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Buying a car online at auction – quick, convenient, contactless

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February 12, 2021
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Buying a car online has never been more popular, quicker or convenient, and online trends have been accelerated by Covid 19 lockdowns throughout the country.

Here we talk to James McWilliam from the sales team at H&H, one of the country’s biggest car auctioneers, to learn a little more about motoring enthusiasts’ new-found confidence in buying a car online.

H&H Auctioneers, a little history

H&H was founded by Simon Hope and Mark Hamilton in 1993 as a specialist auction house dedicated solely to the sale of collectors’ cars and motorcycles. Almost 30 years later the company boasts a continuous trading history which, they claim, exceeds that of any UK rival.

The company has a client database of more than 50,000 records worldwide and its website is visited by thousands of users every day, giving them instant opportunities for buying a car online.

“Our ethos has always been one of transparency, professionalism and client service” James explained.

And it seems to be the transparency that has helped H&H blossom during the lockdown era with online car sales flourishing.

buying a car online
Perks of the job — James McWilliam from the H&H car sales team shows off a super silver 60 year-old Aston Martin. (All pictures: H&H Auctioneers).

Q&A with James McWilliam of H&H Auctioneers

How has car buying changed in recent years?

There is still a great appetite for classic cars but we are finding with older restored cars the value has dropped in recent years. But with the best of the best, and rarer cars, interest and prices are still strong.

What impact has Covid 19 had on buying habits?

People have a lot more time on their hands to research vehicles, much of which these days can be done online. With more time on people’s hands we are finding a lot of people are making the decision to invest in their first classic cars. As in all sectors, the marketplace has had to adapt to enable auctions and buying a car online.

How can people be confident selling or buying a car online at auction?

The first thing is to find an auction house that you trust, one with pedigree and experience. The confidence behind online auctions is taking that time to do your research, ask the right questions and get all the information you have requested either as a seller or a buyer.

How much has H&H turned-over in car sales in the past year?

Total car sales for last year was £8,282,841.20p. Yes, and 20p. It all adds up!

Is that up on previous years?

This is down from our figures for 2019 but buying a car online has increased exponentially compared to actual venue purchases.

What is the most expensive car sold by H&H in an online sale in the past 12 months?

At an online only sale the most expensive car was a Lagonda M45 in our ABC event in June. It went for £184,500.

buying a car online
The Lagonda M45 went for £184,500 — H&H’s highest online only auction purchase last year.

At a physical sale, the most expensive car was a Lagonda LG6 in our Duxford auction in March. That one went for £204,750.

Ironically both Lagondas, clearly they are very popular with our rather discerning customers!

H&H is famed for selling motoring curiosities, what is the most unusual car sold last year?

The most unusual car we sold online was a Rolls-Royce Phantom V1 which was ex-Harrods. It went for £84,375. It’s a very special car with a very special history.

Rolls-Royce Phantom
The Rolls-Royce Phantom V1 — a very special car with a very special history — sold for £84,375.

How quick is the process of buying a car online? 

We work hard to expedite the process of buying a car online, and of selling online. We aim to get a vehicle sold under the hammer, then collected by the buyer or delivered by one of our preferred transport providers within 14 days, so on the 14th day after the sale we can pay the vendor.

How many people buying a car online do so without actually inspecting it first-hand? 

Last year the percentage of people buying a car online without viewing it grew massively due to the pandemic:

  • 2020 86% of vehicles sold without viewing.
  • 2019 32% of vehicles sold without viewing.

Do you organise contactless purchase and delivery when buying a car online?

Yes, with online bidding and clients using our preferred transport providers, the sales process can be swift, contactless and door-to-door.

Can you provide five tips for auction clients buying a car online?

  1. Ask the auction house if they have inspected the vehicle themselves
  2. Request as many photographs to be sent to you so you can study them in detail before buying a car online
  3. Request to view the vehicle in the metal if government distancing guidelines allow
  4. Understand your options for bidding on the vehicle remotely
  5. Do your own homework with HPI and DVLA MOT history checks

And five tips for selling a car at an online auction?

  1. Make sure the auction house views your vehicle
  2. Read through the description the auction house has produced for accuracy
  3. Check the auction house has a client bank account to protect your funds
  4. Check the type of auction is best suited for your vehicle
  5. Make sure your vehicle is well presented in the photography
buying a car online
The Lagonda LG6 went for £204,750 in a pre-lockdown auction.

Classic car insurance when you are buying a car online

If you are looking for a classic vehicle, whether you are buying a car online or not, you will be looking for classic car insurance. That’s where the classic car experts at Adrian Flux can help.

Adrian Flux have been insuring classic cars for more than 40 years and were pioneers of limited mileage policies which help reduce the cost of classic car policies. What’s more, if you have been quoted more than £2,000 for your classic car insurance the team at Adrian Flux are confident they will be able to beat the best quote you have been given.

Visit the website to find out more about classic car insurance cover or call  0800 369 8590 for a quote — 79.5% of all customers receiving an online quote in July 2020 could have obtained a cheaper quote over the phone, based on the information they provided.

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