Online car auction site threatens ‘dinosaur’ rivals

Only about a tenth of buyers insist on viewing the cars before purchase, and they are typically older bidders more used to physical auctions and dealers’ showrooms.

Instead, buyers have access to hundreds of photos detailing any dings or scuffs and can question the seller before making a bid.

Meanwhile, “the younger generation, the Amazon generation, seem far more willing to look at the photos, register a car, click ‘bid’, and just get on with it,” Mr Lovett said.

Collecting Cars’ success comes amid a squeeze on the supply of new and used cars at the top and bottom of the market’s price range, with the average price of a second-hand car soaring more than a third last year.

A global shortage of computer chips has forced car makers to slow production and left buyers waiting up to 12 months for some new car models.

The rise in prices has led to a boom for car dealers. Lookers, one of the UK’s largest, is set to post a record profit, led by margins on new and used vehicles, it said last week.

This has also affected collectibles as the wealthy splurge the gains they have made on a soaring stock market, while new luxury cars are also at a premium, with wait times running to a year.

According to Swiss bank Credit Suisse, the number of global dollar millionaires jumped by more than a tenth in 2020, to 56.1m, a trend that will only have continued alongside a boom in global stock markets last year. 

This is good news for margins, but bad for finding more cars to sell.

“One thing that has been challenging however, with the market being so solid, is finding cars to list, because everyone’s out there hunting” for them, Mr Lovett said.

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