Automotive
7 minute read - Nov 23, 2020

Guide to the best car auction websites in 2021

Car-buying is shifting gears to be all online! Here’s a comparison guide of the top 7 online classic car marketplaces.
David Gomez
Enterprise Partnerships

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to change and adapt. In order to stay afloat during the shut-downs, even car dealerships have jumped into the curbside delivery business. Car dealers are also investing in new digital sales tools to satisfy their customers' growing need for contactless service.

Although the trend was growing pre-COVID, the pandemic has heightened consumer interest in buying cars online or through car auction sites. We've taken a close look at some of the most popular car online sales and auction sites to see what they offer.

Craigslist used car marketplace (craigslist.org)

Founded in 1995, Craigslist is the granddaddy of website marketplaces and is single-handedly responsible for destroying the newspaper classified ad business. Although you can occasionally find some classic and luxury cars on the site, most sellers offer average vehicles.

To filter out scams and bot postings, Craigslist added a $5 fee for by-owner car ads in 2019. Those scams and a general uneasiness about meeting strangers to test-drive a car have plagued the site, but it still garners 50 billion page views and 60 million visitors a month, according to its fact sheet. And, despite doing no marketing and offering no messaging options other than email or your own phone, Craigslist consistently ranks among the top 20 websites in the U.S. Go figure.

Images courtesy of craigslist.org

What is the vehicle type the website focuses on? General.

What is the price range for the vehicles? Many people use the service to sell and buy average vehicles. On a recent visit to craigslist.com, we saw non-running junkers offered for "best offer" all the way up to a 1957 Ford Thunderbird convertible offered for $250,000.

How does the website look? Craigslist could use a modern update. Other than launching a mobile app in 2019 (finally), the text-based site hasn't changed much over the years. However, it is easy to navigate, and you can filter your options by listing date, price, mileage, model year, and location.

What is the photography quality? The car listings on Craigslist vary widely from no photos to unclear photos to high-quality images. Common mistakes include inadequate lighting, poor angles, and not including both interior and exterior shots.

Facebook used car marketplace (facebook.com/marketplace)

If you're already a Facebook user, you might appreciate the community aspect of Facebook's marketplace for buying and selling a car. All communication is accomplished through Messenger, so you do not have to reveal your email address or phone number, and everything is free.

Vehicles are listed by their proximity to where you live, and you can use search filters for year, make, model, mileage, and transmission type. Launched in 2016, Facebook Marketplace reaches about 800 million users.

Images courtesy of facebook.com/marketplace

What is the vehicle type the website focuses on? General.

What is the price range for the vehicles? A recent Facebook Marketplace check yielded a range of cars ranging from a 1998 Honda Cr-V listed for $630 to a 1969 Dodge Hellcat Charger for $219,000, and just about everything in between.

How does the website look? Facebook Marketplace does not stray far from the appearance of Facebook itself. In fact, you access the site by clicking the little storefront icon on your Facebook page. Clicking on a car you like brings you to its own page, with more description, photos, pickup location, how long it's been listed, how many people have viewed the listing, and how responsive the seller is. It also links to the seller's Facebook profile.

What is the photography quality? Just like with Craigslist, the photo quality runs the gamut. The listings with high-quality images really stand out.

Bring A Trailer (bringatrailer.com)

Bring A Trailers (BaT) is a fast-growing online car marketplace that boasts more than 350,000 users and over 145,000 registered bidders. The site vets each car, accepting roughly 40% of the vehicles that apply to be listed each week. It listed 11,000 cars in 2019, with a sales rate of over 70%.

Sellers pay a $99 listing fee, with the option to add the Plus Photo service for an additional $250. There are no other seller fees. Buyers pay a 5% fee in addition to the final sale price to BaT, with a minimum of $250 and a maximum of $5,000.

Images courtesy of bringatrailer.com

What is the vehicle type the website focuses on? Classics.

What is the price range for the vehicles? On a recent visit to bringatrailer.com, the completed auction prices ranged from $6,300 for a 1971 Fiat 124 Spider to $285,000 for a 1989 Lamborghini LM002.

What is the website like? This website is clean and easy to navigate. The moderated comments section and the sense of community the site's users share are big draws. Visitors can read stories and insights about the cars as the auction process unfolds.

