How do you sell a classic car?

When it comes to selling cars, there’s a number of different ways to do it. The method you use to sell your car is entirely up to you, it depends on:

a) how soon you want the car out of the way
b) how soon you want the cash in your bank
c) how much effort you want to put into preparing the car
d) how much time you have to deal with prospective buyers

We’ve outlined the different ways to sell your classic car below.

Want some help selling your classic car? You’re in the right place. Find out more.

Selling your car privately – Pros and Cons

Pros – Complete control of the sale, the car stays with you
Cons – Lots of work to prep and photograph the car, people coming to your house, risk of bad offers and time wasters. Can you write…? Will your words and photos do the car justice?

For some classic cars, a small ad in the back of your owners club mag might be all it takes. For other cars, channels such as Autotrader and Gumtree will work, but be prepared to do all of the grafting yourself. This means cleaning the car, photographing the car and dealing with all the enquiries. Do you really want prospective buyers coming to your house, scoping out your garage and offering you half the asking price?

Some of these classified sites are free, and there are some good ones… though big sites that suit modern cars like Autotrader aren’t suited to classic cars.

We have had successes with selling cars privately this way, but we’ve also had some awful experiences. If your car is valuable and desirable, we don’t recommend it.

To get the most money for your car privately, you’ll need a good description and some excellent photographs. We can help with both.

Selling your car on eBay – Pros and Cons

Pros – eBay has a huge reach
Cons – No guaranteed sale, buyers coming to your house, lots of silly enquiries

eBay is an online auction website that charges a fee to list the car, then a final value fee. Buyers can bid online, but be warned… There’s no guarantee they will show up.

In our experience, eBay used to be great – but these days it seems to take 2, 3 or 4 attempts for an auction to finish and an actual buyer to turn up.

It’s not cheap to do, it’s stressful and can be down right frustrating. You’ll spend your evenings answering the same questions over and over, regardless of how much or how little you put in the description. It can be done with eBay, but honestly… We don’t bother anymore.

Still keen to sell your car on eBay? Contact us for help and we can guide you through it.

Selling your car at auction – Pros and Cons

Pros – Its easy. Just drop the car off. You set the reserve.
Cons – Expensive, fixed dates for sales might work against your timeline.

The buzz of the auction hall, the smell of cheap coffee and bacon sandwiches… The classic car auction is a great way to sell your car and guarantee you’ll get the money if it sells. With an auction, there’s no comeback for the buyer if the car blows up after a sale (use that as a buyer beware just as much as it’s an advantage!).

Most auction houses will do the description and photos for you, saving you the effort. Some are better than others at this, and also at marketing their sales. There are auction houses that we rate, and some that we hate, so ask us first! We won’t name names here.

When it comes to values, the auctioneer will discuss the figure he thinks your car will achieve, and where to set the reserve price. They will have a good idea for where the bidding will fall on the day for your car and it’s condition. Be wary though – remember they want cars in the sale just as much as you want to sell it, so watch for false promises. As we said previously, some auction houses are better than others.

Although classic car auctions are popular, the values of cars can go both ways. Sometimes a car will sky rocket past it’s estimate and get carried away with the ‘auction room buzz’, selling far higher than the market value, but let’s be honest… people attend classic car auctions to get a bargain. So expect to be slightly down on the ‘agreed value’ your insurance company thinks it’s worth.

For all of the benefits a classic car auction offers, you’ll pay handsomely. Expect to pay an entry fee for the car, as well as a commission on the sale. There’s also a Buyers Premium, so wherever the hammer falls, it’s the auction house that wins!

As a rough example, the last car we sent to auction came out as follows:

Auctioneers Estimate – £7000 to £9000
Top bid on the day – £6,250 (It was rusty…)
Price with Buyers Premium – £6,750
Entry Fee + Commission – £90 + (6% + VAT) = £450 = Total Cost of £540
Total Returned after fees – £5,710

Not sure if a classic car auction is for you? Contact us.

Want to read more about our experience with auctions? Like the time we bought a classic car the media had been hyping and due to a disastrous series of events got a check from Brightwells Auctioneers for just £60? Or the time we invested £4,000 in a Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG to end up with just £1,500? Or the time we got carried away, lost track of who has bought what and had to move 9 cars in an evening? Or the time we bought an Audi S4? Click here.

Still keen to sell your car at an auction? Contact us for help and we can guide you through it, and to choose an auction house.

Selling your car in a specialist online auction – Pros and Cons

Many auction houses have now adopted the eBay formula, operating online auctions. There are a number of operations that do this, and it does seem to be growing in popularity. You’ll pay a fee to list the car, but the best auctions will send a photographer to shoot the car, and assign a proper writer to describe it.

The auction will have a defined end date and start date, but you’ll coordinate viewings from your house, just like a private sale. Think of it like a private sale, but with no fixed price, and a whole lot more marketing.

With a physical auction you can wash your hands of the car as soon as you drop it off, but with an online auction like this, you risk having the buyer come back to you if there’s issues with the car. You’ll be doing the handover and the auction house still take the fees.

In terms of costs, expect to pay around 5% depending on the auction house. We know of a few, and more are popping up all the time. Want to discuss selling your car this way? Get in touch.

Pros – Reach a wider audience quickly, cheaper than a physical auction, likely to find a buyer if one exists, take advantage of large marketing reach of auction house
Cons – No seller protection, you’ll still be hosting the sale at home

Selling your car on consignment with a dealer – Pros and Cons

Pros – Professional marketing, achieve a good price, some dealers offer warranties
Cons – Can be expensive, no guarantee it’ll sell, car stays with the dealer (which is both a pro and a con – what if the dealer goes bump?)

As you browse through the pages of classic car magazines, you’ll see a huge range of classic car dealers offering cars for sale. Did you know that many of these aren’t owned by the dealers themselves? Instead these cars are sold on consignment, owned by a customer and sold on their behalf by the dealer.

This is a good way to sell a car if it’s valuable, but the fees can be hefty. A good dealer can charge anything from 5% up to 25%, depending on the car and the price. For some people, this is still a good solution. It means all you have to do is get the car to the dealer, and they’ll take care of everything – right up until the point you get a cheque (or more likely bank transfer). A good dealer should be able to put together a stellar car description, a professional set of photos and some superb marketing for your car, but a bad dealer will do none of the above. There are good ones and bad ones out there, so choose carefully.

Still keen to sell your car on consignment? Contact us, we know a few people who can help.

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