BaT's $4.1M Bugatti Record Reinforces Online Auction Dominance

The Daily Vroom

Good morning Vroomers!

Time for a little more in-depth analysis from yours truly on some of the hits and misses from last week's record-smashing sales. While we may not see another $4 million moonshot this week, there's still an absolute smorgasbord of amazing cars crossing the virtual blocks at every price point.

It's interesting – despite the overall volatility rocking the wider classic car market with values yo-yoing all over the map, the online auction platforms have managed to remain surprisingly insulated from those ups and downs so far. Consistent as ever, providing stability in an otherwise choppy environment.

But who knows how long that equilibrium lasts with the way things are shaking out economically? All I know is there are some seriously stellar lots on tap this week that I'm licking my chops over. We'll dive deeper into the headline auctions that have caught my eye in just a bit!

Top Weekend Sales

If you’d like to view the auctions, just click on the cars.

2019 Ford GT $905,000

1989 Porsche 911 (930) Turbo LE $189,600

2024 Mercedes-Benz G550 Final Edition $184,000

1977 Porsche 930 Turbo 3.0 $152,000

1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible $125,000

BaT's $4.1 Million Bugatti Sale Reinforces Shift Towards Online Auction Dominance

Friday was a monumental day for Bring a Trailer with their 2nd highest sale ever – that 2022 Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport hauled in a staggering $4.1 million! The only BaT sale higher was that 2017 Ferrari LaFerrari that went for $5.36 mil back in '22.

We've covered that Bugatti before, but let's dig into what this monster result really tells us about the overall market.

First off, it reaffirms what we already knew – wealthy buyers have no qualms bidding silly money on high-end rides at online auctions. Two deep-pocketed whales were flinging bids back and forth right till the bitter end on this one.

When inflation is raging and interest rates are sky-high, it seems the ultra-rich are still out hunting for any perceived "bargains" in the stratospheric car world. Just look at the heated live auctions – the truly primo metal is still trading at obscene prices.

My spidey sense says the Bugatti's new owner is a seasoned collector, but this was his first ever BaT score. I've seen it play out time and again – guys who know exactly what they want finally pull the trigger after lurking on the sidelines.

And that brings us to the next key point – where was this buyer purchasing his toys before discovering BaT? I'm willing to bet the live auction circus was his former happy hunting ground. Every titanic sale like this is another dagger in the heart of those antiquated auction houses steadily bleeding market share year after year.

Now don't get me wrong, there'll always be a place for both online and live auctions. But digital is undoubtedly where the growth is headed. Think about the astronomical costs of running those live spectacles – swanky venues, small armies of staff, mega marketing budgets and so on. To recoup those immense overheads, the auction companies are forced to slap on double-digit fees hitting both buyers and sellers!

In this Bugatti case, the buyer would've been bent over a $500k+ premium if he'd purchased through a live house. Here on BaT, he's paying a relatively measly $7,500 fee. Even if the online platforms started capping premiums at say $20k for $1 million+ sales, it'd still be an absolute steal.

I just looked it up – a 2022 Chiron Pur Sport model listed at Amelia earlier this year? It hammered for $3.6 million…but with almighty $400k+ in Buyer's fees tacked on! As a buyer, you're damn well going to factor those crazy costs into your max bid, inevitably leaving money on the table for the seller.

So if I'm a high-end seller, I'm absolutely considering hitting up the online auction route before any live events. That extra revenue you can pocket is legitimately life-changing money. Sure, I get that live auctions cultivate a certain carnival atmosphere and attract a different crowd and all that. And maybe some elderly billionaires still have an aversion to cyber-bidding (bless their souls).

But it's 2024 already! If you're a reasonably smart buyer of high-zoot toys like this, you're doing your due diligence on where your dream car is being auctioned. And if it happens to be online, you sure as hell can save yourself one helluva chunk of change compared to those dinosaur live houses. Do the math – it's a no-brainer!

Bargain Buys Gaining Traction?

With that MONSTER sale of the Bugatti on Friday, I wanted to dig into the full day's numbers to see just how much of that total haul was driven by BaT themselves.

Well folks, the overall sales figure was a 2024 record-demolishing $11.8 million…and get this – BaT accounted for a cool $9.8 million of that insane one-day total! Truly spectacular stuff. Some auction outfits would kill for those kinds of numbers across an entire year, let alone a single day's take.

Drilling down further, BaT kept the pedal mashed on Saturday with that $905k 2019 Ford GT sale we featured above. But get a load of this – they also had another stupendous day with 95 actual hammer drops! Of those 95 sales, over 20% were sub-$10k buys. This is the first time I've really noticed them moving such affordable bread-and-butter type stuff, like this 1972 Chevy Nova that went for just $2,600.

Now I always kinda thought BaT's full inventory was more selective, specializing in special/unique models in some way. This new high-volume approach with plenty of affordable mainstream classics mixed in really takes me back to BaT's early days, which I'm absolutely vibing with.

So then I went back and examined the April 2024 vs April 2023 data to analyze the bigger trends, and since I was already mining those months, I figured I'd pull Cars & Bids into the mix too for a head-to-head compare.

First up is the big dawg BaT – they crushed it with over $8 million more in total sales than last April, despite only around 300 more vehicles finding new homes.

As for Cars & Bids, their total number of sales was up by 60 units year-over-year. But the average vehicle sale price dropped by 4 grand, and they had double the percentage of sub-$10k sales compared to April '23.

Alright, let's take a look at the latest red-hot numbers in May and zoom in on this trend of lower-priced entry-level classics hitting the virtual auction blocks.

When it comes to sub-$10k sales so far this month, Cars & Bids has seen that percentage double yet again to now sit at 4.2% of their total inventory moved.

But get a load of this – BaT's number has gone completely stratospheric! We're talking 18.3% of their May sales being total bargain basement stuff under 10 grand. Many of those affordable lots are just stone-cold regular rides with no real distinguishing qualities.

Now I'm not here to cast judgement or anything. If opening the floodgates to more mainstream, common classics is BaT's new tactical direction, hey, more power to them. It's definitely a noticeable shift from their previous laser-focused curation where they seemed far more discerning about accepting only true enthusiast models and special/unique vehicles.

Has there been some recent change in philosophy or policy over at BaT HQ?

They used to be the gatekeepers of an exclusive club, but these latest stats hint at new marching orders to diversify the inventory and appeal to a wider range of budgets. Curious to see if this affordable classics push remains a priority, or just a temporary blip! Let me know your thoughts.


Collections have been an absolute gold mine for some of the auction platforms looking to showcase killer cars bundled up as one badass ensemble – usually at no reserve to really get those bidding paddles hot and heavy! Just last week we touched on how Hagerty has been cleaning up with their tightly curated Collections, often no-reserve affairs that they frankly wish they could run daily if possible. We've also witnessed BaT and SOMO flex their curatorial might with some seriously successful Collections of their own. No doubt about it, this focused Collections approach has been a proven winner for any site willing to put in the effort.

Speaking of BaT, they just rolled out their latest dream garage – the AMG Black Series Collection. A murderers' row of some of Mercedes' most unhinged track weapons, including some certifiable unicorns. You can get the full lowdown and peruse the lineup right here. As for some of the other major players I haven't mentioned, they really ought to be actively exploring adding Collections to their own platforms and surfacing prime slices of automotive magnificence for their audiences. The results speak for themselves – Collections have consistently moved the needle in a big way for those willing to take the plunge.