Car auctions have become a TV hit thanks to extensive coverage over the last twenty years so auctions have been turned into show business.


They are run with a format that may or may not be familiar to some of the viewers because TV conveys the excitement and flashy stuff but an auction is a business first and entertainment second in the real world.


MSCC went to an expert in the auction world (Bob Knutson at Michener Allen Auction) to explain the process in five basic questions.




1-How do you register to bid and what is required as a bidder?


“Interested parties can register to bid by coming to our location with a driver’s license with photo and sign for a bid book and agreeing to the terms listed in the bid book. They can also bid conveniently from home online by going to and following the instructions step by step. This would take a novice only five minutes. A valid credit card and cellphone number will be required.”




2-Can I go for a road trip in a vehicle I’m bidding on?


“Vehicles at the auction are consigned and sold as is where is, there are no keys given out. With the volume of product and buyers/sellers there would be chaos if keys were given and vehicles moving about. No one goes to an auction thinking of spending retail so there is an element of risk that needs to be accepted.”




3-What is a reserve?


“A reserve is a preset minimum price the seller is willing to accept. This is not the best way to participate in an auction because it will bring out less buyers. I believe auctions that are unreserved work best. More buyers participate because they KNOW everything sells to the ONE willing to pay the most. It creates huge excitement.”




4-What happens if I win a bid?


“The winning bidder will show and confirm their bidder number and sign a “block sheet”. At MAA winning bidders are expected to put a 10% deposit (or $500 minimum) on sale day and the balance by the following Monday—as stated in the terms of the bid book.”




5- Is there any kind of warranty with the vehicle?


“Auctions are advertised and ran as “as is where is”.   There will however be arbitration if the seller neglects to disclose: Out of Province, True Mileage Unknown or Salvage/Rebuilt..  There is potential for arbitration for lien or criminal situations as well but the overall expectation of the buyer should be that it is buyer beware and his/her purchase is “as is where is” so there will not be any implied warranty.”


Car auctions have become mainstream thanks to TV and that’s generated more interest in the car hobby so thanks to Bob, you’ll know how it works when you stick your arm up to bid on that ’65 Mercury.   



Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.