracted, others intent on the show before them—yet they're all unified in their love and interest in cars.
This photo gives a sense of how big the crowds get at auto auctions. It also gives one a sense of the room's scale and the capacity required to accommodate all those attendees.
For those new to car auctions, Hagerty recommends showing up early, buying the best car one can afford and pre-registering beforehand to ease one's mind the day of. It may not all fall into place the first auction one attends, but returning for multiple outings could lead to the car of one's dreams.
12 Ferrari 430
A Ferrari is going to get a lot of attention anywhere, most of all at a car auction where everyone is there to bid. Without a doubt, this is one of the coveted items of the day at this Manheim auction.
People crowd around the red shiny vehicle, which according to Philly.com, once belonged to illegal narcotics dealers. Law enforcement seized the vehicle and now it's at an auction open to the public. The same source notes that someone paid $115,000 for this Ferrari 430.
This car auction is low-key and doesn't have as much glitz and glamour as a Barrett-Jackson would have. It's a great way to get a used car at a decent price nonetheless. Wards Auto reports that auctions can take place in person or even online; one of them that offers both is Manheim.
One of the representatives with Manheim notes that although digital interest is going up, the physical auctions will still be around while integrating an app that bidders can access.
10 Rolls-Royce Up For Grabs
There may not be a car in this photo, but these folks certainly have their eyes on one. They're all hopeful bidders. Some look pained, others in a daze, while some are grinning ear to ear.
According to Philly.com, they're looking on at a Rolls-Royce that Manheim is auctioning off in Pennsylvania. Any car from Rolls-Royce is going to induce a wide range of emotions, so it's only natural the crowd would look on in anticipation. It makes one wonder who the lucky one was to walk away with it.
9 York County Auction
Car auctions can take place anywhere. This one isn't inside of a massive warehouse with colorful lights and a red carpet, but rather outside on the corner of a street. According to York Daily Record, this is the York County Drug Task Force auction.
On this particular day, they had 30 cars to auction off, including a 2007 BMW 335i. The cars belonged to criminals who sold illegal narcotics and had their vehicles taken away. Now, the general public has a chance to bid on them.
There are auto auctions held all over the world. This particular one, as 3D-Car-Shows notes, is Burchmore's and takes place in Cape Town, South Africa. It may not be as big or as glamorous as some of the other auctions on this list, but it's full of people looking for a rare find or a dependable car for cheap.
The same source notes that many buyers look for safety features they can depend on without breaking the bank. A car auction won't guarantee one finds what they're looking for, but if they do, the savings can be huge.
7 Freed Ferrari
This low angle shows the Ferrari making its way out of the showroom and outside into the real world. Some interested parties look on at the beautiful car, either before or after the auction. These car auctions attract all kinds of interested parties, whether it's someone looking for their ride, or an exotic to add to their collection.
It just takes one auto acquisition to turn it into a collection. From there, an owner can do some work on it and trade it up from there to expand their fleet.
6 Bustling Bidders
This room is jam packed with spectators. Some may not even have a good view of the vehicles as they roll down a row up front. It's more about the atmosphere of participating in an event that only comes once a year.
Y101 Radio notes that it's the Sullivan Auctioneers Annual Collector Car Auction that takes place in May. They've been going since 2006. Back then, they had sold 40 cars, where events today sell hundreds. It's a testament to the event's popularity and how much it has grown since then.
5 GMC Crane Truck
One can see red and silver streamers hanging from the wall, bidders standing by and an auctioneer's booth in this small warehouse, which is enough to make it an official car auction. It may not have all the bright lights and professional look, but it's enough to attract interest.
This is an example of what one Perryopolis Auto Auction looks like. It appears that in this moment, they're auctioning off a GMC crane truck to the highest bidder, which is a practical piece of machinery.
4 Green Classic Pickup
People look on at the next car up for bidding. This organized event is set to sell cars as bidders look on. Some have drinks in their hands, other phones and pieces of paper—they're all interested in what cars are available today.
At this moment, a green classic pickup truck is up at the moment. The place isn't totally packed, but there's definitely a warehouse full of folks who hope to go home with a new ride for an affordable price.
3 Sprocket Auto Car Center
This shot gives an up close and personal look at some parked cars up for auction. According to Ford Hood Sentinel, 300 people turned up for this auction back in 2017 that took place at the Sprocket Auto Car Center. There were 52 vehicles in all.
One can see from this photo some of the sedans that were up for auction. A few look on as attendants check under the hood to see that everything is in working order and can actually drive off the lot.
2 Local News Interview
A car auction can have an impact on a community. This one managed to get the attention of the local news team. A few of the news reporters covering the event are interviewing someone involved in the car auction.
There's a camera crew to capture it on film and a boom operator who uses a pole to record the interview. In the background are some beautiful cars on display including a black Ford Mustang. According to a YouTube clip of the interview by Kim Ferguson, this took place in Vancouver.
1 Auction Under The Bright Lights
The lights in this warehouse may be low, but that only enables the signs to shine that much brighter, attracting bidders and auctioneers to the cars. According to the Winona Daily News, this particular auction had a total of 250 cars.
Among those include hot rods, hemi rides and race cars. The best part about it is that it was open to the public. It's hard to pass up an opportunity of seeing cars like this up close. This man looks happy to be a part of the auction.
Sources: YouTube , Herald-Whig , AZ Central , Hagerty , 3D-Car-Shows , Wards Auto , York Daily Record , Philly.com , Corvette Online , Y101 Radio