Auction House Overview

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Collector car actions are a special breed in variety of auctions from auto wholesale, to surplus equipment, to art, antique and other collectible auctions. They are more closely related to art and antique auctions than auto wholesale auctions. Some are timed online auctions and others are live event auctions. You can bid in-person, on the phone, online or via absentee bidding forms, although each auction house likely offers only two to three of these options. 

Finding the vehicle can take some patience and a little help from Block Chaser. Determining the right auction to consign a car with can prove much more challenging. With so many variables to consider, our team of experts can assist. But for high-level overview, here are some of the most established auction houses in the United States and Europe:

Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., televises its auctions, which are viewed by more than 6,000,000 people on digital and TV formats. Auctions are held in Arizona, Florida, Connecticut and Las Vegas. The World's Greatest Collector Car Auctions®, as Barrett-Jackson calls themselves, are part selling experience, part spectacle. Barrett-Jackson started when two car buffs, Russ Jackson and Tom Barrett, met up in the ’60s and went on to form Barrett-Jackson in 1971, which at the time included an automotive repair shop. The current CEO, Craig Jackson, is Russ’s son and has served as the company’s leader since 1995. 

Bonhams

Founded in 1793, privately owned British auction house Bonhams offers fine art, antiques and motorcars in about 400 annual sales, with offices in London, New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. Bonhams is the No. 1 European auction house in motoring, recording world-record prices for several of its cars. In fact, Bonhams holds the current world price record: a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that sold for $38,115,000. Bonhams’ offerings include classic motorcars, motorcycles and related memorabilia at auctions that take place worldwide and in conjunction with global motoring events. 

The Branson Auction

For over 40 years Branson, Mo.-based The Branson Auction, owned and operated by car enthusiast and vintage racer Jim Cox and his wife Cathy, hosts April and October car auctions at the Branson Convention Center. Clients can also purchase or consign collector cars before or after the auction, and absentee bidding is also available. The Branson Auction also offers The Shop at Branson Collector Cars in Hollister, Mo., which services, maintains and restores collector automobiles. Sports, muscle, vintage, classic, custom and antique automobile makes available at auction include makes from Ferrari, Allard, Buick, Chevrolet and Desoto. 

Bring a Trailer Auctions

Founded in 2014 as a subset of BringaTrailer.com by site founder Randy Nonnenberg, Bring a Trailer (BaT) Auctions, based in San Francisco, is selective in the cars it posts each week -- the company says it likes bargains, dream cars and rarities. BaT Auctions works with the seller to collect information on the car and lists it for a week. Each car has an open, live-updated commenting system, backed by car experts, where potential buyers can ask seller their pressing questions. All buyers are prequalified. Makes sold on BaT Auctions include Lamborghini, Porsche, Fiat, Ferrari, BMW and Mercedes.

Carlisle Auctions

Family-owned Carlisle Auctions, based in Carlisle, Pa., and an extension of Carlisle Events, hosts spring and fall auctions in Lakeland, Fla., and Carlisle, Pa. Co-owner and founder of Carlisle Events Bill Miller Jr. has been involved with the company since 1974, and his son, Bill Miller III, serves as partner and auction manager, overseeing daily operations. Carlisle Auctions sells muscle cars, street rods, classic cars, antiques, luxury cars, exotic cars, race cars, sports cars, specialty trucks and motorcycles. Auctions see several hundred cars cross the block. Makes sold include Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Chrysler, Mercedes, Porsche and Pontiac.

Classic Car Auction Group

Host to what it calls “the largest classic car events in the Northern Rockies,” Billings, Mont.-based Classic Car Auction Group offers classic and collector cars, trucks and more. Collector vehicle inventory comes from sources such as private collections, individual owners, specialty designers and resellers. Recent auctions have been in the 150- to 200-car range. Many of Classic Car Auction Group’s auctions are held in Salt Lake City, and bidding can be done in person, by telephone, absentee bidder or online. Makes sold include Aston Martin, Jaguar, Bel Air and Studebaker, along with assorted current American marques. 

Coys of Kensington

Coys of Kensington, based in the UK, specializes in fine historic automobiles and serves as a valuer and auctioneer. The international company has been dealing with fine motorcars since its founding in Queens Gate Mews, South Kensington, in 1919, and its purpose-built showroom at Manor Court in Richmond showcases the finest Coys has to offer. Car makes shown at Manor Court have included offerings from Jaguar, Lotus, Rolls Royce, Mercedes and Ferrari. Coys of Kensington auctions sports, competition and collector cars, as well as motorcycles, and its auctions are held in the UK, Germany, Paris, the Netherlands and Monaco. 

