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A review of Cars & Bids

I review automotive auction site Cars & Bids as I put up my BMW 335i for sale. See how I recommend to maximize your own auction's value.

With the impending arrival of my G80 M3, it’s time for the 335i to find a new home. With its M Power Kit and various M add-ons, the car is special enough to place on Cars & Bids. If you’re thinking of putting your car up for bid, here are some tips, along with a review of the site.

Compare Cars & Bids to Bring a Trailer

All auction sites make money by selling cars. The more they sell, the better it looks. To ensure they sell yours, they will ask you to set a reserve, or the lowest price you’re willing to accept for your car. When I sold my E92 M3, the reserve that Bring a Trailer wanted to set was laughably low considering the condition the car was in. They tried to bargain with me regarding the price, but I still felt it was too low. It sold on the forums in a week, and that was that.

Now, with my 335, I decided to try Cars & Bids. They set a reserve with me that seemed much more reasonable. The uploading process was easy, they were responsive and the car went up without a hitch.

You can always try both sites and ask what reserve they will set.

What’s a reasonable reserve?

Everyone thinks their car is worth more than it is, and auction sites do well when they actually sell the car, so they will push you into a lower reserve. Only you can determine if it’s acceptable to put it up there.

Explore all your options. Forums, social media, word of mouth – try other paths first before heading to auction.

But, once you choose an auction, you must list it there exclusively. That makes sense, as you’ll only be undercutting yourself. If someone asks, just direct them to bid.

BMW 335i front end
Show the flaws in your pictures as well, like the rub on my front lip here.

Does Doug DeMuro really review every car on Cars & Bids?

I don’t know. The short blurb he provides is nice, but never anything that a potential buyer probably doesn’t know. Each week he’ll pick favorites to display and call attention to, an added bonus. Bring a Trailer doesn’t really have a voice behind the site, so Doug’s presence is nice to have.

Do I need a pro like you to take pictures?

I believe you do, and the reason is simple. Cars & Bids, or Bring a Trailer, show thousands of cars. A really nice poster image will help it stand out from the crowd. Keep in mind that you have no idea what will be up for sale at the same time your car is up, so while it might be a super amazing and rare car, perhaps there are others even more amazing and rare. Fight for all the attention you can.

A pro should also be methodical when shooting. Look through my gallery on the site and you’ll see every angle covered, including flaws. While you can go around with a phone and do this, the pictures are darker and you might miss something.  Think of it another way. If the photos are messy, people assume you are messy and thus the car not taken care of properly.

You’ll make the money back that you spent on the shoot, plus some.

You can also tell that people will comment on the images – this is good. You want interaction with potential buyers.

BMW E34 M5
A poster shot is the image that goes on the top of the auction page. It’s what will grab everyone’s attention, so make sure it pops.

You’re just saying that because you want to shoot my car

While it would be fun to attempt to shoot every car that goes up for auction, that’s not possible. Work with a local guy, or use the service that Cars & Bids provides for images.

People will often ask if I retouch other photographers’ images. This is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, so reach out of you’d like me to work on a poster image for you.

BMW 335i
Gallery shots don’t need to be retouched heavily, if at all.

Do I need to detail it professionally?

Sometimes. If you’re selling the car in person, getting rid of swirl marks and obvious flaws can make a good impression. On the internet, the camera won’t show those swirls (unless it’s really bad). The 335 is clean, but since it was used when I purchased it, there are a few swirl marks and light scratches.

I can spend the day polishing it, or give it to Phil at Detailer’s Domain, but because it’s a regular 3 Series, I doubt I’d make the money back. On a more rare car, even an M3, take it to Phil and get it sorted right.

Definitely have the car clean for your photos, and empty out anything personal. It should be like staging a house – the buyer has to see themselves in that car, living that lifestyle.

Should I part my car out?

If you’ve modified your car, you may or may not make back your investment. When I sold my E92 M3, I left only the Borla exhaust on there (I had sold the original). Other items, like floor mats, car covers, etc, were sold separately.

I can’t take the M tune off the 335, so I decided to leave the entire kit on, from the M Performance trim to the IND red start button, to help it stand out more.

If it came with the car, I try to keep it there. Otherwise, head to the forums and sell your extra stuff.

BMW key fob
Items like manuals and key fobs should also be showcased.

What kind of records do I need?

A good habit to get into is keeping a binder with clear plastic sleeves in it. Each time the car gets serviced, put the paperwork in the binder. Bidders love complete paperwork showing the car was cared for. If you don’t have it, a Car Fax should let them know what was done.

Don’t forget to respond to questions during the bidding process.

What happens if Cars & Bids does not take my car?

You must apply for any auction site to accept your car. If they don’t want it, but you feel like trading it into a dealer isn’t an option, then try forums for your make and model, or enthusiast clubs (like BMW CCA), that can list your car for sale in their classified ads.

Did Cars & Bids work for you?

It did! The auction met my reserve price, and the buyer was put in touch with me right away. The buyer is responsible for shipping the car to their location, unless you work out a separate deal offline. The entire process was easy, and from shooting the car to loading it up on the truck, took less than 3 weeks to complete.

Would you recommend an auction site?

Overall, yes, and I think Cars & Bids has a much better user interface to work with than Bring a Trailer, but do try to both to see who offers the better reserve.

Remember, you will get back what you put into it, so gather your records, take some good shots, and do some research to understand what the current market is for your car.

Happy bidding!

Email me at with any questions.

Follow along on Instagram @machineswithsouls