“There’s no assistance. It’s just you,” Bradley Farrell said of the Maserati. “You’d better be on your game or you’ll kill us both — and I’m not talking about you and me; I’m talking about you and the car. Because this car 100 percent has a soul.”
I couldn’t agree more. The classic Maser’s soul is so visceral, so raw, so mechanical and so beautiful that for a while I forgot why I was in the driver’s seat at all. I’d commuted from Brooklyn early in the morning to meet Farrell at the headquarters of The Finest, his new automobile auction house that aims to upend traditional auctions in a decidedly modern way — with tablet computers and state of the art, app-based bidding, all done through online auction marketplace Proxibid. Surrounded by prewar metal of all kinds, from varied marques and in mostly unrestored condition, Farrell, tall, tattooed and intense, explained his vision in measured detail.
“You can’t forget what’s brought us to this point,” says Farrell, referring to the seemingly age-old template by which traditional auctions are run. Cars parade onto the stage, await bids and either sell or don’t. Either way, that’s pretty much the end of the proceedings. With Farrell’s visionary innovation, that timeframe is extended to a month, over which time buyers have multiple chances to make their purchase.
When bidders arrive they’re assigned a tablet. GPS locators in the tablets automatically populate with each car’s information and a carousel of breathtaking photographs. Bidding can start immediately, continues during the verbal auction period and even after each car leaves the stage. If the cars don’t meet reserve or don’t sell that day, there’s still plenty of time to bid. Which is how Farrell’s vision differs from tradition.
“It’s imperative to use what works really well, discard what doesn’t and then make up the rest,” said Farrell. Before Farrell I’d met with Ed Fallon, veteran auction pro and executive director of The Finest; he’s the auction veteran with an exhaustive knowledge of the business as it’s existed until now. “Ed is invaluable,” says Farrell. “Bringing him in as a serious executive was probably the smartest move I made.” Farrell has exhaustive knowledge, too; more importantly, he has a blazing, volcanic passion for all things automotive.