FAIRFIELD, Ca - Internet auctions helped auto-salvage company Copart Inc. to its most profitable year in 2004. The company recently expanded to selling used cars, damaged or not, to dealers and other bulk buyers, according to a story on the Fairfield Daily Republic. For more than a year, Fairfield-based Copart watched sales and profits jump after converting from a live auction format solely to Internet sales. Using that method to sell junked cars kept operating costs down and opened the sales to buyers worldwide, instead of just those who showed up in person at one of Copart's 107 auto lots across North America. Copart now sells salvage vehicles to repair shop owners as far away as Europe and the Middle East. In its most recent financial report, Copart said 20 percent of the cars sold during the quarter were shipped to buyers outside the U.S., according to the report. The company, which for the first time topped $400 million in sales last year, said its recent success was due to its proprietary online auction technology, Virtual Bidding Second Generation, or VB2. Copart is working with 44 wholesale vehicle auctions to provide its technology for their use. And the company is integrating VB2 with other vehicle auction software to widen its base of users and potential buyers, the Daily Republic report said. Though Copart still allows people to inspect vehicles parked at its lots prior to making a bid, it might be impractical for someone, say in Florida, to go to a Copart lot in Montana to look over a batch of cars. Pre-visiting a far-away car lot, in any case, would detract from the convenience intended with the implementation of VB2. Trusting the Internet, with its digital pictures and brief disclosure statements, might be easier with a grading system being developed by the National Auto Auction Association, the report said.