Common buyer questions

Our Automatic Bidding system makes things really easy. At any time during the auction, simply enter the maximum amount you would like to bid. If it’s higher than other bids and there is still time on the clock, you become the highest bidder. We'll then bid on your behalf – enough to keep you in the lead, but only in increments up to your maximum bid. If someone outbids you, we'll let you know by email so that you can decide if you want to increase your maximum bid.

If you win the auction, a 5% buyer’s fee will be added to the final sales (‘hammer’) price. This will be automatically collected from your default credit card.

Bidders must be registered and have a completed bidding profile which includes an identification check using a credit card. This protects everyone from dreamers and tyre-kickers. No charges can be made against your card without your authorisation.

The buyer's fee is 5% of the final sales (‘hammer’) price and is added to the total amount, plus 20% VAT in the UK and Europe.

 Buyer's fees are min £600/max £6,000 (min 720€/max 7,200€, & US$ min $500/max $5,000).

 There is no seller’s fee.

We never disclose a vehicle’s reserve, however we do tell you when a bid is close to the reserve or has exceeded it, so that you know when bidding that little bit extra might make the sale. As soon as the reserve is reached, the vendor is obliged to sell.

Look for the green “Contact Seller” button at the top of every auction. That will allow you to send a message directly to the seller. If you receive no answer, please contact us.

We always strongly recommend viewing any car, they can be complicated beasts. However, we know it is not always possible to fit a visit into your diary, so we aim to write the most comprehensive listings on the web and offer the opportunity to ask any questions of the seller during the auction. If visiting is impossible, why not ask the seller to see if he can use his smartphone on a live video (such as Facetime or WhatsApp) while you direct them where to go?

If you have a question about anything to do with the vehicle, please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button to ask away. Remember to check all the photos and text as we try to cover as many things as possible in the listing.

Login and click the ‘Watch Auction’ button (or Heart icon) on a Coming Soon listing. You will receive an email as soon as that auction goes Live.

Yes, please do. Our comments are designed to allow the community to have a discussion about the vehicle and assist both the potential buyers and the seller.

There isn’t really much advantage as we have eradicated last-second sniping - if anyone bids in the last 2 minutes of an auction, we extend the sale by two minutes from their bid time, to allow any remaining bidders to continue to participate. This repeats until all bidding is complete. This system makes it fairer to all buyers and sellers. In addition, our Automatic Bidding allows bidders to place their maximum bid hours or days before auction end, confident in knowing that our software will keep them in the lead up to their maximum bid.

The text is written by Bonhams|Cars Online, not by the seller. It is carefully written after discussions, photos and documents from the seller and other public sources. Whilst we try to cross-examine as much as possible, with the intention of being completely transparent with the description, the seller is ultimately responsible for how a lot is described. Please decide for yourself what the vehicle’s condition is.

We do not always inspect the vehicles (but make it very clear when we have), we rely on comprehensive photo galleries, and will ask the seller to provide more photos of specific areas if they are missing pre-auction. We are able to take a keen look at Concierge cars when they are delivered to us, but like all other auctions, we do not conduct a professional inspection.

Concierge is a premium service we offer (currently UK only) to sellers which provides our professional photography plus storage of the car at our HQ near Abingdon in Oxfordshire for viewings.

The general answer is no! By submitting a winning bid, you are making a legally binding commitment to purchase the vehicle (as with a physical auction). Remember, a winning bid results in a 5% (+ VAT in UK only) non-refundable deposit being immediately payable to the Company and you have authorised us to debit that amount from you as the successful buyer as soon as the auction ends. Trade sellers are legally required to give UK and EU consumer buyers a “cooling off period” under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (and equivalent EU legislation) with a right to cancel a purchase up to 14 days from collection of the vehicle. This only applies if: (i) you are a consumer based in the UK or EU, and (ii) are purchasing the vehicle from a trade seller (which will be indicated in the information for the vehicle). If these two conditions apply and you wish to exercise your right to cancel, you should refer to the trade seller; further information about cancellation rights is available at If you are permitted to cancel a purchase from a trade seller you will be responsible for ensuring the car is in the same condition as when you purchased it and also for the costs of returning the vehicle to the trade seller. The Seller and the Company may not reimburse the Purchase Price to you until the vehicle has been returned.

We take our reputation very seriously and use Trustpilot for independent reviews. We intend to provide a transparent commercial experience and aim ourselves at enthusiasts who would like to be treated in the same way as they treat others. If a seller, or buyer, drops below these standards repeatedly, they will be banned from using our services. But remember, we are not all complete experts, neither are we working with brand new vehicles.

As defined in UK and EU legislation, a person whose business or trade is buying, selling or repairing (in this case) vehicles, or representing another party in such business or trade, and who is selling vehicles via the Platform in the course of his trade or business.

