Graph of the Week: 10 Cars That Don’t Sell Well at Auction

At auctions, if bidding doesn’t meet the reserve price, the car doesn’t sell. Simple as that. The proportion of cars that meet reserve and sell to cars that don’t meet reserve and do not sell is referred to as the sell-through rate. And there are some cars that just don’t sell as often as others when they cross the block at North American collector car auctions.

With the notable exception of Barrett-Jackson, the majority of cars offered at auction have a reserve price that is set by the consignor. While Barrett-Jackson conducts their auctions at no reserve, the other large auction company that moves the most cars – Mecum Auctions – allows consignors to place reserves. Mecum has been consigning newer vehicles over the past year, and pony cars like 2010-‘15 Camaros and 2008-‘16 Challengers are among them. Around half of the unsold newer Camaros and Challengers are Mecum cars, and the same is true of the Austin-Healey 3000, the Shelby GT350 and the Dodge Coronet. It’s possible that Mecum is more lenient about letting consignors set high reserves, and that bidders don’t share the same opinions regarding the cars’ valuation.

As for 1982-92 and 1993-2002 Camaros, certain very low mileage or special edition examples have achieved big auction results, which have encouraged owners of any Camaro of these vintages to sell. But the truth is that it’s only those low mile and special editions that collectors prize greatly, so the reserves on more ordinary examples have likely been overly optimistic. Overall, though, cars with wide gaps between sellers’ expectations and the prices that bidders are willing to pay are mostly American, relatively new and possibly still nearing the bottom of their depreciation curves.

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