Tips for selling your classic car.
1. Why Sell a classic car.
So you have decided to sell your classic car! Well, if your car has been, shall we say, a bit of a troublesome one, then the decision to sell a classic car can be a quick and easy one to make.
But. if you're anything like most classic car owners, putting your pride and joy up for sale is a painful and heart wrenching decision. It does not matter whether you bought it years ago and did nothing with it, or whether you've sweated buckets over a lengthy restoration which has only recently began to show its benefits.
For many, just owning interesting or vintage cars is a good enough reason to hang on to a trusted old friend, even if they don't run very well - if at all. There are many classic cars that haven't taken a trip on the Queen's highways for many a year, but it doesn't mean the owners particularly want to part with them.
Selling classic cars can be a daunting task, but I hope these tips on selling your old car helps.
2. Valuing classic cars.
I often get email from people asking for ideas as to what their old car may be worth, or asking where they can find this kind of information. Putting a value on something requires many things to be considered before a judgement is made. One of the best things to do is read through some vintage and classic car magazines to see how much other people are listing your type of car for, although its important to compare like with like if your car has features that the others don't then your car could be worth more, sometimes a lot more.
One thing to bear in mind is that even if a car is advertised for a given sum, there's no guarantee that the owner has actually received any enquiries, or has sold the car for that or any other amount. Try phoning the owner to see if the car did go, maybe posing as a possible buyer. Just scanning the magazine classifieds or on the Internet on a regular basis should give you a good idea of where to pitch the asking price of your car.
Another way is to contact respected specialists for your particular car, and get them to advise you with a professional valuation - it may cost a bit but just having confirmation of a cars value from a specialist could make you car more appealing than other similar examples for sale. Don't pay to much attention to the valuations given by classic car insurance policies. Many old cars are advertised like this:
'Insurance valuation £9500, grab a bargain now at only £7000 ..... '
These valuations are often based on a set of photographs and a written description. They are at best indicative only of what the vehicle may be worth if it really is in as mint a condition as made out. Judging the value of a car by photo alone is really a minefield (think about whether you would think a car was worth the money based on a photograph you had seen in an advert). Whatever you come up with, the real test will be in how many people beat down your door to get at the car, so be realistic when setting your asking price, it will be the key to getting interested parties picking up the phone or email.
3. Where to advertise your car for sale.
You have decided to sell, and you have a price in mind, so the next and perhaps the biggest hurdle is where to advertise it. Traditionally, the best way has been to list the car in one of the many historic car magazines that are around although the time from submitting the advert to it appearing in print could be a month or two, so you need to plan ahead.
A car auction is ideal if you want to sell your car on in a hurry but probably not the best place to get the best price as many people (traders included) go to the auctions looking to get a bargain themselves. Also remember that with auction sales comes the auction house commission which you will have to pay. Sometime its a buyers commission, where the successful bidder pays a sum to the auction house, but other auctioneers operate a sellers commission, where you have to pay a set percentage assuming your car sells and meets the reserve you have set. Percentages will vary, but anything between 5%-15% so ask first, as a 15% sellers fee can be a bit of a shock on the hammer price of £55 that you got for your rusty old wreck!
Internet auctions are now more widespread and gaining popularity. When you list the car on an internet auction site such as ebay, make sure you explain the good & bad points in great detail as the more detailed the description the better chance you have of someone having the confidence to bid. The same thing applies to pictures, make sure you have a good selection of clear photos that you can upload to the site so that people can have a good look around yoru car, both inside and out. Listing a car on ebay costs but not too much, regardless of the cars starting price, but remember that should the car sell, you will then be charged a final valuation fee based on the cars final sale price.
Obviously an auction on such a popular site, means the potential audience is vast. Also, you can decide on whether you will accept bidders from outside the country, and the payment methods you are willing to handle. All you need do is register on ebay as a seller (a fairly painless process) and list your car! Bear in mind that emails offering to buy your car at twice the price you are looking for and they will pay the shipping costs to South Africa are most likely to be a scam. Do not reply to these enquiries!!
If selling on ebay is a bit too daunting, there are many specialist classic car classified sites around, just search on Classic Classifieds (or maybe the search you used to get here!)
During summer months and the show season, why not book your car in for a show, take it along, and put a for sale notice in the window. A very effective way of putting your car quickly in front of an interested audience without going through an auction or waiting months for a magazine advert to appear.
4. When is the best time to sell?
The timing of when you sell your car can have a large impact on whether the car sells at all. The first glimpses of sunshine and many thoughts turn to hitting the open road in a convertible, with thoughts of having to drive it when the weather turns bad being dismissed with dreams of hair blowing in the wind (some of us don't have much hair to blow in the wind nowadays though!) None the less this can be a very good time of year to sell an open topped car, whereas the chances of selling the same car in the middle of winter are much reduced, unless you find someone willing to buy off-season, hoping for a bargain.
But what if it is Christmas? Won't the good lady of the house want to buy her hubby a classic present? No is the simple answer, unless they already have enough vintage or classic cars to fill a barn!