If a bid is received within the last 2 minutes of the auction, the countdown is reset to 2 minutes. This allows buyers to consider making further bids without panic. All further bids will reset the 2-minute countdown. The auction ends when there have been no bids for 2 minutes.

If you register or add your email to our distribution list, we only send a simple email which lists new auctions. We never use it for other purposes or allow it to be used by third-parties.

If you are the winning bidder you will pay an auction Premium to Bonhams|Cars Online at 5% of the hammer price (+ VAT for buyers in the UK), after that you will pay 100% of the hammer price to the seller and arrange pickup of your new vehicle with the seller directly within 7-days.

Winning bidders can pay their auction Premium to Bonhams|Cars Online via Visa, MasterCard, AMEX or bank transfer. We then recommend bank transfer payments between buyers and sellers, but please contact the seller to confirm a mutually convenient method.

In placing a winning bid, you are entering a contract to buy the vehicle. The Seller provides very comprehensive photos and description of all parts of the car (good and bad), plus we offer the opportunity to all bidders to ask any questions and to inspect the vehicle prior to bidding. Used vehicles are rarely in perfect condition, so please ensure before bidding that you are happy with your understanding of the vehicle’s condition. If after all this, you find the vehicle has significant issues that were not mentioned and has been misrepresented, such as major panel damage or an inability to change gear, then we will look into it on a case-by-case basis provided that any such significant issues have been raised with us immediately upon your taking possession of the vehicle. Trade sellers are required by law to give UK and EU consumers a “cooling off period” following sale; further details are available at

Yes, absolutely, we have a contact list of transport providers for national and international shipping which we can provide to buyers and sellers. As a rough average estimate, budget on £2 per mile one-way, but this will depend on the service provided. Also, for storage local to Bonhams|Cars Online, we can recommend a number of classic car storage specialists.

You can view our terms & conditions here. If there are any further questions, please contact us at any time by email ([email protected]) or phone +44(0)1865 521 088.

We can’t, but we can suggest you speak to RKC Consultants who are Vehicle Registration Specialists with 25 years experience. Contact Robert Cook on 079000 13285 or [email protected].

Common seller questions

It costs nothing (£0/$0/€0) to list your car using our standard service. Alternatively, let Bonhams|Cars Online handle the listing, viewings and sale administration with our concierge service which is fixed at £600 + VAT (currently exclusive to the UK).

It is free to sell when you choose our standard service, whether your car sells or not.

Sellers in the UK using our Concierge Service will pay £600 + VAT. If your car does not sell, the fee is still applicable, plus any additional fees that have been agreed—such as transport fees, fuel, cleaning, paperwork and/or minor repairs.

No. We create the most comprehensive and transparent listings on the web and have worked hard to ensure the process is as smooth as possible. Furthermore, our sales ratio is at least as good as established auction houses.

Yes, but it can only be successful if buyers can determine a vehicle’s true condition and trust their judgement. Our results show that we are providing that kind of online experience.

Of course, no auction house can guarantee the highest prices. However, please take a look at the results in our Previous Auctions and you will see some impressive results including a number of UK auction-record prices. Our in-house technology experience and expertise ensure that all of our auction cars are marketed much further and better than those of any other auction house. Bonhams|Cars Online effectively advertises your vehicle to thousands upon thousands through all the classic car websites, our industry-leading mailing list and significant social media presence. Plus, our comprehensive and content-rich listings give everyone nationally and internationally the full picture, making them keen to bid wherever they live. And on top of all that, our extremely low fees all but guarantee we return more money to sellers.

We work closely alongside all our sellers to create professional listings on our site. Sellers can provide an unlimited number of photos, videos and documents that are available for review on each auction listing for prospective buyers. Our professional writers will work with you to find out more about your vehicle, so they are able to create a listing that ensures its story is told in the best possible way.

We do not usually visit, we use the power of modern IT to gain a deep appreciation of a car’s condition from extensive photography. We are happy to visit where other techniques are not helpful.

We have created a highly efficient process to generate an auction listing. All we ask is that the seller takes over 150 photos of the car, giving the buyers all they need to make an informed decision. We ask for some general shots, and then loads of detail shots showing the good and not-so-good bits of your vehicle. There is no limit to the photos, we can accommodate hundreds if you are still taking informative photos! A photo guide will be provided upon request.

Yes please. Individually photographing the vehicle’s documents is very important to buyers and makes a great difference to the auction price achieved. We are looking for any recent invoices, plus historical servicing/service books, MoT’s, and others that tell a story – it is not essential to include receipts for bulbs bought a decade ago!

A good Gallery makes a huge difference to our auctions. It informs more buyers, it spreads the geographical reach of your vehicle (many of our cars are bought/sold from around the globe just because of the photos), and it prevents buyers from wasting your time post-auction. The photos can all be taken in just 30 minutes, not too much of a commitment for a proper sale, is it?

