Tips for Buying an Italian Car at Auction

Author: admin / Date: August 9, 2022 / Tags: auctions

Those in the market for a luxury vehicle know that Italy is the birthplace of some of the most lavish sports cars in the world, like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati to name a few. As a culture, Italians value aesthetics very much and that transcends into their automobiles as well. The lines, contours, sounds, textures and overall experience that makes up the amazing beauties we see coming out of Italy each year. 

These vehicles have a look and feel that has inspired lust in millions of car buyers for decades. Italy’s famed automobile manufacturers have designed and engineered top-class four-wheeled machines over the last 100 years, intertwining elegance and tradition. There is pride in the attention to detail and mastery of craft – and their output of high-performance automobiles. As an example, some of the most popular cars in Italy in 2021 include:

  1. The Giulia, by Alfa Romeo – A powerful turbocharged, rear-wheel drive engine, a sleek leather interior, this sports sedan is all thrills on a daily basis.
  2. The convertible Fiat 124 Spider – a fun and affordable roadster that leaves its owner looking for reasons to go for a spin. 
  3. The Ferrari Portofino – 0 to 200 in 10.8 seconds, this car is a beauty and a beast, with a 2-door convertible body featuring a retractable hardtop, ready for ANYTHING!

Owning an Italian car means becoming part of a culture that understands and appreciates the finer aspects of machinery and master artistry, however, purchasing an Italian car can be a bit tedious. With so many options, finding the best deal can be tricky. 

Automobile auctions are a viable option, and though they’re popular among dealers, there are many auctions open to the public. 

Some of the most popular Italian cars to buy used have been scored for amazing deals at auctions over the years including a Ferrari 348 TS, a Lamborghini Gallardo (Gen 1) and even a Fiat Dino Coupe.

When purchasing any vehicle at an auction, you have to understand how an auction works, what exactly you are buying, and how the process goes after the purchase. 

First things first, buying at an auction means saving money! There are two main categories to consider, the first category is Government or police auctions, which include county and city vehicles like buses, police cruisers, utility trucks and more, along with impound cars that have been confiscated due to crime-related incidents or traffic violations. Please note, the prices are low but there are people that dedicate themselves to this kind of thing, so there is a lot of expert competition from used car dealers, taxi companies, exporters and others who know a lot about mechanics, or have mechanics available to check the vehicle, as well as understanding the value of the vehicles that come through. 

The second category is Public car auctions; these may include repossessed vehicles from banks, wholesale lots of cars, flood junkers, bottom-of-the-barrel trade-ins and quite often – high-end, luxury cars. There are even auctions dedicated to exotic and luxury vehicles in the U.S. and around the globe.  

The quality and reliability of the vehicles that come through varies from auction to auction, so be prepared to do your homework.These auctions have become more popular and competition is fierce, so be careful you may end up paying more than market price if you don’t take care not to overbid.

Some things to consider when purchasing an Italian car, or any car at an auction are:

  1. Some cars “end up” at an auction – to die. Some may have been used and abused, and there will be “duds” to look out for. Know what to look for or bring an expert. It isn’t saving if you have to pour money into it for years to come. 
  2. Don’t forget that auction cars have been polished up to look good under the lights, but this doesn’t mean the car is in tip-top condition. Be prepared to check the history, VINs match with dashboard, door and other points of identification. Check them all!
  3. Beware of seller tricks! There are so many ways to make a faulty engine seem perfect. Educate yourself or again, bring someone who knows the ropes. There are consultants and luxury car experts that you can hire hourly. What you’ll spend on them is worth every penny if it keeps you from purchasing a ‘limone’ (Italian for lemon of course). 
  4. Cash, even with an approved loan, is necessary at an auction. If you purchase with an approved loan, you may still be required to put a deposit in cash so be sure to check the auction rules before bidding.
  5. If it’s a bank, you may be looking at the best prices and inventory. These are typically repossessed and the lender just wants to recuperate losses by offering decent prices.
  6. As every vehicle is shown in a specific order, punctuality is key. Typically there is a showlist at registration that you can request. 
  7. Make sure to budget for shipping. If you are far from your home, make sure your purchase is fully approved to receive in your home state. If you do need to import your car, especially back to the States, here are some tips to save on time, money and stress.

You can score some amazing deals at auction, but make sure you know what you’re looking for. It may seem like a rigorous process, but it is well worth the effort. Average savings in vehicles purchased through an auction can range from $4,000 to $20,000 compared to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Be aware of seller tricks and lemons, bring cash and budget for shipping costs. And remember to get car insurance!


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