Most people are simply looking to buy presents for the kids and family, and a large purchase like a classic car is not usually top of the list.
5. Preparing your car.
Before you put your classic car up for sale, decide on how much preparation it really needs as it is all money out of your pocket and judge it against how much of it you will get back. The amount of preparation your car needs before a sale attempt is obviously going to vary from car to car, so much depending on how its been maintained and the market you pitch at.
If you're trying to get rid of a car recently been pulled from a very old cow shed, there is not much point in slapping a bit of tyre black onto the tyres hoping for a better price. But let's say you are selling something that is well known for having a luxurious interior, then the sale may be made easier by giving the trim a good scrub and a good dose of leather food, to make the best of the best feature.
It is important to make the best of whatever you've got.
That may sound obvious, but many people don't really make the effort when it comes to good presentation which can have a massive impact on the successful sale of any classic car. At the very least it deserves a good clean both inside and out. Make sure you remember the boot area and under the bonnet. Attention to detail makes the car all the more appealing to a potential buyer. Give the wheels a good clean and if they are at all dowdy or have flaky paint, a quick rub down and lick of fresh paint can work wonders! Polish the glass inside and out using proper glass cleaner but not the windscreen as it could smear. The windows may have seemed clean originally, but a quick dose of windowlene will have them sparkling in no time.
If anyone has been smoking in the car, make sure that all the ashtrays are emptied and spotless. The smell of nicotine when a potential buyer opens the door is not the best selling point you will ever have!
Along with cosmetics, there are other things you can do to entice a buyer into believing that your car is the one for them. If it is relevant, give it a service, change the oil and give it a greasing, it may take you a little while but people will be more encouraged if they think that they don't have to dive in straightaway and servicing it.
When you take your photos, give some thought as to where your cat sits and, more importanly, what is in the background. Why do you think there are so many video clips on television and uTube showing people and things in the foreground but the story is completely lost because of the guy mooning in the bakcground! Why not drive down to a nearby park or woodland and photograph the car in a nice setting, on a nice day that shows the paintwork and the car at its best.
If its roadworthy, try to ensure that is has plenty of MOT on it, that too will further endear the car to an interested party.
6. Doing the deal.
Try to be as honest as you can with the potential buyer. Don't hide anything but at the same time don't feel you have to explain in fine detail every single flaw. Just remember that the car IS old and the buyer must accept that there is every chance that there will be areas that could be improved. A very important point is to ensure that your point out any safety related issue.
Just remember, there are websites around which will allow a potential buyer to check on the history of the car.
One is, Ask Mid is a usefull website to check if YOUR OWN car is on the Motor Insurance Database. I checked on a car I used to own, (You have to tick a box confirming that you are the owner of the car) many moons ago and this is the message I got back:
"FAG335D is NOT on the Motor Insurance Database today.
By allowing someone to drive this vehicle, the driver is at risk of being STOPPED by the police and having their vehicle impounded, and possibly DISPOSED OF, if proof of insurance cannot be provided."
Another one is the Autocheck website which states:
"1 car in 3 has a hidden history"
A single check on the car you are selling will cost £19.99 at the current date. It is usefull for a buyer to just having a check to see if the car has outstanding finance, is an insurance write-off, is recorded as stolen or has been clocked.
Let the buyer have time to look it over, without you breathing down their neck. It is probably best not to leave them the keys though just in case they decide to take off in it! No doubt that if it is driveable, they will want to take it for a test drive. Go with them! It may seem obvious but even someone who looks the most trustworthy person you have ever met and offers to leave his credit card behind MUST have a reason for not wanting you with them! Don't leave the keys in the ignition while you change seats either, as they could easiley drive off while you're walking round the car.
Before they get into the drivers seat make sure you see proof of their insurance. You don't want them wrapping your car round a lamp post and walking away leaving you the cost of repairs.
Once they are happy they will probably offer you a price they're willing to pay. Which will invariably be less than you are asking for. Generally people are happy to negotiate and haggle a bit. Keep it friendly and with luck you will reach a point where you are both happy. This now leave only the payment. Cash is usually best, but if they insist on paying by cheque then wait until the cheque has cleared before handing over the keys. A simple thing that most people expect, if they don't, then don't sell them the car! Tell them to come back with the cash. Once paid, don't forget to advise your insurance company and the DVLC of the sale.
I once sold an Austin 1100 and had the police at my door at 2am as it had been used as a getaway car! Yes you read it right, an Austin 1100 was used as a getaway car. The police couldn't understand why I spent ten minutes laughing before I could explain that it could only do 30mph downhill with a prevaling wind and that I had sold it that afternoon for £50. Don't trust your buyer simply because they have an honest face, take it from me!
Hmmm... not sure about this link, an American book that claims you can buy any car for around 30% - 40% off the sale price.
Let Me Know if you use this one and how it turns out.
Of course, you could always make your car even more attractive to buyers by converting it to run on water!
And this link is about Making Biodiesel at home.