Whether you’re in a financial bind or you’ve lost interest in this hobby, selling a classic car can be a bit stressful, especially if you’ve never done it before. The fact that you will have to interact with strangers and try to actually get money for your machine seems like a daunting task.
Selling your classic car doesn’t have to be a painful experience, in fact, if you take a few extra steps in selling it, you might find yourself not really stressed out at all. I have sold over a dozen cars in the last few years, several of them being classic cars, so I’ve been able to compile a helpful list of tips you can use when you’re selling your classic car that will make your experience much easier.
Know How Much Your Classic Car Is Worth
The very first thing you should when when selling your classic car is to do your homework and figure out how much your classic car is worth. Understand that there is a big difference between what you think it’s worth and what it’s actually worth.
Knowing how much a classic car is worth can be a little tricky if you’ve done some modifications to it, especially if you’ve done some that are uncommon. How much work you’ve done to it and how well you’ve maintained it is also a contributing factor to it’s worth.
A great way to understand how much you should ask for when selling your classic car is to look at other similar cars for sale and see how much they’re selling for. Some online platforms will still show cars that have sold and for how much. NADA Guides classic car section also has a pretty accurate algorithm that can help you figure out out much it’s worth.
It’s hard to not get anxious while you’re in the middle of selling your classic car. You may be getting minimal responses from people or you may get people who show some interest but are totally flaky. Not knowing how much time it will take to actually sell your classic car is a factor we wish we could control.
They key here is just to be patient. Selling a classic car can sometimes take time, for some that time is longer than others, but it will sell. If it seems you’re not getting any bites from anyone, analyze the way you’ve advertised your car. Do you need to lower the price a little? Have you posted enough pictures? Have you given a good description of what it’s like?
A silly mistake that many people make is not even posting contact information. People get so caught up in selling and advertising their classic car that they forget the most important information: their phone number. Always make sure your contact information is very visible so anyone can easily find.
Don’t short-sell yourself when you’re selling your classic car. Sell it for what it’s worth and don’t be in a rush to get it gone from the first unreasonable offer you get (unless you are in a time crunch for whatever reason). Take your time in selling your classic car, even if it takes longer than you thought. You won’t regret it once you sell it for what it’s actually worth rather than being in a hurry to get a few bucks and selling it quickly.
Know How To Complete Transaction Through Your Bank
This tip applies to those who have a classic car loan and still owe money. It is entirely possible to sell your classic car if you still owe money on it, you just have to take a few extra steps in doing so.
Each bank is a little different with their rules about selling when you still owe on the vehicle, so make sure you contact your bank about the steps you need to take to complete the transaction legally. Generally, the bank will have you and the buyer come into the bank and have you complete the transaction there so they can give the seller the title (or legally promise to mail the letter to them).
Make sure that when you have someone who is seriously interested in buying your classic car knows that the title is still with the bank. You’ll need to be open and honest about this; keeping any secrets about the title will not turn out well in the end. Most people don’t mind needing to go to the bank because then they know the title is genuine as well as the car and there won’t be issues with it in the future.
Have The Title Ready
If you don’t have a loan through a bank, make sure you have the title readily available for whoever is going to buy your classic car. Be sure to state in the description of your ad that you have the title with you because that’s a big thing people look for when purchasing a classic car.
If you don’t have the title for your classic car, get one. Most people will not buy a classic car without a title and you will have a significantly harder time selling it that way. You could be the most honest person in the world, but people don’t know if you’re selling them a classic car that still has a lien on it or if they’re buying one that’s stolen.
Making the buyer get a title after they buy your classic car still requires work on your part because the DMV will still ask you as the seller to sign some paperwork. Whether you get a title yourself or not you’ll still have to do paperwork, so get the work done now and get a title. It’ll be easier for you as the owner to get one and it will be a lot less of headache for both you and the buyer in the future.
Clean And Detail Your Classic Car
It’s a bit unbelievable how many people don’t clean their classic cars when they’re trying to sell them. Whether they feel it’s not important and their definition of clean is different from what actual clean is, I’m not sure. I do know that presenting a clean classic car to potential buyers will greatly increase your chances at selling it.
