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How to bid at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance car show

August 17, 2012|By Jerry Hirsch
  • The interior of the 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster that will be sold at the Pebble Beach car show auction.
The interior of the 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster that will… (Gooding & Company )

Want to bid on the Blue J, a 1929 Duesenberg Model J Phaeton, or the Van Krieger roadster, a Mercedes that was hidden for decades? How about going for a vintage Bentley?

These cars and classic Ferraris, Porsches and Bugattis will be auctioned this weekend at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance car show.

A credit card will cover the $100 for two tickets and a catalog, but not much else at the auctions held by Gooding & Co., the Santa Monica collector car sales firm.

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And be prepared to cough up some serious financial information if you want to bid.

To get started, you will need to provide a "bank letter of guarantee."

This is typically a letter from a bank or other lender that says the bidder has the financial wherewithal to bid up to a certain limit, said Morgan Carter, Gooding's vice president.

The letter must say that it will "serve as notice" that the financial institution "will irrevocably honor and guarantee payment of any check or transfer order" written by the account holder up to the pre-determined limit.

"This could be a bank, a credit union or a finance company such as Ferrari Financial Services," Carter said.

With the right credit rating, the Italian car company will finance your purchase, regardless of the brand.

"They have learned that there is just as much money lending on Bugattis as there is for Ferraris," Carter said.

Gooding & Co. also will want bank account information and a signed document in which you promise to abide by the conditions of the sale as published in the catalog.

That includes, for example, the fact that the amount of the final bid is less than what you would actually pay. As is standard in the collector-car auction business, Gooding slaps a 10% premium on the so-called hammer price.

So if you just spend $10 million on the Von Krieger Mercedes, which is the minimum amount it is expected to bring Sunday night, expect to pay another $1 million.

All of this is to avoid someone bidding on a vehicle and walking. 

"We have a duty to our sellers to bring in people who are qualified to bid for the vehicles," Carter said.

Gooding & Co. expects 1,200 to 1,300 people to attend each of its two auctions during the auto festival, although Carter said it was impossible to know in advance how many of those individuals will actually bid for a car.


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