How To Sell A Classic Car – What is important to successfully sell your classic

sell a classic car

Correct preparation can make all the difference when it comes to selling your classic. We explain all the things you have to pay attention to to sell a classic car with success.

Selling your modern family saloon or SUV is generally quite a straight-forward affair. There are a number of car valuation websites out there that will give you a fairly decent estimate of what you can expect to get, and most people agree on what influences values. Stamped service books, lowish mileages for the year and a lack of dents generally work in the seller’s favour.

When it comes to classic cars the situation is somewhat more complicated than that. Sentimentality, originality, historical significance and even famous previous owners can all have a bearing on a car’s value. Of course, in an ideal world we would never have to part with our beloved classics, but if it has to be done then make sure you don’t get short-changed in the process. Classic car buyers can be an altogether more demanding bunch and correct preparation is key to ensuring that your sale goes through with the best results for both parties.

How to sell a classic car – Washing and Waxing

A quick hose down may be good enough for your nearly new Audi A4 but that 1984 Ferrari 308 GTS you are trying to sell will need a little bit more attention.

Other than the obvious wash and wax that goes with any sale preparation, the engine bay and undercarriage should be thoroughly cleaned too. Spraying water onto an old engine is asking for trouble, so before you get started cover the battery, fuse box, carburettor, distributor and alternator with plastic bags.

Apply engine degreaser to the oily bits and wash it all down with a low-pressure hose. Use a damp cloth on sensitive components and be sure to put a drip tray underneath the engine to collect any oil and grit. Minor chips, blown light bulbs and tatty pieces of trim should be sorted out too. Paintwork blemishes and evidence of rust should either be patched up or factored into the asking price.

How to sell a classic car – Mechanical Makeover

Unless you are specifically selling the vehicle because of that blown head gasket or rusty exhaust, make sure that the car is in top mechanical condition and that all the fluids are fresh. Clean the battery tray and apply a dab of grease to the connectors as this helps prevent corrosion.

Being upfront about any impending big-ticket service items is important as you would expect the same if you were on the buying side. Dig out those old spare parts that have been sitting in your garage for all those years and add them to the sale, they may be of use to the next owner.

How to sell a classic car – Where (and when) to sell your car

There is no better place to sell your car than right here on the Classic Trader website. Well of course we would say that but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true as you get to directly target your advert to other classic car enthusiasts and you can easily see what similar vehicles are selling for.

Take good quality pictures on a sunny day and if there are dings and dents then include these too as nothing puts a buyer off as much as an unexpected ‘surprise’ come sale time. Especially if they have made a special trip out to view the car. Convertibles sell best in the summer months, although international buyers can keep demand remains strong for certain models throughout the year. More exotic vehicles tend to sell better when they are listed close to end-of-year bonus time. List your car too close to the Christmas period though and few people will be seriously considering a purchase while on holiday.

Economic uncertainty (or a global pandemic) can also have a negative effect on values and even a recent fuel price hike can lower demand for a gas guzzler. If you can wait it out then avoid selling at these low points. When it comes to the wording, be clear and concise, cover all the salient points such as mileage and history without going into too much detail.

How to sell a classic car – Pricing Pricing Pricing

Pricing is a complex algorithm when it comes to rare and older cars but a good starting point is a quick check at what similar vehicles have sold for in the past.

Special factory-fitted features, rarity, low-mileages and originality (matching numbers) are the strongest influencers of classic car prices but things such as a chequered history (famous owners, movie appearances) and the colour all have a bearing on the final value. European buyers tend to be more interested in left-hand drive cars and the fluctuations in major currencies can influence demand levels from foreign buyers.

It may also be a good idea to have a respected specialist or car club provide an official valuation of your vehicle, some charge for this service but it is often a worthwhile expense. Do not put too much stock in the insured value of a classic car as they are rarely accurate and few insurance companies (save for a handful of classic car specialists) will have the expertise to conduct a proper evaluation.

How to sell a classic car – It’s time to let her go

If you are not shipping your car off to a far-flung destination or selling it through a broker then it is quite likely that the buyer will be coming to see your car in person. Let them inspect the car on their own once you have shown them around it, a classic car purchase is more often than not a personal thing and they will appreciate the gesture.

Some people will insist on a test drive and this is fine as long as you have verified their insurance status and seen a current driver’s license. Always accompany the buyer on the drive as this allows you to talk about any peculiarities the car may have and lowers the risk of theft. A pre-planned route is also a good idea, scenic roads and smooth surfaces will leave a better impression than a trip down a traffic congested city street.

How to sell a classic car – No money, no car

Conducting a sale over a weekend does limit your ability to verify the validity of a personal check or bank check so make sure ahead of time whether the buyer is happy to wait until the funds are cleared.

Cash is not the most common method of payment when it comes to pricier classics but it does happen, a more likely payment method is an electronic transfer. Unless the funds can be cleared immediately and are visible in your account it is worth contacting the bank to verify the deposit.

Paperwork Perfection

Perhaps above all else, a fully documented (and verifiable) history file is the best method to ensure that a smooth transaction takes place and there are no sour grapes post-purchase. Classic car owners want to know exactly what they are buying and the muddying effects of time and unverifiable model specifics will have you at loggerheads about the price. Originality, low-mileages and regular maintenance all positively affect values but a lack of any paperwork to back this up will greatly reduce your ability to charge for them. Contacting previous owners and collecting information based on the engine and chassis numbers online can bolster your documentation and make for a more representative listing.

We suggest preparing a one-page document to be signed by both parties that details the salient points of the transaction.  Both the seller’s and buyer’s details as well as the car’s specifics should be listed. Unless you are selling a project car or non-runner, a valid MOT is essential and evidence that any advisories have been attended to will also reassure the buyer. Stick to these guidelines and both parties should come away satisfied with the transaction.

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Text John Tallodi  Photos Newspress

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