I do not lead a particularly orderly life in many ways.


I may even be the complete opposite of obsessive compulsive behavior with a few exceptions: grammar, spelling and lack of attention to details on auction cars.


I realize that I fight a battle about attention to detail every time I attend a car auction or watch a car auction on TV.


The Barrett-Jackson auction provided a glaring example of an owner who missed a crucial detail on a 1971 Plymouth Road Runner; the guy failed to include the famous Beep Beep horn on the car.


As a matter of fact, he forgot to include any horn at all in his car and the TV guy showed us the wires to the horn instead of the horn itself with its signature sound. The TV ritual will always include a traditional horn honk if it is a Road Runner and if it has a horn.


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The owner of the car did himself a huge disservice and may have even cost himself a few bucks with his casual approach to detail. He has imprinted a basic message on the potential buyers that he does not truly care about the car enough to solve a horn problem on a car where the horn matters more than on most cars.


Picture the average car guy at an auction. He is as skittish as a whitetail deer at an NRA convention because he has to take a gamble that the vehicle of his dreams does not become the vehicle of his nightmares.




He knows little about the vehicle other than a visual inspection of the car before it hits the auction floor. The owner is an anonymous face in the crowd who has his own reasons for selling the car and the potential buyer has little opportunity to take his inspection beyond a superficial look at the car.




The buyer has reason to fear the unknown and yet he is willing to take a leap of faith that all is as it appears with the vehicle. But little things matter a lot to the buyer so he will notice a missing horn, a burnt-out light, a missing piece of chrome, a dirty engine compartment or a filthy interior.


The potential buyer will notice everything about the vehicle because he is trying to talk himself out of the purchase and he will look for reasons not to buy it more than he will look for a reason to buy it. Lack of attention to detail will send up a giant red flag and he will be looking for red flags of any size to convince himself not to buy the vehicle.




He will itemize the flaws and apply that information to his purchase price high water mark and may even breathe a sigh of relief when the price pushes past his limit. He will pat himself on the back and conclude that a guy who never even cleaned the trunk mat never really cared about the car and is likely just another curber.


The devil is indeed in the details-or lack of same-when it comes to old iron.


Jim Sutherland

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