Opinion: Low Mileage car auctions are a bad deal
In reality, they're not worth anything
It seems like one of the only things that car journalistic outlets can talk about these days is x old car selling for a stupendous amount of money on an online auction site of some sorts.
They're everywhere now; you can even come here onto DriveTribe and some weeks are fulfilled with such stories. The general theme consists of two things: 1. the cars are usually modern classics (or youngtimers, as some people refer to them as) and 2. they always have a ridiculously low mileage reading.
But what almost nobody seems to be talking about is what the case would be like after purchase. It's all fun and games when you've been notified as the winning bidder, but what about the aftermath?
Today, I'll do my best to explain why these auctions are mostly a bad deal - and ultimately - a bit pointless.
Let's deal with one of the larger elephants in the room: the mileage of the subject car.
This to me, is pivotal to why these auctions are not a great thing. You will always find people commenting clichés like "it's a proper driver's car, manual gearbox, N.A engine etc." but just how much of those aspects can the new owner embrace?
Some cars have had as little as 30 miles on the clock. Who the hell is going to drive it if that was the main reason for its worth? If the subject cars were driven as intended, the values would plummet to the point of every other example in average condition. So, you have to ask yourself: what's the point of buying a driver's car that you can't... well, drive?
Realistically speaking, these mint examples are only of any worth to a museum of some sort. Usually, the cars don't cover a lot of miles and are maintained purely for display purposes.
And let's be real for a minute: a car with such little miles won't have had the same quality of maintenance as a well-used example. A car with such little miles could be a mechanical nightmare. This begs the question: how is the car in (realistically) worse condition than an average car way more expensive?
So, for anyone who would reasonably enjoy a good drive on occasions, they're just not worth it. Which neatly brings me onto the next point.
If you sit back and think about these auctions for a minute, you may realise that they may have a detrimental effect on the market for normal examples of such cars.
Of course, if thousands of people suddenly flock to Autotrader thinking about the same car, then that's fine. That's how the market is behaving and has done since forever.
But in some, if not a lot of cases, sellers of cars will use the low-mileage story as an excuse to ask an extortionate amount of money for their rough, scratched-up example of a subject car. These are the cases that do infuriate me personally as no evidence of maturity, sense or logic is evident in that person's mind. It flows perfectly with the 'I know what I've got' stereotype. A number of dealers are particularly guilty of this, but I won't mention which ones.
I won't mention which car it is, but since sales consisting of silly money for mint examples did their rounds, some average examples have been on the market for literally years... and are still for sale! At this point, you have to ask yourself: just how much are people really willing to pay for them?
Image credit: Jeep
To sum up then, I strongly believe these low-mileage auctions are a bit of a scam. The cars can be mechanically poor and can't realistically be enjoyed as they should, yet they inflate the egos of some owners of average examples, thus creating difficulty in the market for honest enthusiasts.
Of course, you could argue that these sales inflate the market in general. But that's part of the classic car market; you'll suddenly have more people thinking about the same thing, thus an increase in demand.
But while an increase in demand is normal, I wholeheartedly wish some people would go back to being collectively sensible rather than silly and ambitious. Low-mileage cars do more harm than good to the car community.