Record-Breaking Porsche Sale Shows the Ascendancy of Online Auction Sites
Bring a Trailer sold a Porsche Carrera GT for $1.9 million, the highest amount ever at auction
When cars sell for record prices, you’d expect those sales to come from highly reputed auction houses like RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams or Mecum Auctions. However, the latest headline-making blue-chip sale has come from an online-native auction site, yet another signal of the rapidly changing landscape in the collector car world.
On Wednesday, a low-mileage 2005 Porsche Carrera GT sold for $1.9 million on Bring a Trailer, the highest price ever paid for the coveted sports car at auction. It beat the record of a $1.3 million Carrera GT sold on Bring a Trailer in September 2021 and a $1.21 million example sold at Mecum the month before, as reported by Bloomberg. The original price for the cars when new started around $450,000.
The record-breaking price didn’t surprise Brian Rabold, vice president of Automotive Intelligence at Hagerty, who told Bloomberg that the V10 car — of which only 1,270 were produced over four years — has doubled in value in the last five years. What’s surprising is that Bring a Trailer, a once scrappy online auction site that began as a blog in 2007 and only started selling cars in 2014, has been able to court high-profile sales like this Porsche and garner enough interest to beat selling prices from longstanding in-person auctions like those from Mecum, which has been around since 1988.
Part of the reason for Bring a Trailer’s success has been its dedication to community building, as we explained in 2019. It’s not simply a point of sale, but a website that encourages users to discuss vehicles, even those they may not be bidding on. A $1.9 million Porsche, after all, is a car for the one percent.
That focus on community building extends to the arguably more important factor: the low fees. Bring a Trailer only requires sellers to pay $99 to list a vehicle, whether it’s a $2,000 car or a $2 million car, and buyers to pay a 5% fee on top of the final sale price, which they cap at $5,000. That’s far cheaper than most auction houses, but it’s par for the course for newer online sites. For example, the sites Cars & Bids and Rad for Sale both cap the buyers fee at $4,500.
That’s not to say just anyone can replicate Bring a Trailer’s success. Trust in the collector car space comes with time. But trust is exactly what older auction houses can leverage, and they’re trying to win back some ground with their own online auction sites.
A good lot to keep an eye on is another 2005 Porsche Carrera GT heading to auction via Gooding & Company (which has been around since 2003) at their in-person Amelia Island sale in March. It’s not quite as low mileage as this recent example (though it’s under 2,500), but it’s the only one in Polar Silver in the U.S., and they’re hoping to set the price record again. Gooding & Company’s estimate puts it between $1.8 and $2.4 million.
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