Take some time to do a thorough clean of your classic car. Pressure wash underneath to get rid of any oil and dirt and detail the interior. You can either take it in to a professional and have it detailed or you can do it yourself which is actually a lot cheaper and completely doable. Vacuum the carpet including under the seats as well as the trunk. Make sure you don’t have any personal belongings inside that is accidentally included when you sell it.
When a potential buyer sees a clean classic car, their subconscious automatically believes that the owner maintained the car well and will therefore be a good, reliable classic car for them to own. There’s a lot of psychology behind it, so do your part and make it look presentable and clean.
Pay Attention To The Smell Inside
Aside from making sure your classic car is clean and ready to sell, make sure you pay attention to the smell of the inside. It may be hard for you to recognize any strange odors because you’ve been inside so much and may have gotten used to it. Ask a few people who aren’t used to the smells to smell inside and give you an honest report.
The smell of the inside of a classic car can really make or break a sale. Any foul odors will be sure to repel any potential buyers. On the flip side, having a really good smell inside can more solidify the sale. This is a form of psychology real estate agents use when showing people houses; they usually implement an aroma of fresh smelling cookies in houses which actually works wonders.
Though you don’t have to make your classic car smell like fresh baked cookies, try using a few air fresheners inside. Use one that is commonly liked and not necessarily your favorite. Make sure you don’t overload the inside with the strong smell; do it in moderation that makes it seem like it’s the natural smell once you enter the classic car.
Gather Receipts And Records
Any receipts or records you have about anything that was done to your classic is looked upon as gold among classic car buyers. Find as many of these records as you can and make a copy of all of them so they are ready to give away to the seller.
This task may take some extra time to accomplish if you didn’t organize them before, but I promise it’s worth your time. It will spark people’s interest if you post in your listing that you have a copy of all maintenance records ready to give away. This is especially important if you’ve done any major modifications to your classic car; this can prove you actually did it to the buyer and the buyer will feel more confident in purchasing your classic car.
Also include small and what seems insignificant receipts such as paperwork for oil changes, new windshield wipers, nuts and bolts, etc. Those small and insignificant purchases can actually add up to be worth a lot to the buyer. Having a file of records shows the buyer that you’re organized and took care of the classic car well, so they’ll feel they’re purchasing a solid classic car.
Post Listing On Several Platforms
Don’t be afraid to post your classic car for sale on several different platforms. In fact, I highly recommend you use several platforms at once so as many people as possible can see your classic car is for sale.
A lot of people may get stressed out about having to keep track of where their classic car has been posted for sale, but to me it’s worth the little bit of stress to get the word out that you’re selling. This will help you sell your classic car a lot faster, too.
There are many place you can advertise that your classic car is for sale such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Autotrader, etc. Other places include busy streets and car shows. For a more detailed list of places you can list your classic car for sale, click here.
Some platforms only allow you to post a certain amount of pictures or give you a certain amount of space for a description if you choose the free option. Do the best you can with what you have. You’ll be surprised at how many people across the country are willing to come and buy your classic car. I once had a guy drive from California to Idaho to buy my 1968 Chevy Pickup after he saw my ad on Autotrader.
Inconsiderate People Will Contact You
One of the worst things about having to sell a classic car is dealing with people who are flakes and completely inconsiderate. I’ve had to deal with my share of inconsiderate people while selling my vehicles. I’ve seen just about everything from making appointments and getting no shows to people simply wanting to take my vehicles for a test drive because it “looked cool” and weren’t actually interested in buying.
Sometimes there’s really no way around it, you will deal with people that frustrate you. People will try to low-ball you to an offensive amount and people will just be straight up rude. You may wonder what the world has come to (which I thought many times myself), but just know that you can control who your classic car goes to and that you’re not alone in your encounters with offensive people.
