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Selling your Car

SELLING OR DWELLING? Published: 12th Jun 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Selling your Car
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It's always a sad affair when you have to sell your beloved classic and the process can often be a difficult let alone an emotional one. Be it people asking silly questions in online auctions, false bids, tyre kickers, test pilots and time wasters, there’s plenty to frustrate the honest and reasonable private seller who wants his classic to go to a good home as well as get a fair price. There’s a bit of a car dealer in all of us and we don’t mean Arthur Daley either. And by following a few simple guidelines you can save yourself considerable hassle as well as net the best price for your classic. Here we look at private sales, online auctions, commission sales and even part- exchanging your now unwanted classic.


Okay, so you’ve decided it’s time to sell, it’s important to maintain an emotional detachment from the car from now on, otherwise it could well be a costly and hardly amicable split. Remember that, despite your love for the old thing, you’re simply moving on an asset.

The market is in good form at the moment, with values generally on the up for most classics, so if you were planning to sell yours now’s a good time.

When you’re finally ready to do the deed, the first action is to research your market. Find out how well other examples are selling and what sort of prices they’re fetching (in the real world) – many owners’ clubs offer valuation services, like the British Mini Club, who charge £10 (or just a fiver if you’re a club member) for this useful service. These can be a very handy tool during any sales negotiation.

Refrain from pricing your car at the same level as classic dealers because you’ll get few takers, look at private sellers and auctions instead. Buying from a dealer invariably costs more, thanks to business overheads and the back-up you (should) get when you buy from a specialist – although with classics this isn’t always the case.


Leave yourself some wiggle-room too, when it comes to valuations, so that the buyer thinks he or she has got a great deal, yet you also got the price you want!

It’s all about mind games but, as a seller, it’s important to be realistic at the same time. More than often than not, if you bought well, you shouldn’t have too much trouble selling, especially if the car looks an attractive proposition.

IT’S ALL ABOUT CATCHING A PUNTER… Think about what attracted you to your classic – does it still press all the right buttons? Because if it doesn’t, then chances are it won’t for the next buyer!

Consider the obvious things – a professional valet can make your car look great, although it’s hardy rocket science to give a car a good wash and scrub. What impresses buyers most is the detailing when preparing a car. For example, door shuts and fuel filler flaps are often missed, as is the condition of the boot compartment and state of the tool kit.

The interior should look as inviting as possible. We’re not simply talking about cleanliness but how ‘new’ it feels and nothing emphasises this more than the condition of what you handle most; steering wheel, gear knob and the driver’s seat. Having these few items refurbished makes a car feel like brand new and doesn’t go unnoticed by a buyer.

How much MoT does the car have left? When was it last serviced – and who did it? A car with a fresh test, shiny plug insulators and fresh, golden oil on the dipstick is much more likely to sell.

If you’re selling a pre-60 classic vehicle consider getting it MoT’d simply for peace of mind, both for you any potential buyers.


If you opt to sell online, which is becoming increasingly popular due to speed, take time to take some good, clear pictures of your car. We all know how many words a picture is worth and a great set of shots can really make your car stand out.

Be honest with the pictures, though, if there’s any damage to the car, photograph it as clearly as possible. When it comes to the text, give your audience as much information as possible in the body of the advert, avoiding the sort of fluff you’d find off-putting – everyone says their car is a ‘lovely example’ and there’s a ‘genuine reason for sale’ but it doesn’t tell buyers anything about the car you’re selling. Should you chose to sell at auction then the same rules mostly apply. Obviously you’ll have to factor auctioneering costs into the selling price plus transportation etc.

Although it’s tempting, don’t set too high a reserve price says Bonhams, and auction companies can advise you here. While a high estimate sounds great, it comes to nothing if it puts buyers off and results in a no sale.
It’s a good idea to photocopy all of the documentation you have for your classic so that during viewing, potential bidders have the opportunity to learn as much about your car as possible. The more they know, the more bids you’re likely to get – hopefully.


The trade can be of considerable help if you want to sell your classic. Obviously a straight ‘buy in’ is entirely possible if the trader likes your vehicle and feels he can make a profit on it and business is good enough to take extra stock in.

Part exchanging can make a lot of sense should you find a classic dealer with an ideal replacement – although don’t try it with a general trader or main dealer as you’ll get a poor return – we know, we’ve done it!
Classic Motoring spoke to Rory Stokes at Beaulieu Garage, who explained “The most important thing, beyond anything else, is the condition of the vehicle. Don’t put a lot of money into the car because you just won’t get it back. A dealer would rather see a rough, but honest car rather than one that has been bodged in an effort to get a quick sale, or been given a dodgy paint job.”

When it comes to part-ex you can be sure the dealer will be scrutinising your car to look for anything they can possibly mark you down on, so make sure everything works as it should. Deal with the small things, like a broken window winder, for example, but don’t bodge big problems in the hopes of bluffing the dealer into a part-ex because they’ll likely see through the quick fix and the price offered will reflect that.

Consider a commissioned sale. Essentially this is where a dealer will sell your classic on your behalf, for a fee. Usually you name your price and the dealer will add its premium resulting to the final screen price. You’ll have to give the vehicle up of course, and this may include the V5; you also need to place a lot of trust with the dealer, too – so get it all in writing and hold onto the V5 – give a photo copy to the trader. A time limit is usually factored in. Bear in mind that, if the dealer spent time and money on your vehicle to make it more saleable, you may be duly charged for it.

For private sales (which remains the most popular way to buy a classic), keep things relaxed and give the viewer plenty of space and time with the car. Make friends with the potential buyer and remember, people only buy from people they like; if they have any doubts in you, your car won’t sell to that buyer.

Overcoming objections is paramount too – be up front about the condition of your car as it’ll save possibly embarrassing or potentially expensive situations later on – although remember you don’t give any warranty with a private sale as many classic dealers don’t either!

Be sure to remember that the potential buyer will be building a mental image of both you and the car on the telephone. If the vehicle has some issues then be frank and honest by saying so, but always end each negative point with a plus side. If they live fairly close by, consider offering to take the car to them for a viewing. Confirm their insurance cover before offering a test drive and always drive the car first; it allows the buyer to concentrate on the car rather than trying to adapt to a strange vehicle. Never, ever allow the car out of your sight.

Potential buyers often turn up with a “friend in the know” – don’t be put off by this mind game but equally, don’t be fooled into thinking your car is a dud simply because a man who professes to be a time served mechanic says so and forces you into taking less money. All cars have faults – especially old ones like ours!
Keep the business of selling your car amicable and if you don’t like the way things are turning or feel you are being taken for a ride, end discussions.

Upon an agreed sale, a sizable holding deposit should be retained. As a general rule of thumb, £10 per every £100 of the asking price should suffice and of course show some strong commitment from the viewer. Ensure you remain up on the deal should they back out by stating on a receipt that 50 per cent of the deposit shall be retained if they fail to complete the sale for no good reason. That said it’s really up to you if you want to do this (would you like it done to you for instance?).

Selling any car is largely common sense but the good thing about selling a classic is that you’re selling your prized motor to a fellow enthusiast who loves old cars – like yours – and so it should be a positively pleasurable experience.

Hopefully it will be a profitable one.

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