INTERVIEW

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GOING DIGITAL

Auctomobile.com is a new auction platform, where you can buy and sell classic or special cars online. It’s a new trend - smart, simple,secure and inexpensive.


We spend a pleasant time chatting with the brain of the project, Jari Brzon, in a cool office surrounded by adorable specialcars. It was not only about numbers and values, but also about passion and burned fuel.


Who is behind the Auctomobile.com project?

Although there is already a group of European car collectors and enthusiasts behind this project, it all started a couple of years ago from an idea of the founder, car collector and specialcar expert, Jari Brzon.



Founder of Auctomobile.com - JariBrzon

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What have you led to start this project and how did it happen?

Classic cars are my hobby since I was 4 years old,when my father first took me to a classic car event and I got lost for it, so it is a really long time passion. My professional life was connected more to numbers and I was a professional stock and derivative market trader for almost 20 years. But as soon as I have earned first serious money in 2006, I started to fuel my passion and started to collect interesting, special and rare cars. I have looked for them everywhere, small ads, Ebay, later Bring a Trailer, travelled around the main auction venues throughout Europe and so on. My first collection was built around rare British cars, for example I owned two Morgan +4+, the rare fibreglass coupe, of which only 26 were built. Then I started to collect special Porsche cars, but that was only the beginning. I have found out that I could connect my career around numbers with my passion in cars and launched an investment fund for classic and collectable cars and another one helped to built. As I needed to buy and sell more and more special cars, I have still been looking for an effective, quick and not expensive way of buying and selling the cars for a current fair market value. The traditional auction houses are too expensive, the specialized dealers not cheap and too slow, the online classified ads not effective, Ebay was not specialized for this car segment, the US online platform Bring a Trailer was not very opened to European cars. But BaT did a great job in establishing this modern and specialized online model in the US. The same is Collecting Cars now doing in the UK for the RHD cars. But nobody has offered this for the cars in the continental Europe. So the last solution was the idea two years ago, that I have to build such a platform by my own.


Why do you see a potential in the project?

The special and classic car market has to digitalize and move online, even more now with the corona crisis. This is the future for this market and you can see this already happening in the USA.The traditional ways are too expensive, too inefficient, too slow. The digitalization of the market brings the costs radically down, the secured payments protect the buyer and the seller much better than the standard common old ways still used in the market.


What are the initial reactions / market acceptances?

The reactions are highly positive and the European market is hungry for these possibilities. Of course, we are a new platform and so not very well known, so we have to gain more trust of the buyers and sellers. But it is really moving quickly forward.

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From left: Founder of Auctomobile.com - Jari Brzon, B2B Head Katerina Trnkova, Journalist and classic car expert Frantisek Vahala

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If I have a car in the garage and I want to sell it, how does the auction work?

You have just to register on our website www.auctomobile.com, upload the car to the platform, proof, that you own the car or you are authorized to sell the car and have the possession of the car in your place. You do not have to bring the car to an auction venue and you can save the transportation costs. We also help to prepare the article about the car, present the car on our social media and partner websites like Classic Driver, Classic Trader and others. If we agree on the conditions of the sale, the car goes online and in a couple of weeks, you can get a current fair market price for your car.


How much will it cost me?

The registration and submitting of the car is for free. The listing fee to the auction is 99 EUR, but if you submit the car as No Reserve, it is not only for free, you even get a revenue share of 1 % of the final price. The buyer pays 4 to 5 % of the final price as a buyer’s premium depending on the type of bid, with a maximum of 5.000 EUR for cars worth over 100.000 EUR.


If I would like to buy a car, wouldn‘t I miss real connection, inspection of car? How can I inspect it?Only through the videos, photos or?

It all startswith a coming soon phase, so that you can ask for an appointment to visit the car in person. But 95 percent of the sales are performed without a personal inspection. The potential buyers can ask for more documents, pictures or videos. And after they win the auction, they mostly use the Trusted Checkout option for a secured payment, an escrow account in the name of the buyer at the French bank Credit Mutuel. After the bank confirms the payment, the transport is carried to the buyer and when he confirms the receiving of the car, the bank sends the payment to the seller. It is maybe not personal, but effective, cheap, quick and secured. And that is the future for this market.



Porsche 356 Pre-A Speedster (1955)


Who is your customer?

It is the younger generation at the beginning, which is used to the online world, most of the bidders are in the 30’s, maximum 40’s. The same is for the sellers, but we also cooperate with other car collectors or dealers who want to try a more effective way for the sale of their cars.


What classics are you going to offer in the near future?

We will focus more on cars that do not have many options. The main focus will be on interesting cars worth between 5.000 and 100.000 EUR. We only want that the cars are special, have a story to tell, interesting history, are fun to drive or were simply loved by their owners.


How do you want to evolve, what are your plans?

We want to bring these special cars based in the continental Europe to lovely new homes around the world effectively for all interesting parties. We started this project to fill out our own needs of collectors and enthusiasts, we are not car dealers, we do not live from selling cars, but we would be happy, if this project helps another car collectors and enthusiasts with their needs. And if this works, our plans get fulfilled.


Introduce your team a bit – especially in connection with classic cars...

I have introduced myself in the story about how this project evolved, but I would like to mention also the people around the project. This would not be possible without them. I can’t name all of them, I am just the „brain“ behind this project. I have brought with me today also our „face“ of this project, the B2B head Katerina Trnkova.Who has also a long time experience in classic car scene, being for years a classic car seller at Scuderia Prague, the official Czech Ferrari and Maserati dealershipwith another 8 years of experience at one of the biggest classic car collectors in the Czech Rep.

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B2B Head Katerina Trnkova


Why are you based in Estonia?

Our official residence is in Tallinn, Estonia, because they are very much oriented on digital business, our accountants and lawyers are based over there. Our operating headquarters is here in Prague, Czech Republic, where we have the best programming team, the experienced expert team evaluating the cars and also the marketing team, the best journalists for our Blog section and our great photographer. Czech Republic has also a long tradition with classic cars. I am proud that we could win the last year Concours d’Elegance in Chantilly and runner-ups at Pebble Beach with a car restored in the Czech Rep. But we are now also preparing opening other operation offices with our foreign partners, Cologne in Germany should be the first one coming, we are also discussing northern Italy and London, United Kingdom. A special thanks goes to all the car collectors and enthusiasts that are our partners now in the beginning of our project, it would really not be possible without them.


But back to your personas the brain of the whole project, how much time are you spending watching auctions and development of the values of classic cars?

My professional career was connected with 16 hours a day working with numbers. As I turned my focus to the classic car market, so to my passion, I spend the same amount of time analyzing the market, looking for opportunities, analyzing every auction result, selling rates, values, estimates and so on. I have just been all time looking how to connect my professional added value with my passion. But I really do not want to ruin this passion for business. I am really enjoying the time working on this project.And as soon as the weekends arrive, I get out and drive to car events, classic car rallyes, make a trip to the Alps for example with my MG racer. I love these events and all the nice people around classic cars. A big difference to the world of stock market trading, that I left to work on this project.

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MG Lester Special (1939/55)

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Do you like static cars in garages or regularly driven? Why?

Of course, I like the cars that are driven, the cars were built to drive, they need to be driven! But I can understand the need for the real value investors see in special cars. And they do not want to take the risks of driving the highly valued cars. It is a big and significant part of the market, and at least it also helps to preserve the historical value into the future and it makes the market more liquid. But for myself, I do not buy cars that „can’t“ be driven!

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Text: Automotive journalist and Auctomobile.com expert Frantisek Vahala
Pictures: Auctomobile.com photographer Ondrej Kroutil