Luckily in the classic car world, you’re dealing with a higher caliber of people because they are spending more money, so my hope is that you won’t run in to this. Just be aware that it’s a possibility and take it with a grain of salt if it does happen.
Take Tons Of Pictures
One of the biggest mistakes us classic car owners can do while selling a classic car is not doing the classic car justice by posting poor pictures of it. I know that when I’ve been in the market of buying a classic car, any time I encounter an ad that had only two or three pictures that weren’t good quality, I automatically skipped it.
Give your classic car the best chance at selling by taking decent pictures, and take a lot of them. Park your classic car in a cool place and pretend you’re doing a photo shoot. You don’t need to hire a photographer, the camera on your phone will do just fine. But you do need to make sure there aren’t any glares or any blurriness to the pictures. That can be frustrating to those who are looking at them online.
Take pictures of everything on your classic car. Take pictures of it at several different angles from the front, sides, and the back. Take pictures of the interior, the ceiling, the floor, the wheels, the undercarriage, under the hood, and even the trunk. Make any potential buyer feel like they’re already becoming connected to the classic car when they look through the pictures you’ve taken. This will also help in selling your classic car much faster.
Write A Long Description In Listings
This specific tip for selling your classic car may take you a lot of time to put together, but again I assure you it will be well worth your time. Sit down and type up a very descriptive depiction of your classic car. Be as detailed as you can and try to be in the buyer’s perspective and answer any questions you think they might have.
Don’t worry about the description being long, potential buyers love getting as much information they can get about a classic car before they actually go and look at it. Again, let buyers think they’re becoming connected with your classic car by the way you’re describing it.
If you feel like you’re not good at writing or aren’t fast at typing, having a friend help you. Or you can try typing something up and have a friend proof read it and give suggestions for improvements. This may seem like a little overkill, but posting a good description of your classic car on online platforms increase your chances at getting more people interested and can sell your classic car much faster.
Be Attentive To Calls, Texts, And Emails
Once you have your classic car listed for sale on several different platforms (and making sure your contact information is available on all of those platforms), make sure you pay attention to the calls, texts, and emails you’re getting.
If you’re getting texts and calls from an unknown number, it’s easy to assume that it’s a scammer that’s trying to contact you. But at the same time, you don’t want to ignore any potential buyers who are trying to contact you to schedule a time to come look at the classic car you’re selling. This is a time you should not be ignoring calls and texts. Also make sure your voicemail box isn’t full so people are free to leave messages if you simply are not able to respond right away.
Make it a point to check your email daily. Many people prefer to use email as a way of communication, but if you only check your email once a week, you’re probably missing out on a lot of potential sales. This is especially important if you’re using Craigslist because one of the main ways people contact through that platform is email.
You will get scammers that will contact you through all three ways of communication. There are ways to easily tell that it’s a scammer. If there are a lot of misspelled words in their texts or emails, if they claim to be out of the country, or if they try to convince you to ship the car and they will pay you via Paypal are all red flags you should be wary of.
Understand The Time Of Year You’re Selling
There are some times of the year that are better to sell a classic car compared to other times of the year. Understanding the usually activity of buyers compared to the time of year is important while you’re selling your classic car.
The winter months, December through March, are the worst and slowest times of year to sell. That’s not saying it’s impossible to sell your classic car during those months, it will probably just be a lot slower and take more time to sell. Buyers are prowling during these months for good deals because they know those who are selling their classic cars may be desperate to sell before they have to store it for the winter.
Selling during the spring and summer months are the best times to sell. That’s usually the time buyers get the itch to go out and buy a classic car because they can see everyone else driving theirs around and they want one too. This is also a time buyers may be more willing to pay a little extra for that classic car simply because there’s a lot of competition.
Have A Bill Of Sale Ready
While you’re getting ready to sell your classic car, you should print out a few copies of a Bill of Sale. A Bill of Sale is a somewhat informal agreement between you and the buyer about how much they paid for the classic car and that you as the seller are selling it in full disclosure. This is a document that is used by the buyer so they can show it to the DMV to get registration and pay sales tax on their purchase.
