Skip to Main Content
Piston Stories

Bidding on a Better Future: Bring a Trailer’s Charity Auction for the Piston Foundation

There was a hum of excitement among car enthusiasts and members of Bring a Trailer (BaT) as the digital auction platform celebrated its 100,000th listing by selling its own beloved ‘73 Datsun 240Z in a charity auction benefiting The Piston Foundation. 100% of the auction proceeds went toward supporting the Foundation’s “Sponsor a Piston Scholar” initiative. The bidding period lasted for a little over a week, from February 27th to March 7th, and now, the results are finally in. Enthusiasm is high on both the Piston and BaT sides, showing that when two groups come together, they can accomplish a lot to support the future of their community.

By Christopher Perkowski

March 16, 2023

Partnering with Piston

Bring a Trailer’s owner, Randy Nonnenberg, was excited about his partnership with the Piston Foundation, seeing it as an opportunity to give back to the car community. “The goal of our celebratory 100,000th auction was to highlight how much we have accomplished as a team, and to also use that special moment to give back to the car community,” he said. “Selling our own 240Z felt like the right item, given its close affiliation with BaT and our enthusiast roots.”

Randy’s desire to give back to the car community is ultimately what led him to partner with the Piston Foundation and create the charity auction. “We didn’t want to cheer for a big sale result for our own profit…We wanted…a big sale result that was for the betterment of the car community. Donating the entire sale price and the bidder fee felt best, and that let the entire car community get behind the listing and celebrate the result.”

The “Sponsor a Piston Scholar” initiative is the kind of cause Randy believes will benefit the car community as a whole. The industry is in great need of new technicians able to take the place of older retirees, a fact Randy knows all too well. “Our BaT Staff and the BaT Community love the cars we sell and we all drive them and own them. We know the value of technical experts, those that help us keep these vehicles on the road. Contributing to The Piston Foundation’s support and expansion of training for technicians will help us to enjoy our current cars for years to come, and also enjoy any that we buy on BaT in the future!”

Community Thoughts on Piston

The greatest surge of support came from the countless visitors and users of the Bring a Trailer website. The excitement they expressed for the thrill of the auction coincided with their growing belief in the Piston Foundation and its mission of promoting automotive trade education for young scholars. “The perfect charity to be supported by this fantastic auction!” wrote one user. “Randy and team have done so much more than create an online auction source, they have built an incredible community.”

“Great car, great cause. The best way to celebrate is by giving back.”

Some users spread the word of how everyone could become more involved. They wrote, “we can all support The Piston Foundation even if we aren’t bidding on this auction.” Additional donations rose throughout the one-week auction period and beyond with a rallying wave of support. 57 individuals made contributions, totaling $6,513; more than enough to sponsor a Piston Scholar.

Randy was proud of his community’s willingness to give, having this to say: “We have received lots of positive feedback from our very vocal BaT Community of users, and they have all been excited to hear of our support for The Piston Foundation. We are glad that even those who didn’t buy the car had the opportunity to donate in whatever amount worked for their budget.”

Going Once, Going Twice, Sold! For $124,240

On the afternoon of March 7th, the auction reached its conclusion with a final bid of $124,240. The winner was user “@Robbscars”, who is now the proud owner of the “Gimlet Z”. In the page’s comment section, he shared a story of his from 50 years ago when his car broke down on his way to Thanksgiving dinner. A kid from the local car parts store agreed to help and together, with the limited tools at their disposal, they got the car running again. As it turned out, the kid was going to trade school, a fact which always stuck with this auction’s winner.

In the hours following the auction’s end, he had this to say about his experience: “I think this was a great display of the good and smart people that contribute to these auctions. I’m proud to have donated this money to help what I think is a great cause – trade schools of all types are great.”

Check out the 100,000th Bring a Trailer auction »

A Community Effort of $135,753

The final bidding price of Bring a Trailer’s 100,000th auction is certainly impressive. Throw in the additional buyer’s fee donation of $5,000 and $6,513 from the BaT community, and that number rises even higher to $135,753. This is a great accomplishment for BaT, its members, and the Piston Foundation. It means the total amount of all funds raised throughout the event were enough to create 27 Piston Scholarships (almost triple the amount reached in 2022) and placed the Foundation firmly past the halfway point on its goal to achieving 50 scholarships in 2023.

The numbers don’t lie. This special auction event and its company partnership illustrates the importance of community support when it comes to programs like “Sponsor a Piston Scholar.” When people unite towards a goal they believe in, they can achieve incredible feats in a surprisingly short amount of time. We’re not even a quarter of the way through the year and yet goals such as “50 in ‘23” are quickly on their way to fruition.

Randy Nonnenberg hopes that, “more businesses in the collector car community will support educational and technical causes for the next generation.” Company partnerships serve a large part in this kind of success, as they bring their loyal base along with them, spreading the word to a whole new audience in the process.

Bring a Trailer’s partnership has proven this concept quite spectacularly. It stands to reason this kind of business relationship will be a prominent model the Piston Foundation will choose to follow as it continues to engage with the community in creating a self-sustaining car future.

Taking a Cue from Bring A Trailer

This auction event proved exciting and successful for the Piston Foundation, yet there is still plenty of work to do. Participants of BaT have manifested their efforts in the form of 27 shiny, new scholarships. Now, it’s time for you and others to bring Piston the rest of the way home. Whether it be big or small, a donation always makes a difference. More importantly, it shows your love for cars, the community, and the people who keep it running smoothly.

To stand with BaT’s members in support of the cause, please visit and make your contribution to the future of car culture.

If your business would like to support Piston as Bring a Trailer did, visit our Sponsorship and Underwriting page

Support skilled trade education for future auto restoration technicians.


Sign up for our monthly email with stories, updates, and volunteer opportunities.