Dragone auctions

Headquartered in Bridgeport, Conn., Dragone Auctions specializes in classic, antique and vintage motorcars and motorcycles, as well as automotive memorabilia, both at auction and in private sales. Buyer bidding is available in person, by telephone or by written absentee bid. Dragone’s small-lot auctions are mainly held at the company’s Westport, Conn., gallery and showroom. Recent makes sold include Packard, Austin Healey, Lasalle, Porsche and Rolls-Royce. The Dragone brothers, George and Manny (Manny is also Dragone’s president) also offer classic car restoration at their Bridgeport restoration facility. Museums and clients worldwide call on the company’s expertise. 

Gooding and Company

Based in Santa Monica, Calif., Gooding and Company sells sports and racing cars, modern collectibles, classics and antiquesat auctions in Amelia Island, Fla.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Pebble Beach, Calif.. Gooding and Company is the official auction house of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®. Live streaming of all auctions can be found in browser-based and mobile device formats. Phone bidding and absentee bidding is available. In addition to auctions, the company also conducts private treaty sales, assists with current market values, provides appraisals and advises clients in estate planning. Makes sold include Maserati, Bentley, Porsche, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Cisitalia. 

H&H Classics

Specialist auction house H&H Classics of the UK was founded in 1993 by Simon Hope, now managing director and chief auctioneer, and Mark Hamilton. Since inception, H&H Classics has expanded beyond cars and motorcycles to include private sales, storage and other services. Business partners include Chateau Impney, Hagerty International and Currency Solutions. H&H Classics prides itself on transparency, professionalism and client service, and its staff consists of hands-on automotive enthusiasts and specialist valuers. The company’s client database extends to more than 50,000 records worldwide. Several of its automotive auctions have set world records for auction prices. 

Hollywood Wheels

Starting out as an automotive transportation and trucking company in 1992, family-owned Hollywood Wheels, based in Palm Beach, Fla., now specializes in classic car auctions and show events in Palm Beach and Amelia Island, Fla. Hollywood Wheels hosts the annual Amelia Island Select Auction on the Omni Plantation Resort.President Mike Flynn Jr. is a licensed car dealer in the state of Florida and has led the company for the past 30 years. Hollywood Wheels specializes in high-end Porsche sports cars, as well as rare foreign, domestic and racing classics, and has held Porsche-only auctions in the past.

Leake Auction Company

A family-owned business, Leake Auction Company has been run by three generations of the Leake family since the first auction took place in 1964, on the Leake site in Muskogee, Okla. The auction company, one of the first car auctions in the country, was founded in 1972. Now headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., and under the direction of Jim Leake’s daughter, Nancy Leake Sevenoaks, and her husband Richard, Leake Auction Company auctions are held in Tulsa, Okla., Oklahoma City, Detroit and Dallas. Bidding is available live at the place of auction, by phone or online (processed by IronPlanet). 

Lucky Collector Car Auctions

Based in Bellevue, Wash., Lucky Collector Car Auctions sticks to the Pacific Northwest, offering local regional collector car sales. Lucky came together through a partnership between the car-loving LeMay family, including patron Harold LeMay, and Cosmopolitan Motors.The tradition continues with Harold’s son, Doug LeMay, who grew up watching car auctions. He founded Lucky Collector Car Auctions, along with auto dealer Evan McMullen. Lucky is an auction company with a heart -- a portion of all its auction proceeds benefit the nonprofit LeMay Family Collection Foundation and other charities. Auction offerings include muscle cars, sports cars, exotics, classics, motorcycles and automobilia. 

Mecum

Headquartered in Walworth, Wis., Mecum has been ranked the No. 1 auction house in the world for number of cars offered and sold at auction, as well as number of auction venues, since 2011. It also annually hosts the world’s largest collector car auction in Kissimmee, Fla. It wasn’t always this way: Mecum’s first auction was at the Rockford Airport (Chicago) in 1988, run by president Dana Mecum and a few friends around the dining room table. Its current offerings include collector car, vintage and antique motorcycles, and road art sales, in more than 20,000 lots per year. Mecum’s auctions are televised on NBC Sports and CNBC.

RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s, based in Ontario, Canada, was formed in February 2015 through a strategic partnership with RM Auctions. RM Sotheby’s is a giant of the industry, the world’s largest auction house of investment-quality vehicles. Its Client Services team provides concierge service and information on upcoming auctions. Services go beyond its worldwide premium auctions to include restoration, private treaty sales and estate planning. RM Sotheby’s global car experts also work with Sotheby’s employee base, located in 40 countries around the world. A RM Sotheby’s collector car auction is definitely higher-end, akin to the art auctions associated with the Sotheby’s name. 

