Auction changes over the past 20 years

Ever wanted to go to a Japanese Car Auction

Walking the Auctions

There was a time not so long ago when access to the auctions either via the internet or via public access was not available and also strictly prohibited. The internet was still in its infancy and auctions were only viewed by going there directly.

As an example we would head off to JAA Tokyo at about 5am in the morning. When I say head off we were only 20 minutes away in Kasai by car so there was no traffic jam etc.

Go to the local store on the way and grab your breakfast then stroll on in to the auction hall and pick up your map and telephone book size car catalog for the days cars. I was terrible at model codes much to my agents horror so the catalog meant little to me sadly.

Now these auctions were and still are huge. And JAA for example had sections all over the place. So if you knew where you needed to be you get in a bus and head off to your section. Remember you had to get there check your cars and then be back to the auction hall for your bidding time. Luckily every auction split the sections well so you had time to navigate between your section.

As stated I could not for the life of me remember model codes so once we arrived we would simply walk between the rows of cars until I found a potential target. 2 to 5 minutes looking and then its a yes or no on your catalog as you went along. As you are navigating the isles of cars you see other agents and buyers looking at the same cars so you know its not a bad thing to bid on.

USS Tokyo was even more spread out and you could be there until late in the evening checking cars and bidding. It was great as they fed you well and the food selection is great. Not only did you eat well you could also get fit. We walked kilometer after kilometer honestly and often at a crackling pace. You needed and energetic auction agent who knew the sections and was willing to get of his ass.

Believe me when I say that this was hard work. It really was hard and no matter what we loved it.

Moving on 20 years later. Hold on! Yes 20 years later! All the same old auctions are still there bar a couple. USS is now a mega giant that swallows lesser auctions like HAA Kobe and others as its grows beyond imagination. We can look at cars online 2 or 3 days prior to auction. Our clients are updated because of this and going to auction is purely desire and total customer service. Not only that but the international auction agents love to talk shit with each other and boast of their latest conquests (new customers)

You can ride a bike around USS Tokyo and catch elevators at Nagoya and Yokohama etc. Sit down for a nice curry lunch and tell your client in good time about his or her new car. Oh and you can be home by lunch time the same day if curry is not for you.

By the way I am a terrible writer

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Written by Main Driver

Currently sitting on my dining table about to celebrate my 18th wedding anniversary with my wonderful wife. Living in Japan exporting cars for some 15 years and looking for a new challenge. I have been an auction agent for nearly 20 years and have exported over 4,000 cars globally.


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  1. I wonder who your agent was? Are they still about and doing the auction thing? I heard stories about Australians and Kiwis getting hammered on booze at auction. It must have been a crazy time I think.

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