Even though a Bill of Sale is something usually used by just the buyer, it’s a good idea you keep of copy of it for your own records. If, for whatever reason, the DMV questions you about anything with the classic car or the buyer comes back and says they didn’t sign anything, you have proof that they did. This isn’t a common occurrence, but you want to make sure you have a back up if needed.
A Bill of Sale usually looks something like this:
BILL OF SALE
Seller’s name and address:
Buyer’s name and address:
Classic car make, model, and year:
Classic car VIN:
You can either look online and print out a Bill of Sale, use this one listed above, or simply make one yourself. Authorities aren’t too picky about the layout of it, as long as you have the buyer’s and seller’s name, date, vehicle information, price, and signature on it.
Never Accept Anything Other Than Cash
My number one rule I follow when it comes to selling any type of vehicle is to never accept anything other than cash from the buyer. Make sure you are very firm on this with any potential buyer and don’t be convinced to accept anything else. Make it clear in your ad that you will only accept cash.
There’s a lot of trouble you can run into by accepting anything other than cash. Personal checks or a promise to send money via Venmo or Paypal are dangerous. People can scam you very easily by using these payment methods. The scary thing about this is that if you accept a check and deposit it, it may seem legitimate at first. Then after a few days when it doesn’t clear, that’s when you realize you’ve just had your classic car stolen. Cash always ensures you will get your money for the classic car you’re selling.
When someone does pay cash, make sure to add up the cash in front of the person immediately to make sure they paid you the right amount. Don’t assume they gave you enough and count it up later because you’ll never get the rest of your money if they didn’t pay you the right amount.
The exception to this rule is if someone is using a car loan to purchase your classic car. In this case, you will complete your transaction at their bank and the bank will directly give you the check. This is a legitimate way to sell a classic car.
Follow The First Come First Served Rule
While you’re trying to sell your classic car, you’ll run into a lot of people who will ask you to hold it for them and not sell it to anyone else. People are really nervy by some of the things they ask you to do for them. The truth is, you don’t owe anything to anyone when it comes to selling your classic car.
There have been far too many times potential buyers have given me a sob story and begged me to hold out for them until they get a chance to look at the classic car. They’ll often ask several days in advance. I felt bad for them and waited for them to show, only to find they stood me up which left me angry and missed out on other interested buyers that contacted me during that time.
90% of people who ask you to hold out for them end up being flakes. Do yourself a favor and abide to the “first come first served rule.” State in your ad that you will not hold it for anyone and that the first person there with cash is the one who gets the classic car. It’s okay to schedule appointments with people a few days in advance, just make sure they understand that you plan to sell it if anyone who wants it before then.
Inform Insurance Once It’s Sold
The second the buyer of your classic car pulls out of your driveway, contact your insurance and inform them you have sold it and no longer want it under your insurance policy. Even if it’s after hours, most insurance agencies have customer service that can help or have answering machines that will record the date and time you called.
The first reason you need to immediately take your classic car off your insurance once you sell it is because you don’t want to be paying a penny more in insurance than you have to. You are no longer using that vehicle, so there is no reason to be paying for it in any way.
The second and most important reason you want to immediately take your classic car off your insurance once it’s sold is because if the buyer gets in some sort of accident on their way home, they can still potentially claim your insurance on it which can greatly affect your personal insurance rates.
It’s doesn’t make sense for this to happen, but it’s absolutely possible. By dropping your insurance immediately, you will no longer be held liable for any accidents the new buyer has gotten in.
What can I do to my classic car to make it worth more? The best way to make your classic car worth more is by keeping it clean and perform regular maintenance. Other factors may include engine repair, body work, or new interior. You will need to do the math and see if investing in such fixes will make it worth more or not.
What are the benefits of antique plates? Having antique plates means you will usually only need to register your classic vehicle once with a one-time fee. You don’t need to do any inspection or emissions testing and you will also save on car insurance. Each state is different with particulars, but this generally applies to everyone. Click here for more info.