Back View: #2 – Online Auction Growth Emerges in 2020

Year in review

The world of classic car auctions kicked off 2020 like any normal year with Arizona Auction Week and the massive Mecum Auction event in Kissimmee, Florida. A few weeks later there was the Amelia Island contest and various auctions.

But in mid-March it all came to a halt faster than an F1 car heading into a hairpin bend. Dozens of live auctions around the world were canceled and auction companies quickly struggled to move sales online.

Although some online auctions, such as’s own AutoHunter online auction site, are already in development, in 2020 they started appearing like microwave corn. Bring a Trailer had become the big player, but it was joined by a number of other online-only auctions, including Bids, Hemmings, Stratus and, of course, AutoHunter.

With coronavirus infection problems forcing them to cancel on-site live auctions, major auction houses began holding their auctions online instead; Gooding & Company and RM Sotheby’s ran a succession of internet auctions that generated millions in sales.

2020 became the year auction customers flocked to the internet to buy and sell their collectible cars. Selling rates increased across all platforms, and cars worth $200,000 and above that were considered unsaleable online began selling steadily.

Before the pandemic, the online auction environment was seen by many experts as an afterthought to the excitement of live auctions. That changed as online classic car auctions became big business, and in doing so, helped make another year’s lemonade lemonade. Consider that Bring a Trailer sold to Hearst for what would have been around $40 million.

This created a disruption in the market. The continued success of online auctions in the acquisition and sale of cars, and for those that are online only as well as those linked to traditional auction formats, makes the Internet a powerful force for the future of the car market. collectible cars.

What will happen in 2021 is anybody’s guess. My prediction is that the top online auctions will continue to grow, especially those with bigger business behind them, and will remain an increasingly important part of the classic car auction.

I wouldn’t be surprised if physical auction companies continued to increase their own online sales to the point of holding fewer in-person auctions.

Whatever happens, online auctions are here to stay, and they should make the collector car market in 2021 even more interesting.