How To Sell Your Classic Car


Your Reason for Selling Your Classic

Right so you have decided to sell you pride and joy. There are many reasons why you would sell your car and most are given in advertisements in the back of classic car magazines. Reasons include expanding family, new job or new project forces sale. Some of these may be genuine but whatever your reason you want to get the best price and a quick sale for your car.

Putting up your classic car for sale is a painful and heart wrenching decision, regardless of whether it brought you nothing but trouble, you bought it and did nothing with it, whether you've sweated night and day over a lengthy restoration, or your better half has told you that it has to go.

Selling classic cars can be a difficulty business and full of pitfalls, but following are some helpful tips on selling old cars that will hopefully lead to a quick and profitable sale.

How to value your car

We all tend to look at our cars with rose tinted glasses and think that they are in better condition and worth more than they are. The value of your car is only what someone is willing to pay, you might think your car is worth £5,000.00 but if other cars of the same make and model are only going for £4,000.00 then you car needs to either be very special or you need to be a super sales man.
.One of the best ways to get a value for your car especially if your car is quite a popular model is to check the prices in recent classic car magazines and see what other people are listing your type of car for. It is very important to compare like with like - if you have a rubber bumper MGBGT, there's not a great deal of point comparing your car with chrome bumpered MGBGT's for instance as like for like condition wise, the chrome bumper car will always be worth more.

MGB GT Chrome Bumper
MGB GT Rubber Bumper

Some classic car magazines such as Practical Classics print a price guide to the value of most models of classic car with three different levels which will give you the information to judge the price range for yourself.

Condition 1 :- Car is in superb condition in all respects, not concourse but superbly maintained with no major faults.

Condition 2 :- Car is capable of regular use and have a current MOT certificate but will need work to make them condition 1

Condition 3 :- Cars usually need a compete rebuild but the might have an MOT and are drivable.

Going back to our MGBGT example a condition 1 Chrome bumper MGBGT is worth £4500 where are rubber bumper model in condition 1 is worth £3250 so there is quite a difference between the two models.

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 although it will cost you having a value from a respected person in the trade could make you car more appealing than other similar examples for sale. Don't rely to much on the valuations given by classic car insurance policies. Many old cars are advertised along the lines of '.. Insurance valuation £8500, bargain at £6000. These valuations are often based on a series of photographs and a written description submitted by the owner, they are at best indicative only of what the vehicle may be worth should it really be as mint as made out. Going again back to the MGB GT, my MGB has and insurance value of £5000.00 but there is no way I could sell it for that amount and the condition 1 value is £500 less than this value. Judging a cars value by photo alone is really a minefield. I've got some great photos of my old red Spitfire, and to all intents and purposes it looked mint (see photos at the start of the restoration) but if you follow the restoration you will see how bad the car was.

Setting the asking price is the most difficult part and makes the difference between people coming to see your car or not, setting the price too cheap can be a bad as too high. I heard a story that someone was selling a classic BMW and needed a quick sale so advertised it for about £3,000.00 (true value was closer to £5,000.00). No one phoned or showed any interest in the car for months, it was suggested that the price be increased to £6,000.00 and the car sold. The price being too low people thought it was too good to be true and did not bother to enquire about the car, as soon as the price was realistic a deal was done.

Where To Advertise Your Car

Traditionally, the best way has been to list the car as a photo-advertisement in one of the many classic car magazines the downside to these however is the lead time from submitting the advert to it actually getting printed could be a month or two so this way you will not get a quick sale although you will be reaching your target audience. If you are a member of a car club for example the MG owners club (as long as you are selling your MG) then you can place your advert in the back of their magazine, this way you are reaching fellow club members although none members will not have access to the magazine.

Another well trodden way of selling on your car 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. Percentages vary, anything between 5%-15% so check up first. As well as the run of the mill auctions there are many classic car auctions throughout the year and throughout the country which not only sell the million pound Ferrari's but everyday classics as well. Information on these can be found in many classic car magazine and on the internet. These are better auctions to sell your classic as again the audience is targeted to classics and you are not competing with someone selling a Mondeo.

Internet auctions are new to the game . When listing the car on an internet auction site such as ebay which is probably 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 classic. Listing a car on ebay (currently) costs £5 regardless of the cars start valuation, although you must bear in mind that should the car sell, you will then be charged a sellers commission based on a sliding percentage scale tied in with the cars final sale price.

