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seized car auctions

The first time I attended a seized car auction I bought a car with 10,000 miles for $6,600.

I have to admit this was very fortunate.  I came to the auction because the car I owned had a transmission issue.  It was an older car and I went to the auction to see what it was like.  I did not expect to buy a car.

I attended an open, public auto auction at S&W Towing in Atlanta.  They were a towing company that Dekalb County used.  The police would seize cars and have S&W Towing remove the cars and store them at their lot.  You had to pay the towing fee plus a storage fee to retrieve your car.

The car I bought had been stolen in the state of Florida.  It was a four door Dodge Neon ES.  The thieves drove the car to the Avondale Estates neighborhood of Atlanta and abandoned it.  Eventually the police had it seized.  S&W Towing removed it and kept it at their facility on Mountain Industrial Boulevard.  I do not recall the full address.

dodge_neon

No one claimed the car.  It was stolen and no thief would turn himself in.  It remained at towing company for 3 months.

After 3 months had passed a Georgia state judge re-titled the car for sale.  This would allow S&W Towing to auction the seized car to recoup their costs in towing and storage.

The towing company held public seized car auction every other Saturday.  The neon just happen to be up for auction the first morning I attended their auction.

Most of the other cars that were up for auction were damaged.  I assume they had been written off by the insurance companies judging from their conditions.  Many were not in a condition to drive.  Most of the auction attendees were mechanics or garage employees.  Each of the public auctions I went to had these mechanics buying damaged cars for parts.  These mechanics were not competition.  They were not looking for functioning and therefore expense cars.

Several small used car lot owners were also at the auctions.  These people were my competition.

The auction process was straight forward.  We were all allowed to walk the lot prior to the auction and few the cars.  I spent a large amount of time looking over the neon.  I was trying to find damage or some other reason it was for sale.  They did not announce that the car had been stolen.  I only found that out later.

The auctioneer then started the process.  He walked from car to car and each time went through the bidding process.  They was no specific order in my opinion.  Whatever list he had was organized in some manner I could recognized.

Again, many of the automobiles were wrecks.  One or two mechanics would bid on them.  They would sell for just one hundred or two hundred dollars.  At those prices, if the mechanic could salvage two parts from it, he would likely have broke even if not realized a profit.

Finally we collectively reach the neon.  The bidding was between me and the used car lot owners.  I had in my mind decided to go no higher than $6,000.  They were many bidders to start but it quickly came down to just me and one other person.  At $5,000 and beyond we were trading bid back and forth at $100 increments.   He would bid $5,100.  I would bid $5,200 and so on.  I got nervous at the nervous at the the $6,000 mark, but I decided to go a little higher.  I honestly believed I would not get the car, but I would give it a good shot and at least make it expensive for him.  When he suddenly stopped, I was surprised.

I can only guess that he thought I was not going to stop.  I made the decision not to continue to drive up the price.  Immediately after the auction moved on to the next car he approached me.  He offered my a few hundred dollars more for the care than I had paid.  I rejected his offer.  I was looking for a new car.  I figured this one was worth at least $10,000.  It was the ES model with some upgrades and would have sold brand new for $15,000.  I did nor do I now have exact figures for the price of the car.  But I had been looking a automobiles.  I new roughly what a small car like this was worth.

The next step was arranging payment.  I had one week to come up with the cash.  I had not planned on buying a car and did not have $6,600 on hand.  I had some money, and then I opened some credit cards with introductory offers. My plan was roll the balance over every six months to a new card.  Back then such credit cards offers seemed to arrive in my mail box each week.  With this combination I was able to come with the $6,600.

I went to S&W Towing the next weekend and I exchanged the money for the car.  I immediately took it home for a wash and vacuum.  This gave me a chance to look closely at the car.  I was able to confirm that it had no visible damage.

That is the story of the first auto I bought at an seized car auction.

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