Millionaire Bargain Hunters: Inside A Luxury Car Auction

Cheap thrills.

The Hall Of Industries is an unassuming building. Just a hangar with a few amenities installed, meant for concerts, presentations and even the odd tech product launch. From the outside, you never would have known that last week, this drab building in the Sydney suburbs played host to millions of dollars worth of luxury and exotic sports cars, as well as the men and women that would vie to become their new owners: the self. It’s auction night here, and it’s a veritable meat market of automotive perfection.

The first hammer will go down sometime in the next 30 minutes or so, I’m told as I file into the hall with the other buyers. I’m not here to purchase anything, just to witness the spectacle that happens only a few times per year.

The millionaire bargain hunters stroll, pick up their brochure and the all-important paddle they’ll use to bid on their next toy, their next commuter car or their next pride and joy. They have been on display for days as bidders file in to inspect them one last time. Many of these cars won’t even be driven, most will just be bought and jealously squirreled away into storage by their new owners. Relegated to a stable, dreaming of the racetrack they were born for.

The merchandise is strewn out all over the hall, ready to be poked, prodded, examined and felt up by every prospective dot com millionaire, investment banker or spoilt rich kid that dreams of calling a luxury car their own.

One man has brought his kids to get them both a new car from the leather trimmed, feature-laden European range. Another woman strolls the aisles saying that she wants something she can drive drive this time, rather than store. The couple behind me say that they want something they can put in their garage next to the other luxury cars they own, arguing back and forth whether the Ferrari or the Lamborghini will hold its value better. Two Gen Y-ers sit across the aisle, bidding on grunty sports sedans to show off with to their mates.

Two yellow-tied men climb a podium in front of the assembled crowd wearing headsets. They wield rolled up sheets of paper as makeshift gavels, presiding over the automotive court like a judge does his courtroom. They are the law here, and words exit their mouths faster than any of the cars on display here today could ever travel. Six other headsetted men circle the room looking for bidders like sharks look for their prey.

In the ears of the auctioneers are the bankers, number men and leasing agents that have repossessed these vehicles from owners that couldn’t pay their bills.

Star performers available include a $600,000 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, a $310,000 Audi R8, a rare Shelby Mustang, a 1977 Morgan 4/4 Convertible, a V8 Cadillac and a beautiful red 1977 MG Mark 1.

Other cars that roll by include the Ford FPV GT Boss 335, Mercedes CLC203 Evolution, Alfa Romeo GT, Audi A1 Ambition, Citroen DS3, Chrysler 300C, Audi A4, Volkswagen Golf GTi, BMW M3, Volvo C30, BMW 7-Series, even a Harley Davidson trots out the door for less than half of what it would go for at a car dealer new or used or even privately online.

Each of the cars is trotted out before the crowd like show dogs, revving its engine, flashing its lights and showing off its flair to make it more attractive to the buyers.

Online bidders vie against bidders sitting in the hall to get the vehicle they want as the auctioneer barks at the crowd. Suddenly the sharks turn into bears, shouting and screaming at the head auctioneer whenever they spy a bid.

At the end of the night, tickets litter the floor, catalogues are left on plastic chairs and cars have been shuffled around the room after being sold. All the cars have been moved on to their new homes now, and some of the star performers included the incredible Lamborghini, the sexy Audi R8 and the beefy Ford Mustang which went for $152,000. The cheapest car to go all night was the 1967 MG B Mark 1 Convertible for a paltry $8500, with the second cheapest going to an Alfa Romeo 159 JTD sedan at $17,250.

All buyers identities were unfortunately kept confidential, but Pickles Auctions have confirmed that the most exotic motors on sale went to private buyers, rather than dealers. No cheap flipping going on here, it seems.

Pickles will hold another auction for exotic and luxury cars in the next quarter. You can read all the auction results here.

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