Note: In the first part of this article Bob talked about the history of Bring-a-Trailer (BaT), what it does, who created it, and how it works. If you missed it, you can catch up with Bat, and I Don’t Mean BATman … Who Are These Amazing Guys?
So now let’s talk about the process of selling on BaT, and I will tell you about a long-time friend who just sold his spotless 1967 MGB Roadster on the site. Earlier this year my friend Dan acquired a 1959 MGA Twin Cam, a unicorn in the British car world with just over 2000 produced over a two-year period. While purchased in largely original driver-quality condition, it was going to take a pretty good cash infusion to get it up to Dan’s high standards. Hence, his MGB, lovingly restored over 13 years, was on the chopping block.
It sold on November 13 for $28,750. Dan’s research indicates it was the highest price paid on Bring-a-Trailer to date for a stock, non-V8, MGB. Among MG enthusiasts 1967 is known as the high-water mark for MGB’s, with wire wheels, overdrive, metal-dash, toggle switches, chrome bumpers, and leather seats, all with a pre-emissions drivetrain.
So, while it was a happy ending, Dan describes the experience as difficult. The process of inputting your description and photos/videos is not for the computer illiterate. Professional photography is available for a premium. And you must wait for your submission to be accepted, usually within days of the application. This starts with what Bat considers a reasonable reserve, a topic we covered in Part One. A Bring-a-Trailer staff editor writes the description based on the seller’s pictures and documentation, without the subjectivity or accolades you would expect to see in other collector car listings. They want, “The facts and just the facts.” I imagine lawyers were involved with that business decision.
There were several back-and-forth iterations of the car’s listing description. Many of Dan’s descriptive adjectives were rejected as insufficiently specific; Dan finally accepted the editor’s text. This process was surprisingly frustrating and emotional to the seller. After acceptance of the application, it took nearly a month before the seven-day auction went live.
As the auction began, the comments began flowing in. Most were complimentary, as it was clearly a very nice example of the marque. Dan’s supporting pictures clearly depicted a car that was in pristine condition and carefully restored with an eye for detail and originality. BaT supports direct contact of potential buyers to ask questions and clarifications, including setting up appointments for a personal inspection of the vehicle. Several interested parties contacted Dan directly, resulting in lengthy conversations. Dan welcomed these exchanges as another way to describe the car more fully. However, the top three bidders never contacted Dan.
Most of the comments were by owners of similar cars or those who previously owned an MGB. And a few were quite poignant, indicating the emotional attachment we have for the cars of our youth and why we love these cars so much. Interestingly, very few of the actual bidders made any online comment. Perhaps their strategy was to hide in the weeds and pounce at the last moment before attracting attention to their interest. And serious buyers can rely on the opinions of “experts” to confirm the desirability of the car.
BaT seems not to mind if the seller is aware of seriously interested parties; they even offer to put the highest bidder and seller together if an auction fails to meet the reserve. Additionally, BaT encourages seller participation during the auction and with additional photos or videos if requested.
Comments are limited to those focused on the auction vehicle and can be flagged as “not constructive” and removed from the comment thread.
Finally, at the end of the auction, BaT resets the auction clock for any bids within the last two minutes to prevent last-second “sniping.” This can lead to exciting finishes. As you can see in the bidding history of Dan’s car, there was a flurry of bidding at the end of the auction, and the ultimate sales price nearly doubled in just the last day of the auction. Talk about spirited bidding… it is exactly the kind of passion, enthusiasm, and excitement Bring-A-Trailer provides for both arm-chair collectors and the guys who write checks.