Motorsport Auction Group

Motorsport Auction Group aims to help its customers buy and sell collector cars, American muscle cars, street rods, special interest cars and memorabilia in an enjoyable auction setting. Based in Sparks, Nev., its annual Classic Car Auction takes place during the Reno Hot August Nights event at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. Motorsport Auction Group offers a live online bidding system for those who cannot attend the auction in person. Other ways to buy classic cars at Motorsport’s auctions include by proxy or by telephone. Makes offered include Pontiac, Chevrolet, Ford, Mercury and Buick.

Motostalgia

Austin, Texas-based Motostalgia, founded by Antonio Brunet, offers both online and onsite auctions of high-end, international automobiles in the U.S. market. Motostalgia is also associated with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) as the SVRA’s Official Auction Company, because Motostalgia is expanding its offerings into collector racecars. Motostalgia’s onsite auctions have taken place at the Austin Grand Prix; the Indianapolis Brickyard; Amelia Island, Fla.; and Seabrook, Texas. Makes sold include Maserati, Cord, Lamborghini, Auburn and Packard. In addition to its Austin headquarters, Motostalgia’s Latin America office is in Mexico City, and its Europe office is in Monte Carlo, Monaco. 

Rick Cole Auctions

Based in Burbank, Calif., Rick Cole Auctions was launched in 1978 by automotive industry giant Rick Cole, who conducted the first classic car auction in Monterey, Calif. in 1986, as part of the Pebble Beach Concours. Rick Cole Auctions specializes in classic car, sports and racing car sales, with auctions held in Chicago, Los Angeles and St. Louis. The famed Rick Cole Auctions Monterey auction, held in August, is now virtual and can be accessed through smartphones or tablets. In addition, Rick Cole Auctions offers private sales of rare classic, sports and racing cars.  

Russo and Steele

In 2001, Russo and Steele was launched in Scottsdale, Ariz., by CEO Drew Alcazar and his wife and business partner, Josephine, with a focus on European sports cars, American muscle cars, hot rods and customs. Drew Alcazar created the “Auction in the Round” concept, which allows buyers, sellers and auctioneers to sit on platform seating all around the same stage with the cars, with no separation between auction goers and merchandise. Russo and Steele holds three auctions a year: Scottsdale, Ariz., in January; Newport Beach, Calif., in June; and Monterey, Calif., in August. In 2019, Russo and Steele plans to add an auction at Amelia Island.

Silverstone Auctions

Based in the UK and founded in 2011, Silverstone Auctions offers telephone, online and of course in-person bidding on its automotive auctions. These auctions are both standalone events and held in conjunction with major European motorsport events, such as the Silverstone Classic Festival, and major classic car events like the NEC Classic Motor Show, Race Retro and Salon Privé. Silverstone Auctions offers classic cars, modern supercars, competition cars, motorcycles of all stripes, and automotive memorabilia and lifestyle pieces. Makes sold at recent auctions include Harley-Davidson, Bentley, Porsche, BMW and Aston-Martin.

Vicari Auction Company

Harvey, La.-based Vicari Auction Company hosts auctions of classic and muscle cars in locations across the southern U.S., such as New Orleans; Biloxi, MIss.; Tampa, Fla.; and Nocona, Texas. Vicari’s largest auction takes place in Biloxi during October’s Cruisin’ the Coast event. Bidding for all Vicari Auction Company auctions is available by absentee bidder and online. Some of these auctions are televised on “Bidding Wars,” as seen on NBC Sports Network. Auctions can also be watched live on a high-definition video stream on Vicari’s website. Makes offered at auction have included Ford, Chevrolet, Porsche, Dodge, Ferrari and Lotus. 

Worldwide Auctioneers

This Auburn, Ind.-based vintage motorcar auctioneer, founded by specialists Rod Egan and John Kruse, offers catalog-based auctions and focuses on quality rather than volume of cars sold. Worldwide Auctioneers also offers several other specialized services to its customers, including private collection sales, collection management and consultancy, estate management, appraisals and custom logistics. Promotion of its offerings across multiple platforms, such as social media, print and online channels, is part of the package, since marketing and promotion are major focus areas of the company. Worldwide Auctioneers also employs a specialist team. Regional sales take place in Houston and Auburn, Ind..