Tuesday, September 21, 2010

KCMO Unclaimed Vehicles Police Impound Auction was fun, in a different sort of way

Today I took a field trip to the Kansas City, Mo., Police Impound Yard off I-435 and Front Street for the September Unclaimed Vehicles Auction. I was kind of hoping to buy some winter beater really cheap and maybe give my old Impala the Christmas season off.

This was sort of an unusual experience. They don’t run the vehicles through a lane like at a normal auction. Instead, they are all just left in their parking spots, and the auctioneer and his assistant are pulled along in a trailer from car to car. That system makes sense, though--most of these cars don't run.  To sell cars at this auction, you not only need auctioneering experience, but you also shouldn’t be prone to motion sickness.

There were 385 cars and trucks on the docket for this sale, the first sixteen of which were considered “premium vehicles.” Now don’t let the term “premium” fool you. They were crap boxes too, but they happened to run.

I had my eye on a 2002 Impala. It had high mileage, but it was about the cleanest thing on the lot. I figured it would be worth it to take a chance at about a grand. They ran it up to $2,450, and that was that. The rest of these cars would have to go to the buy here/pay here dealers, the scrap metal guys, or perhaps one of the individuals in attendance that already had firsthand experience in the police impound process.

I even saw one buyer get arrested. There was a police car trolling through the lot, and the dog in the backseat went bananas when they passed this guy. Next thing you know, he was spread out on the front fender of an old Crown Vic that didn’t happen to be for sale.

I saw some interesting things there, though. Nothing I wanted to own, just interesting. There was a Firebird with the glove box open that contained only a large, sharp knife and a bullet. And speaking of bullets, there were several vehicles that had been shot up pretty good. There were a few cars that looked like people had been living in them based on all the stuff they contained. And on the other end of the spectrum, there were vehicles that looked like people might have died in them judging by the accident damage.

Popular accessories for impounded cars included large chrome wheels, fake convertible tops, Auto Zone seat covers, Loony Tunes steering wheel covers, simulated Buick-style portholes, and Little Trees cherry-scented air fresheners. And if you were lucky enough to buy a vehicle, you were required to take all of that stuff with you.

There was a really original ’64 International Scout that someone might have wanted had the windows not been all knocked out. An ’80 Chevy Silverado with the driveshaft sitting on the ground had possibilities. There were even motorcycles, a fishing boat, and a go-kart for the more adventurous.

The auctioneer would notice that some of the descriptions said the vehicle was impounded during an arrest. That usually prompted him to comment, “Picked up during an arrest, so it had to be driving somewhere.” Of course, that was the official seal of approval that that car had to run and drive. Those were the sweet ones.

I think it would be hard to get a deal at a sale like this one, and even if you did, you might change your mind after you got it home. But the possibility is there, so fortune-hunters flocked to the impound yard like the 49-ers in search of gold. If nothing else, attending this sale is a fun adventure on an otherwise mundane Tuesday morning.

Next stop: craigslist.


  1. I would buy some of those cars to take off some sweet jumps!

  2. Yeah, except you wouldn't be able to get to the jumps with most of them!

  3. Thanks for the information about police auctions very helpful. http://www.policeauctions.com/

  4. Nice writeup. I've been thinking about going there to see if they have any decent motorcycles. I know with bikes it's big tyme hit or miss, but hey...