It's a site that sends out a siren call to many auto enthusiasts.
It's called Bring A Trailer (BaT) and many of us spend too much time looking at it on a daily basis. It's a gearhead's utopia of rare, vintage, and unique vehicles for sale all in one location.
While the site features Craigslist, eBay, and other classified ads its bread and butter is its own auction system, BaT Auctions, which launched in 2014.
Like most of you, I daydream on BaT. I didn't know the reality of buying and selling a car.
That all changed recently when I sold my 1991 BMW M5 via BaT.
One simply doesn't list a car for sale on BaT
BaT isn't Craigslist. You don't just sign up and list a car for sale.
No sir, you submit a candidate for sale.
Peruse BaT—no broken-down jalopies or commuter specials. The site is meticulously curated and is kept clean by a screening process done by real live humans.
Cars are accepted behind these virtual velvet ropes.
Once I decided to take the leap—I cried, I'm not ashamed to say that—the process was simple. Sign up, enter a bunch of pertinent information ranging from mileage, records, and all the other information shoppers want to know when looking to drop cash on a car their significant other might not know about, and click submit.
BaT takes a few days to screen submissions and your approval can take up to three business days, they say. Thanks to a couple of friends in low places—and the legendary E34-ness of my M5—my approval was much quicker than advertised.
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So you were chosen
After reviewing my submission the team at BaT felt my E34 M5 was worthy to list. (How could they not? It has an S38 under the hood with ITBs. C'mon.)
I paid the listing fee of $250—it's worth noting that's the only money sellers have to pay throughout the entire process—and was assigned a friendly BaT staff member named Chris.
Let's be real, I probably drove Chris nuts with my questions, but throughout the process he answered each and every one.
Let's talk reserve pricing for a second: When you submit a vehicle you are asked if you want a reserve, which I did. When BaT was piecing together my listing, they wanted to talk about my reserve price. Namely, its crackpot-ness. We went back and forth a few times with their suggestions, logic, and mine, and finally agreed to what was a more than fair reserve price.
(For the record, I was right regarding the value, and my original reserve would've been irrelevant. Yes, I'll take my pat on the back now.)
It's worth noting that if a car doesn't hit the reserve price it technically didn't sell, but the highest bidder can connect with the seller to try and work something out. Further, if the final auction price falls just shy of the reserve price BaT reserves the right to make up the difference to complete the transaction.
Once my listing was put together the BaT team asked for my blessing. I gave it to them and we were off—sort of. Listings are staggered to keep from overwhelming the site.
Bring A Trailer auction
Bring A Trailer auction
The emotional roller coaster
Then it happened: My listing went live. I saw it hit the site, RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and everything else.
I think I vomited.
My thing, my car, and my transitional object was probably leaving me. What have I done? Who sells their baby blanket?
Naturally, I started having second thoughts.
Was this a mistake? Could I pull it from BaT once it was live?
I told myself to shut up and let it be. It worked, for a minute.
Day One saw a flurry of activity. Comments, questions, BaT regulars vetting both the car and I, you name it. Of course, some bids came in as well.
Then it died. Not much happened on Day Two. Day Three was the same. By Day Four of the auction, I started getting nervous. The bidding stalled at $7,000 and I was having panic attacks.
If we are honest, I started having issues far worse when the car first hit the site. I had issues sleeping, focusing on the tasks at hand, my conversations were constantly about me selling the car and whether it was the right thing no matter who I was talking with.
Of course I ended up reaching out to my BaT advisor, Chris, with questions about the bidding and fishing as to whether people ever cancelled auctions. He was frank with knowledge and thoroughly answered my ridiculous questions.
He told me most of the activity occurs during the first and last days. Even more specifically, the auction really heats up during the last hour—or even minutes.
When it came to canceling auctions, he told me it doesn't happen. Once, in 200 auctions, has he seen a car pulled. The reason? Because the seller crashed his daily driver and needed the car that was up for auction as transportation.
1991 BMW M5
Then it ends
At Day Seven, I kept the car listed even though the bid is still at $7,000 and I'm not feeling so hot about this.
Could my wife make a BaT account, bid, and win? That's questionably illegal, and unquestionably immoral. Did I mention how much I love that car? (For the record, I love my wife more for even suggesting it. She's amazing, folks.)
We hit the four-minute mark and things started heating up in the bidding. It jumped to $10,000, quickly.
Half a minute went by, and then a war erupted. Things moved so quickly my BaT email alerts couldn't keep up.
BaT's killer app came into play: the anti-snipe feature. When the clock hits those final two minutes each bid resets the clock back to two minutes. It's impossible for someone to come in at the last second and snipe a vehicle simply by outbidding the last guy with a fast click.
The last two minutes, lasted about 14—though it felt like forever—as the clock kept resetting with each new bid made past the two-minute mark.
Finally, it ended. My car sold, and I think a part of me died at that moment.
An email from BaT came in informing me of the final purchase price (like I didn't know?) and provided the buyer's contact information. I didn't want to call him.
It didn't matter. Within a minute my phone rang with a number I'd never seen before. I knew it was him.
I'll say this: Coincidentally, the buyer is also in the auto industry. The car was bought as his family car because his son is cramped in his E30 M3. It'll live a family life down in California where the air is dry, the roads are clean, and hopefully, it'll remain in the same condition he gets it.
Why would I care? Well because I love the stupid thing, but also because the buyer was kind enough to offer me first right of refusal if he ever ends up selling it.
You can imagine how elated my wife was to hear such a thing.