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Ad for rare sports car days late and dollars short

A rare $1 million sports car advertised in the Wall Street Journal is more than hard to get--it's already gone.

    A rare $1 million sports car advertised in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday was more than hard to get--it was already gone.

    The ad, which ran in the Journal's Marketplace section in its Western edition, promoted an auction for the exotic McLaren F1 sports car on luxury goods site BigWigAuctions.com. Although the ad clearly stated that bids needed to be made by Jan. 15, traffic to the site still jumped, and several readers contacted the Olympia, Wash.-based company about the auction, said BigWigAuctions.com spokesman Scott Richardson.

    The Journal ran the ad without contacting the company and apparently without reading the ad, Richardson said. "If they had contacted us, we would have told them don't run that ad," he said.

    The ad, which Richardson said first ran in the Journal earlier this month, enticed potential bidders to "own the kind of automobile the left lane was invented for...the rarest car ever offered on the Internet, valued at over $1 million."

    The Journal re-ran the ad Tuesday to fill extra space in its edition that goes out to California, Nevada and the Pacific Northwest, a Wall Street Journal advertising services representative said. The paper's designers "needed an ad just that size," the representative said. "Most likely, they took the (BigWigAuctions.com) ad and didn't read the finer print down below."

    The Journal did not charge BigWigAuctions.com for the second printing of the ad, the representative said.

    The McLaren auction, which closed Jan. 15, received one bid for about $810,000, Richardson said. The car, however, did not sell because the bid did not meet the seller's reserve price, he said.

    Auction sellers often set a reserve price for their items, refusing to sell the item unless bidding on it meets or exceeds the reserve. BigWigAuctions.com does not disclose reserve prices.

    According to McLaren's Web site, the British car company manufactured 72 F1's in 1998, the last year in which they were in production. The cost of a new McLaren was approximately $1 million.

    BigWigAuctions.com launched its site in July, one of several new auction sites that debuted last year. The site currently has about 250 items listed for sale, including cigars, automobiles and Rolex watches.