How to Buy at Auction

An auction is the simplest and most trusted way to buy a collector car—and RM Sotheby's makes the process easy.



Browse the Catalogue

Visit our website to browse the online catalogue for all our auctions, including full lot listings, descriptions, and photos of each offered lot.

Inspect Lots of Interest
Prior to each auction, you can view our offered automobiles onsite during listed "Preview" times. RM Sotheby's Car Specialists and Research teams are on hand to help answer any questions or provide any additional information you may require. If you are unable to attend the auction, please contact our Client Service department, who will be happy to provide you with a complete condition report and any accompanying history files.

Register to Bid
Register for onsite, telephone, Internet, or absentee bidding on our website. Registration is simple and only takes a few minutes. You may also contact our Client Service department for alternate registration options should you be unable to complete the online form.

Payment/Shipping
Following a successful purchase, payment is due in full on or before 5:00 p.m. on the first business day following the auction. Payment options include wire transfer, certified checks, and personal checks accompanied by a Bank Letter of Guarantee. Our Administration department will follow up with you post-sale to help facilitate payment and shipping. RM Sotheby's works exclusively with Reliable Carriers, the most well-respected transporter of collector cars. We're happy to provide you with quotes for shipping and help arrange the delivery of your vehicle to your home.

Titling
RM Sotheby's ensures your car has a clean and transferable title prior to the vehicle crossing the auction block. After a successful purchase, the title will be transferred into your name by our Administration team and delivered to you via courier. At this time, it is your responsibility to register your new vehicle with your local Department of Motor Vehicles.

Enjoy!
The thrill of acquiring a collector car may start with the auction, but the pleasure of enjoying it lasts a lifetime!

GENERAL AUCTION ROOM TERMS

Auction Lot
Each car crossing the auction block is given a lot number. Lots are sold in sequential order, typically starting with lot 101. If the auction is two days, lots on the second day will start at lot 201. At auction, we sell an average of 20–25 automobiles per hour. 

Bid Display
The bid display screen will show you which lot is currently being offered, along with the current bid price (in multiple currencies). If you find it difficult to follow the auctioneer, refer to the bid display screen as your reference.

Bid Spotter
Bid spotters act as assistants to the auctioneer by watching the audience for bids that the auctioneer may not see. Should you wish to bid, get a bid spotter's attention and they will help relay your bid to the auctioneer.

Auctioneer
The auctioneer is the official conductor of the auction; the person who accepts bids and declares lots sold or not sold. Lots offered "without reserve" are sold to the highest bidder; lots offered "with reserve" must reach a minimum bid amount set by the seller in advance. The auctioneer will announce when the car has reached that point by telling the audience the car "will be sold." The reserve price, set by the seller in advance, is not disclosed to the bidders so as to protect the seller's interest.

Commentator
The commentator's job is to introduce each lot and give a short description of it prior to the auctioneer opening up the lot for bidding. Pay close attention, as the commentator will occasionally announce new information regarding the lot that supersedes information that may have been seen online or in the catalogue.

Telephone Desk
The telephone desk represents clients who are unable to attend the sale but still wish to bid. RM Sotheby's Representatives working the telephone desk represent those clients who wish to bid over the Internet (via live online bidding on rmsothebys.com), over the telephone (by calling the client approximately three to five lots before the lot of interest comes up for sale), and via absentee bid (by representing a maximum bid left in writing prior to the sale, until either the bidder has won the lot, or the bid has been surpassed).


 

 

 

 

Onsite Bidding

Bid onsite in person.

If you are interested in bidding onsite, you can do so by registering prior to the auction by clicking on the button below. You also have the option of registering onsite during the auction preview hours. For bidders whose registrations have been completed and accepted by RM Sotheby's in advance, bidder credentials will be available for collection at the Bidder Registration Desk onsite at the auction venue during the preview and auction hours.

General Bidding Requirements:

  1. Driver's License or Passport Identification
  2. Bank Letter (French Bank Letter, Italian Bank Letter)
  3. Copy of Dealer and Resale Tax Certificate (North American dealers)

Telephone Bidding

Place your bids over the phone through an RM Sotheby's representative.

If you are unable to attend one of our auctions or would prefer to place your bid(s) while onsite over the phone, you can arrange to have an RM Sotheby's representative call you to relay your bid(s) to the Auctioneer on your behalf.

You will need to provide:
  • Your phone number(s)
  • Your preferred language
  • The lot(s) that interest you (so that we can call you at the correct time)

General Bidding Requirements:

  1. Driver's License or Passport Identification
  2. Bank Letter (French Bank Letter, Italian Bank Letter)
  3. Copy of Dealer and Resale Tax Certificate (North American dealers)

Internet Bidding

Place bids online in real time through your web browser, smart phone, or tablet.

If you wish to bid from the comfort of your home or office, or while on the go, simply return to our website on the day of the auction and click the BID NOW button. Our website will allow you to live stream our auction and bid on the lot(s) you are interested in in real time. Those who are new to the bidding process are urged to register in advance of the sale, as they will be required to create an account with a username and password.

General Bidding Requirements:

  1. Driver's License or Passport Identification
  2. Bank Letter (French Bank Letter, Italian Bank Letter)
  3. Copy of Dealer and Resale Tax Certificate (North American dealers)

Absentee Bidding

Unable to attend in person?

RM Sotheby's offers absentee bidding to those who cannot attend our auctions. An RM Sotheby's Representative will bid for you on your chosen lot(s), starting with the lowest possible price, up to your pre-set maximum limit, until you have either won the lot(s) or your bid(s) has been surpassed.

You will need to:
  1. Select any lots that interest you.
  2. Set the maximum amount you want to bid on each lot.

General Bidding Requirements:

  1. Driver's License or Passport Identification
  2. Bank Letter (French Bank Letter, Italian Bank Letter)
  3. Copy of Dealer and Resale Tax Certificate (North American dealers)

What to Consider When Buying a Classic Automobile

 

Automobile collecting has matured and is on par with the collection of fine art. With 20 car specialists strategically placed in key markets around the world and six full-time researchers who pride themselves on thoroughly establishing the provenance of every car we offer, RM Sotheby's is able to advise clients through every element of investing in a classic automobile.



Condition
Is the car entirely original, or has it been restored? If it was restored, how recently and thoroughly was it completed, and was it carried out to period-correct standards? In what state are the paint, chrome, interior, and other components of the car?

Specification
Is this the most desirable presentation of this particular model or year? Does it include the best combination of optional equipment? Is it equipped with the most powerful engine? How popular or rare is its color combination?

Authenticity

How does the car's presentation today compare to the day it was built? Is it a numbers-matching car with its original engine, transmission, chassis, and body? Can its originality be substantiated with factory records and other documentation?

Provenance

Who acquired the car new, and is the sequence of subsequent owners known and documented conclusively? Are any of these owners prominent to the extent they might add value to the car? In the case of a competition car, was it raced by any famous drivers, or did it win any notable races? With a road car, did it secure notable awards at prominent concours d'elegance events?

Price
How do prices compare both at auction and privately for this particular marque, model, and year? How much do condition, provenance, and specification play a part in its value?


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