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Car auctions - What happens?

Hello all,

So with our B-LINE team you might ask what goes down exactly when buying cars from Japanese auctions.. So here's a post to answer that question..

We headed out on a cold Friday morning bound for the above - USS Osaka - auction house based on the outskirts of the city.

A typical Friday auction here will some seven~nine thousand cars passing through the screens for the chance for someone to bid and claim as their own.

Numbers can swell at peak times throughout the year, but needless to say there is plenty on offer each and every Friday this particular auction house runs.

First up - planning - with so many units spread out across the various buildings and locations around the main auction room, it's imperative to know exactly where you need to be. Each car has an auction number and the day before hand we'll list the numbers and times of these so we locate them on the map kindly set out and printed for each visitor attending on the day..

A number of newer units and higher end exotics and sports cars have their keys kept with the dedicated auction staff, and only a member signed up to the auction house will be allowed these keys - luckily we are - so entrance to some particular units is no issue should we need to test engines, clutches, and compression testing..

This Civic fell within our needs for the day as we needed the keys to have a deeper look at the specification and level of care, or lack there of, that it may have had.

Also dotted around the lot is these mobile batteries coupled with a handy to see flag pole so we can easily start up some units that are lacking some juice and need an extra hand..

Once you've completed checks on the hit-list you've assembled for the day, then it's back into the main auction room to take a seat at one of these heads up displays..

Insert your ID into the slot below the unit and then type in any upcoming cars of interest and then grab one of the handheld bidding buttons you can see above and get pressing to enter the action...

The actions itself is spread across the larger display units. You have to be on the ball though and clued into which units are running as each auction will last only around twenty to thirty seconds before the auction house kicks in and stops the bidding depending if the amount of bidding has slowed down significantly. Each unit will have a reserve - should no-one meet that price then we can speak to the auction house directly and see what negotiation price we may be able to agree on should the customer have the budget to go that bit higher...

Back outside after things have died down, and then it's on to scouting for other cars or finds that may be of interest for us to buy that may carry some value that we can store or sell on maybe at a later date.

Seeing something on a set of SSR Longchamps like the above can prove fruitful if the wheels themselves are in a good state, unfortunately these needed a good bit of work..

Living in Japan means coinciding with the various seasonal changes of weather that we have to adapt to. Many owners or dealers have to contend with Earthquakes, Typhoons and the like.

Hard to tell if it was crash damage this McLaren had received or if it was the result of the above..

For this 'Stang though it was a little bit easier to tell..

On the other hand such models like this 2013 Italian lady had been the subject of storm surge and water damage to the engine.

The tail end of the summer saw one of the largest Typhoon's hit the Kansai area and the Ferrari dealership in Kobe lost around 90% of their stock to the same type of effect - Gutting...

Something for everyone can be found at these auctions such as this Jaguar Mark-2..

Behind us more stock was arriving constantly to the USS staff and things would hastily happen for them from there..

Each unit is assigned it's auction number and then the staff will assess the car based upon exterior and interior conditions and provide a grade to each car.

It's a common error to assume all Grade-R cars within auction are crash damage cars, as it can also mean cars with many modifications that would mean it would not pass the Japanese 'Shaken' test to be road worthy, whereas something classed as RA would mean crash repair and these can be very light crashes with brilliant repairs done to them - Therefore it's important to have staff inspect the car on your behalf before you decide to either bid or discard it..


Grade S / 9: Basically new with factory miles.

Grade 5: She's beautiful.

Grade 4.5: Surface scratches, nothing major.

...And so it continues down.


A: The best of the best sir.

B: Some interior dirt, needs a good clean.

C: Maybe a dash crack, or seat tear may be the issue here.

...And so it continues down.

You wonder why the auction photo's are never that clear, well look top left to the 'security camera' type of equipment combined with lack of time the hard working staff have, and the fact they have to upload at least three pictures of potentially thousands of cars every week - then it's easier to understand why the quality isn't that good when uploading that amount of data..

Yes we did say there was something for everyone..

We did try our hand on a number of cars on the day, a few we're happy to say we succeeded in winning whilst trying to get some photo's to shoot this blog post at the same time.

Those will need find their way via flatbed truck to the port and we'll prepare them for shipping and they will be on their way to their new owners.

Something a little different here on Roughsmoke which we hope you enjoyed!

If you are a car dealer or looking to get started in selling cars from auction from Japan we are still accepting applications from dealers in various countries.

Feel free to contact the team on

Or you can find the team over on @roughsmokebline on both Facebook and Instagram.

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(@roughsmokestyleup) parts.

Thanks all.



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