BAT madness finally broke me
Like most auto journalists – and car enthusiasts in general – I have three ways of doing silly things online that involve cars. We read sites like this. Two is to build and price cars from light to wild – affordable to only if I win the lotto – on the manufacturer’s consumer configurators. The third is to browse the Bring a Trailer (BAT) auction site to see what’s for sale that day. One day the just right Fox-body Mustang will be available and within my budget. One day.
As anyone who spends time on BAT or competing sites like Cars and Bids can tell you, the vehicle mix is amazing and far more varied than what you might see at Mecum or Barrett Jackson. These auctions tend to feature muscle cars and antiques, while BAT offers more opportunities to find a rough diamond. You might be able to find something special in a deal.
Of course, if you spend enough time on BAT, you’ll notice that some, if not most, of the sale prices are a bit, how shall we say… fucking crazy?
Note: This auction ends today on this 1995 Nissan GT-R V-Spec $ 250,000. This price is higher than the average price of housing in some parts of the country.
Yes, the car is rare. Yes, auctions tend to drive up prices because of a simple principle: buyers who really want something will pay whatever it takes to own it, even if it means paying too much. I understand all of this, which is why we don’t cover BAT often – this stuff is obvious and has already been covered.
But when you start to see quarter-million dollar prices for a GT-R or maybe the first $ 250,000 Toyota Supra (so far no Supra has $ 150,000 compensated on BAT, although the Fast and furious Supra fair recovered over half a million at another auction), you start to wonder when the price hike will end. Especially during a pandemic that has really hurt a lot of people financially. Yes, there are obviously buyers with the means still there. Yet the madness makes your eyes pop.
To be clear, this is not one of those rants against the rich. If people can afford to pay $ 250,000 + for a 26 year old car, especially one that has a reputation for flawless performance, they can spend it however they want, as long as it’s legal. I also understand that there is little that BAT can do to stop some bidders from raising the price of the more affordable iron to the point where the average Joe / Jane is taken out of the game.
Yes, it’s annoying when that latter scenario takes place in an auction involving a car that shouldn’t be too expensive. It’s one thing to see a really high bid on a rare GT-R, but quite another to watch a regular Fox body or Camaro go from “hmmm I could rock that” to “whatever” in a short period of time. . period of time.
Having said that, I know BAT is not going to change any time soon. This means we’re probably going to start seeing rare ’90s supercars going for a quarter of a million or more a lot more often.
The GT-R is just the tip of an iceberg of madness, or just good ol ‘work markets, depending on your perspective. Of course, these two views are not mutually exclusive – one can understand and appreciate the market from an auction while believing that the market is not rational.
That is to say, if the market is irrational – some would argue that given the rarity of some of these older cars and their desirability, the price paid makes perfect sense.
I think that’s why my brain is a little broken here – the combination of seeing cars auctioned for 5X what they cost new (not adjusted for inflation) and knowing that’s the way auction sites will work from now on. It makes sense that a rare and desirable collector’s car makes a lot of money – arguably more than it’s worth – at an auction, especially understanding how auctions work and how they’re different from auctions. a dealership or private seller who advertises the car at a set price on a site like Autotrader.
Yet I also think anyone will pay as much for a GT-R 1995, as rare as it is (especially in Midnight purple paint), or well-maintained, or how much GT-Rs are loved.
There’s a mismatch between the part of my brain that says “scarcity + demand + bid = $$$$ and that makes obvious sense” and the other part that the two of them can’t imagine parting with so much money. for this car at the moment and is also appalled that other car auctions that I could actually afford can be so heavily influenced by a few well-heeled bidders that the cars are becoming out of reach for most of the market.
Again, it’s one thing if a car is scarce and desirable, and quite another if irrational bidding pushes up the prices of common metal.
It’s a stark truth, but unless something changes in the vintage / enthusiast used car market, the six-figure Supra is here to stay.