What is the photography quality?  The photos are clear and detailed – probably because most of them are taken by a professional. For an additional listing fee, BaT sends a professional photographer to capture your car's best features.

Bid Garage (bidgarage.com)

The new kid on the block, Bid Garage, launched in August 2020. Buyers can search by style, brand, and region. The advantages for the seller are no listing fees unless the car sells. Then, Bid Garage charges a 5% commission fee to be split between the buyer and seller. The site may be having a hard time getting it footing – on our recent visit, no current auctions were scheduled.

Images courtesy of bidgarage.com

What is the vehicle type the website focuses on? Classics.

What is the price range for the vehicles? Recent auctions included a 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera and a 1979 Datsun 280ZX. On an October search of the site, prices were not listed for these cars.

How does the website look? Bid Garage offers a classy, modern website that is easy to navigate.

What is the photography quality? Bid Garage recognizes how high-quality photos add to the auction process by offering complimentary professional photography services for qualified listings.

AutoHunter (autohunter.com)

AutoHunter lets you navigate the site by make, model, and country of origin for its inventory of classic cars. When you click on one that interests you, you then see more photos and pertinent details about the vehicle. If your car doesn't sell at auction, Auto Hunter will list it on ClassicCars.com until it sells. That bonus gives your car exposure to more than 4.5 million visitors. Sellers pay a standard listing fee of $128 with no sales commission.

Images courtesy of autohunter.com

What is the vehicle type the website focuses on? Classics.

What is the price range for the vehicles? Cars sold at recent auctions ranged in price from $4,750 for a 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle to $68,000 for a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T.

How does the website look? AutoHunter has put together a user-friendly site with a focus on sharp, high-quality photos.

What is the photography quality? AutoHunter offers a professional photography upgrade option and the listings that use this option really stand out on the site.

Cars & Bids (carsandbids.com)

According to the Cars & Bids website, this marketplace focuses on "modern enthusiast cars," meaning "anything that's cool" from the 1980s to the 2020s.

Buyers pay a 4.5% commission, with a minimum of $225 and a maximum of $4,500. Seller listing fees range from $49 for an unreserved auction (or a repeat seller) to $89 for a first-time seller with a reserves auction.

Images courtesy of carsandbids.com

What is the vehicle type the website focuses on? Classics from the 1980s to the present.

What is the price range for the vehicles? A look at recently completed auctions shows a range of $3,100 for a 1989 Lincoln Mark VII LSC to $81,021 for a 2010 Ferrari California.

How does the website look? The site is a bit cluttered with lots of cars on the main pages. However, it is easy to search for and find what you need.

What is the photography quality? Photos are a big part of this site. One car we checked out has 93 images! Most of the pictures on the site are set up well, but some appear to have been taken with cellphone cameras. These shots lack sharp definitions in the close-ups.

Motorius (auction.motorious.com)

Motorius lists vehicles in the following categories: Classic, Full Classic, Tuner, Muscle, Sports, Off-road, Hotrod, Luxury, and Motorcycle. After you click the icon for the category you want, you'll be able to narrow down your search by make, model, year, color, and price. Then, you click on the vehicle to find out all the details.

If you're a seller, you can consign with a dealer, consign with an auction, sell from home, or auction from home. Another option is to allow Motorius to market your car through its network of specialty dealers.

Images courtesy of motorius.com

What is the vehicle type the website focuses on? Classic and luxury.

What is the price range for the vehicles? At a recent auction, a 1969 Pontiac Firebird sold for $27,500, and a 1937 Buick Special sold for $25,000. A spiffy 1964 Alpha Romeo 2600 Spider caught our eye at a listing price of $183,511.

How does the website look? This site lists thousands of cars, some from private sellers, and some from dealers. It's a little daunting at first to figure out what's what. When we visited the site, no new auctions were scheduled.

What is the photography quality? Many of the photos are of the standard shiny showroom floor variety. They do the job but do not offer the personality and flair that these classic cars deserve (and that a professional photographer could provide.)

About the author

David Gomez
Enterprise Partnerships

David Gomez leads partnerships for enterprise Automotive clients at Snappr. He has helped dozens of major players in the industry with their content strategy. He is available for a no-obligation consultation about your Automotive photography needs.

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