Of course we can, a good range of photos are what will sell your car so we want to help. We can send you our own guide, or we can put you in touch with one of a number of photographers that we have around the country, or you can consider our Concierge service – see next question.

Choosing the premium Concierge service means that we do all the photography of the car and its documents using a professional photographer and host all viewings for potential buyers. The cost is only £600 (plus VAT) to be paid before the delivery of the vehicle. Delivery to us near Abingdon in South Oxfordshire is not included, but we have a number of trusted transport companies who can provide you a quotation. If you need the car cleaned and prepared, we know suppliers who can provide whatever you need.

We ask one of our team of professional writers to speak with you to learn everything about the vehicle and then create the independent description.

Yes. We publish the most comprehensive auction listings. Many vehicles are obviously not factory-fresh, and no-one would expect them to be perfect. If we ignored the faults, buyers would not have the confidence to bid; by describing the faults and photographing the blemishes, we know that we achieve higher auction prices. Every vehicle will have faults, and everything has a price; by being open, we ensure that both buyers and sellers know what they are dealing with.

Vehicles can be sold via the Platform without the buyer having taken their opportunity to view. If the buyer finds the vehicle significantly mis-described on collection, they will be seriously dissatisfied and may have rights under consumer legislation to cancel the purchase from you. We would not accept any further vehicles from a seller who repeatedly mis-describes or mis-represent the vehicles they are offering.

You should be prepared to have requests to view your car, it can make a big difference to some buyers. However, we have noticed that our extensive photo galleries result in fewer viewings, and that those viewings are serious rather than tyre-kickers.

All auctions have a ‘Contact Seller’ button which allows the buyer to contact the seller directly, asking questions and organising viewings. Please keep an eye on your email, and on the Comments section where buyers may also ask questions.

We can set up an auction in just a few days, and the auctions are usually set for around 7 days. There are no hard deadlines though, we run auctions every week and are ready when you are.

We have successfully incorporated a number of techniques to ensure time-wasters are removed from our auctions:

1. All bidders must register with credit card details.

2. Bidders can ask questions and view the car throughout the auction.

3. Winning bidders must pay a buyer’s fee to Bonhams|Cars Online after the auction.

4. Our comprehensive listings remove the likelihood of a buyer walking away because a vehicle is mis-described.

5. The accounts of disreputable buyers and sellers are closed.

The answer is yes; the consumer regulations require that if you are selling in the course of a business, trade or profession this is made clear to consumers and that you provide your trading and (if different) full corporate name, geographical and email address and phone number. You also have to explain to UK and EU consumer buyers how their cancellation rights apply, or else the 14 day “cooling off period” from the date of collection of the vehicle from trade sellers in which UK and EU consumers have the right to cancel and return their purchase, might be extended up to one year. For further information about your obligations as a trade seller see

We work with sellers to set reasonable Reserves and avoid vehicles with Reserves that are unrealistic. Once a Reserve is close to being met or has been met then we make it clear on the auction listing. We generally cannot apply a Reserve to any vehicle expected to reach under £15,000.00.

It’s common in online auctions for some buyers to use software to enter a bid in the very last seconds of the auction to outbid others without giving them a chance to respond. If a bid is placed during the last 2 minutes of an auction on Bonhams|Cars Online, we extend the auction by another 2 minutes. This gives everyone a chance to place their bids and gives sellers a chance to sell to the true high bidder.

All auctions run for 7-days unless advertised otherwise. Sometimes they can be extended a day or two, so they don’t fall on a Bank Holiday, Christmas or New Year. Auctions cannot be ended early, unless Bonhams|Cars Online is formally asked in writing by an authority such as the Police or a court order.

Once the auction closes the winning bidder will be charged a 5% (plus VAT in UK) premium. The hammer amount will be settled directly between you and the buyer via a method that you both agree on.

The general answer is no, a purchase at an online auction is final and binding, unless either you have materially misdescribed the vehicle, or you are a trade seller and the buyer is a UK or EU consumer. If this is the case, the UK/EU consumer buyer may have rights to cancel the purchase under the Consumer regulations in the UK and EU. If you have met the consumer information requirements under the Consumer Regulations, this cancellation right must generally be exercised within 14 days from when the consumer takes possession of the vehicle. If you have not met those requirements, the cancellation period might be extended up to a year. Further information is available at

If at auction end the reserve has not been met, then the auction will end with the vehicle unsold. We will try to make contact with the highest bidders to see if we can facilitate a deal and will even continue to market the vehicle with a 'buy it now' price for a limited period. If the vehicle remains unsold and is stored with us, then we will request that it is collected.

You can view our terms & conditions here.

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