Bring A Trailer Is The New King Of Car Auctions

What started as a newsletter of fixer-upper auto listings is now outselling Mecum and Barrett-Jackson

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This Porsche 968 CS was one of Bring a Trailer’s 2021 sales
This Porsche 968 CS was one of Bring a Trailer’s 2021 sales
Photo: Mike Boldt via Bring a Trailer

When you hear “car auction,” you probably think of the big names. The Barrett-Jacksons or Mecums (Mecii?) of the world are likely the first to pop into your head, long before any three-word website best known for making the cars you like entirely unaffordable. But while we all stared wistfully at that auction list, like Dickensian orphans through shop windows, it seems some people out there actually could afford those reserve prices: Bring a Trailer outsold Barrett-Jackson and Mecum last year. In fact, it outsold them combined.

Bloomberg pulled the numbers together from various auction houses, comparing the overall dollar value of every car they sold in 2021. They found that Bring a Trailer more than doubled their sales, from a mere $398 million in 2020 to nearly $829 million in 2021. It seems high prices didn’t stop buyers from making their online pandemic purchases. Rich people: They’re just like us.

Did you spend nearly $2 million on this Carrera GT on Bring a Trailer?
Did you spend nearly $2 million on this Carrera GT on Bring a Trailer?
Photo: Bring a Trailer
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The pandemic has affected traditional auction houses, but Bring a Trailer hasn’t had to undergo the same changes to keep running. It was born online, free from such inconveniences as “seeing a car in person before you spend nearly two million United States dollars on it.” For some, that may be a turn-off, but Covid turned it into a selling point: Why risk interacting with sellers when you could find mint-condition cars online?

With such a staggering sales lead over traditional competitors, Bring a Trailer seems to be the new big-name automotive auction house. With the backing of substantial car enthusiast money in the form of Hearst Autos, it’s unlikely to give up that title any time soon.