More than 200,000 people receive a daily email message that lists auctions closing that day. All told, more than 15,000 people have won an auction on BAT at least once.

“I find it so entertaining,” says Meyer, 78. “The guys that are running it are honorable. They’re really doing a good job of presenting a car correctly and honestly and without outrageous reserves. It’s a whole new paradigm.”

Curated for Cool
In its simplest description, BAT lists classic and collectible cars for sale online that users bid on over the course of seven-day sales. (Some premium listings last as many as 21 days.) Everyone can follow the sale as time runs out on the very visible clock ticking down at the top of each page. Those who want to place a bid must register with the site, including providing a credit card number. Whoever has the highest bid when the auction ends wins the car, pays the (unusually low) 5% buyer’s fee, and is connected with the seller to arrange for pickup. If more than one person places a bid within the last two minutes of a sale, a special function extends the auction until they reach a détente.

BAT is not the first company to sell used cars online—just look at the millions of cars listed on EBay, Craigstlist, and Hemmings. (A Hemmings spokesman did not respond to requests for comment for this story.) But using BAT feels different from other auction sites that sell cars online. It’s sorted much more thoughtfully, allowing for easy queries by make and model, and you can filter results based on the status of the auction. Selecting a car and then scrolling down brings up dozens of photos of the car, some so detailed they’ll show tiny corners of the engine or minuscule components in the wheels or windshield wipers.

It’s a steady drip, with auction updates and new offerings listed daily. And the community feels like a special group of like-minded fellows. Users scroll through the auction results to get a sense of the market like they check the Dow Jones every morning. Parents and children bond over sharing, critiquing, dissecting, and dreaming over the day’s new listings.

The comments section is a big draw, providing humorous and insightful addenda while everyone watches the sale unfold—and especially for the thousands of people who follow along but have yet to place their first bid. It’s also moderated; meanies and know-it-alls are not allowed.

“We want BAT to be a welcoming environment,” Nonnenberg says. “It’s great to have knowledge, but if you’re really arrogant about that or you’re a jerk about it, that can create sort of a firefight online that we’ll go in and address. We try to limit the negative parts of an open microphone on the internet.”

Quality Control
Most important, BAT curates its wares. Whereas EBay and Craigslist present thousands of cars from all backgrounds and conditions, making it tedious to sort the real jewels from what should be used as scrap metal, BAT is selective about what it offers. It’s like the difference between a high-end vintage store that sells original David Bowie tour T-shirts and the castoffs from the local Goodwill. When you go to the latter, you have to dig through a lot more grit to find a treasure.

“Bring a Trailer tries to present cars that are interesting and to their taste—and it happens to be my taste, too,” Meyer says. “With EBay, it’s just so vast, and there’s no scrutiny whatsoever.”

Vetting is an art as much as it is a science, Nonnenberg says. His team of 22 full-time staff evaluates a vehicle based on uniqueness, rarity, beauty, design, condition, and the reserve price requested by the seller. And speaking of the sellers—they’ve got to qualify, too, he says. (The platform does not personally inspect the mechanics and condition of the cars it offers for sale.)