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Homepage. This page: Selling - advice on how to sell a classic car

Tips on selling a classic car.

CONTENTS
  1. Reasons for selling your Classic Car.  
  2. Valuing classic cars.  
  3. Where to advertise your car for sale.  
  4. When is the best time to sell?  
  5. Preparing your car.  
  6. Doing the deal.  
1. Reasons for selling.

Ok so you've taken the perhaps painful decision to sell your classic car. Sometimes, if the car has been a source of irritation of financial ruin, the decision to sell a classic car is a quick and easy one to make.

However if you're anything like me, putting up your classic car for sale is a painful and heart wrenching decision, regardless of whether you bought it years earlier and did nothing with it, or whether you've sweated cobs over a lengthy restoration that only recently began to bear fruit.

For many, just owning interesting cars is reason enough to hang on to an old friend, even if they aren't runners - several of my hoard haven't internally combusted on the Queen's highways for many a year, but it doesn't mean I particularly want to part with them.

Selling classic cars can be a fraught business, but here are some tips on selling old cars anyway.

(If your car is pre-1970, why not drop me a line here about your car for sale? you never know, I may know someone interested in buying it!).
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2. Valuing classic cars.

I get quite a few emails now via this website, from people asking for clues as to what their old car or truck may be worth, or pointers to where they might find out this kind of information. Putting a valuation on something requires many many things to be considered before a judgement can be made. One of the best things to do if your car is quite a popular model, is have a read through recent vintage and classic car magazines and see what other people are listing your type of car for, although its important to compare like with like - if you have a rubber bumper MGB GT, there's not a great deal of point comparing your car with chrome bumpered MGB GTs for instance as like-for-like condition wise, the chrome bumper car will be worth more.

Something to bear in mind is that despite a car being advertised for a given sum, there's no guarantee that the car received any enquiries, or indeed sold for that or any other amount. You could try ringing up to see if the car did indeed go, maybe posing as a potential buyer, but scanning the classifieds on a regular basis should give you a good idea of where to pitch the asking price of your car.

Another route to follow may be to get in touch with respected specialists for your particular car, and get them to give it a professional valuation - it may cost a few bob but confirmation of a car's value from a respected person in the trade could make you car more appealing than other similar examples for sale. Don't put too much sway on the valuations given by classic car insurance policies. Many old cars are advertised along the lines of '.. Insurance valuation 7500, bargain at 5000 .. ' but as these valuations are often based on a series of photographs and a written description submitted by the author, they are at best indicative only of what the vehicle may be worth should it really be as mint as made out .. and judging a car's value by photo alone is really a minefield. I've got some great photos of my old blue Spitfire, and to all intents and purposes it looked mint, but I know that when the photos were taken the car had no floors in it (they were in the middle of being replaced) and to move the car I had to sit on a plank of wood running from the sill to the transmission tunnel! You may think that the Hillman Husky (for instance) that has the oak tree growing through it at the bottom of your garden must be worth plenty due to its rarity, but the real test will be in how many people come beating down your door to get at it, so realism when setting your asking price will be the key to getting interested parties through your front door. (If you have a question regarding a particular car that you wish to sell, please feel free to email me using the contact address on the homepage).
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3. Where to advertise your car for sale.

Once you've decided to sell, and have a price in mind, the next and biggest hurdle to cross is where to advertise it. Traditionally, the best way has been to list the car as a photo-advertisement in one of the many historic car magazines that are around nowadays, although the lead time from submitting the advert to it actually getting printed could be a month or two, so you need to plan ahead.

Another established way of selling on your machine is to enter it into a car auction, ideal if you want to shift the car on in a hurry although not the best place to get the best price necessarily, as many people (including traders) attend the auctions to get a bit of a bargain themselves. Also the thing to remember with auction sales is the auction house commission. Sometime it's a buyer's commission, whereby the successful bidder for your car will pay an additional sum to the auction house, whereas other companies operate a seller's commission, whereby it's down to you to pay a set percentage, assuming your car sells and meets its reserve (ie the minimum price that you'd be willing to sell the car for) if you've set one. Percentages vary, anything between 5%-15% so check up first, as a 15% sellers fee will eat a chunk out of the hammer price.

Internet auctions continue to be popular. When listing the car on an internet auction site, such as ebay for instance (the leading online auction site at the moment), be sure to explain the car and its good & bad points in great detail as the more comprehensive and honest the description is, the better chance you have of giving someone the confidence to bid on your car unseen. Same goes for images, ensure that you have a good selection of clear digital photos to hand that you can upload to the web so that people can have a virtual look around of your motor. Should the car sell, you will then be charged a seller's commission based on a sliding percentage scale tied in with the car's final sale price.