The advantage 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! (click here to go to ebay).

Auto trader is another good way to advertise your car as it has a weekly magazine and an online section, this means that you only have to wait a week to get it into the magazine and it goes online in hours. Auto trader is also quite local which has advantages and disadvantages, advantages being it being local then whoever buys the car does not have too far to move it and can easy come to view the car. The disadvantage is because being local it limits the target audience but with it being online as well then it does open up the rest of the country if people search. Auto trader is however expensive and I found that I got a lot of phone calls from other companies who had buyers waiting to buy my car (although you can now hide your phone number to stop this).

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 waiting for the phone to ring.

When is The Best Time To Sell Your Classic

The time of year can make a big difference to the price you get for your classic are or even if you sell it at all. It is common sense that classic cars are really a summer hobby for most so trying to sell one in the winter is never the best. For example trying to sell a soft top in the middle of a snow storm will be much difficult than on a nice summers day. (but saying that I bought my Spitfire in February and could not test drive it because of the snow).

The lead up to Christmas, and immediately afterwards, can be a difficult time to sell a car, simply because most people have no money after Christmas and are spending it on presents before.

The prices of classics are generally lower in the winter but it is the old case of supply and demand and there will always be someone out there looking for a classic just be aware that they are probably looking to get a winter bargain.


Getting Your Car Ready For Sale

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.

It is common sense but you must make the car as presentable as possible, give the car a good clean and polish inside and out. If the car has chrome make sure it is shining and bright, a morning spent on the car will make the difference between the car selling or not and that you get the price that you want. If the tyres are getting a bit old and low on tread change them, a good set of wheels will encourage your buyer to part with his cash, alternatively if the tyres are not too old and have good tread then a bit of tyre paint will help them look good although some brands make the tyres look too false so check before you apply.

Along with cosmetics, there are a number of other little jobs you can do to entice a buyer into thinking that your car is the one for them. Give your car a service, change the oil and give it a greasing but people will be a little more encouraged if they think that they don't have to do any work on the car and it also gives the impression that the car has been well looked after.

You might think a bit of money spent here and there is a waste but in the long run it will help you to sell the car and hopefully set you asking price.

If you plan to take some photographs give some thought as to where you photograph it. Try and find a nice location, classic cars always look good parked on grass or in the countryside, remember you are trying to sell the idea of classic car motoring and a nice picture always helps. The more photos you can include the better as it will give the buyer a better impression of your car, if it has a nice clean engine bay and a good interior make sure you photograph it.

If the car is roadworthy ensure that is has plenty of MOT on it, this will make the car more attractive to a potential buyer. (Click here to a guide to MOT preparation)

How to Complete The Deal

Try to be as honest as you can with the buyer and don't hide anything but likewise don't feel obligated to explain in details every single flaw, after all the classic car is old and unless its been subject to a concourse restoration, the buyer must accept that there's every chance that there will be areas that could be improved, although of course anything that is safety related must of course be pointed out.

The buyer will want a test drive, but don't just let them drive off in your classic and before letting them anywhere near the drivers seat, ask to see proof of their insurance as you don't want them dumping your pride an joy in a hedge and then walking away leaving you to sort out the repairs.

Once you have agreed a price with a bit of haggling and negotiation then it is down to payment. Cash is the preferred method , but if they insist on paying by cheque then do not release the car until the cheque has cleared, don't trust anyone. Once you've been paid, sign over the V5 and give them a receipt. Do not forget to send the part of the V5 to the DVLA and cancel your insurance policy (you may be entitled to a refund).


Selling Scams

There has been a lot of information in the press and on the internet about people selling cars and them being scammed by criminals. It happen to me a couple of times when I was selling my last car. I got an email from someone regarding the car (looked quite genuine) and they were asking for some more information which I sent. I then got another email from a "different" buyer but this email was identical to the first but with a different named buyer. Over the next few weeks I got a number of emails mostly from different buyers in different countries saying they really wanted my car but could not get across to see it and would be buying through an agent. How the scam works that they agree to buy your car and send you a cheque for a lot more than the value of the car. They make some excuse about to cover agent fees and will you return the extra cash. You put the money in the bank and the cheque is credited to your account (but not clears) so you let the car go and send the extra money. Later you get a letter from your bank to say that the cheque was no good and you have lost your money and the car so seller beware. With all the publicly regarding these scams you wonder why people fall for them but they do.


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| Updated 22-Mar-2008 |