Classic cars are often sold as private auctions, while seized and government-owned cars are sold at government-run auctions. The value of vehicles at auctions can vary significantly, but problems with the cars being sold can be difficult to detect.
Car auctions are a popular way for people to sell valuable classic cars, and especially rare cars might sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, people looking to sell less popular classic cars might use auctions as well to reach a larger audience. If two or more buyers are interested in any car, it can sometimes sell above market value.
Governments sometimes seize cars used during crimes, and abandoned vehicles are often seized as well; these cars are typically sold at auctions. In addition, cars used by law enforcement agents and other government employees are generally auctioned when they're replaced. While people are usually able to get good deals on these cars, they typically don't come with guarantees, so they may require expensive repairs.
States have different rules about how cars can be sold at auctions, but many require sellers to disclose certain problems with the cars. However, buyers typically have fewer protections when purchasing a car at an auction compared to purchasing a car at a dealership or even through an individual, so experts recommend exercising caution before placing bids.