The beauty of an internet auction on such a popular site, is that the potential audience is vast. You can select whether you are willing to accept bidders from outside your country, and if so the payment methods that you are willing to handle. All you need to do is register on ebay as a seller, which is in itself fairly painless, and off you go. If however selling at online auction sounds altogether too troublesome (you can get lots of strange people contacting you ) you are left with the traditional methods already mentioned, or one of the specialist vintage & classic car sales sites. Another popular option, especially during summer months and the show season, is to book your car in for a show, take it along, and pop a For Sale notice in the window. This can be a very effective way of selling your car quickly to someone local, without the hassle of going through an auction or hanging around for a magazine advert to appear.
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4. When is the best time to sell?

Surprising as it may seem, the timing of your selling a car can play at large part of whether the car sells at all. When the first glimpses of sunshine hit our green and pleasant land, many thoughts turn to running a convertible car, visions of having to drive it when the weather turns bad being overwritten with wind in the hair images, bowling along a deserted country road on a bright sunny day. So this can be a very good time of year to sell an open topped motorcar, whereas the chances of selling a ragtop in the depths of winter are much reduced, unless you get a canny soul come along willing to buy the car off-season but hoping for a knock-down price.

The lead up to Christmas, and immediately afterwards, can be a slow time to sell a car, simply because most people's budgets will be assigned to buying presents and not on their next aged automobile.
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5. Preparing your car.

The amount of preparation that you car will require prior to a sale attempt will vary from car to car, much depending on how well its been maintained to date, and the market to whom its being pitched at.

If you're trying to sell, say, a Citroen DS that's recently been exhumed from the bottom of a canal, there's not much point daubing on a tin of tyre black hoping for a better price. But if you're selling something that is renowned for having a sumptuous interior for example, perhaps a P5 Rover or a stately Humber, the sale may be eased by you giving the trim a good scrub and a good dose of leather food, so making the best of the car's potentially best feature.

On any car other than a project, it's important to make the best of whatever you've got. It may sound obvious, but many people don't make the effort when it comes to presentation, and it can impact the successful sale of your classic. At the very least give the car a good clean inside and out, including the boot area and under the bonnet, attention to all these points makes the car all the more appealing to a potential purchaser. Give the wheels a good clean too, and if they are at all dowdy or have flaky paint, a quick rub down and lick of fresh paint works wonders in improving the look of the whole car. Polish the glass too (not the windscreen, it could smear) inside and out using glass cleaner. The windows may have seemed clean originally, but a quick dose of Windolene will have them sparkling a treat.

Give the tyres a good scrub too, and don't forget the mudflaps either as this attention to detail can make all the difference. Avoid the paint-on tyre blackening paints, they usually look way too tacky and smack of someone who is getting desperate to sell their motor.

If you've been smoking in your car, ensure that all the ashtrays are spotless, and that the stench of tobacco isn't the first thing that a potential buyer is hit by when they open the door, believe me it can put off lots of people.

Along with cosmetics, there are a number of other little jobs you can do to entice a potential buyer into thinking that your car is the one for them. Give it a service, change the oil and give it a greasing (if applicable) ... ok it may take you a morning, but people will be more encouraged if they think that they don't have to dive in straightaway to service it.

If you plan to take some photographs, say for an internet auction, give some thought as to where you photograph it. You might think that your driveway will do, but is that really the best image to present your car against? You might be fond of the assorted items hanging on the washing line behind the car, but you could make a little extra effort and drive down to a nearby park or woodland area for example, and photograph the car in a nice setting, on a cheery bright day that shows the colour of the paintwork at its best.

If it's a roadworthy car, try to ensure that is has plenty of MOT on it, as that too will further endear the car to an interested party, even if technically it no longer requires an annual MOT test.
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6. Doing the deal.

For the sake of argument let's say that the car is being sold from your home address (people are generally more comfortable with viewing a car at the seller's home address, as opposed to a pub car park). Try to be as honest as you can with the potential buyer, don't hide anything but likewise don't feel obligated to explain in detail every single flaw, after all the car IS old and unless it's been subject to a 100 point concours restoration, the buyer must accept that there's every chance that there will be areas that could be improved, although anything that is safety related must of course be pointed out.

Leave the viewer some time to look over the car without you breathing down their neck, although it's probably wise not to leave them the keys in case they decide to take off in your pride & joy. They'll want a test drive, but don't just let them drive off in your car, take them for a spin first and only let them have a go if you're satisfied that they are serious, and have appropriate insurance. Don't leave the keys in the ignition while you change seats, as they could drive off while you're walking around to the passenger seat.

Assuming that they are happy, they'll come in with a price they're willing to pay, often a fair bit less than you were asking for - negotiate and haggle, keep at it and with a bit of luck you'll reach an amicable solution. All that's then required is payment. Cash is favourite for many, but if they insist on paying by cheque then hang on to the car until the cheque has cleared, don't trust them simply because they have an honest face. If they're paying by bank transfer, make no moves to release the car until you've at least seen the money in your account. Once you've got the payment, sign over the V5C (either on the logbook itself or online) and give them a receipt, and say goodbye to your old car, not forgetting to advise your insurance company of the sale (I do this just in case the new buyer goes through speed cameras at speed shortly after the sale and claims that it must have been me driving - at least this way there is some immediate record of the sale being made).
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