Tim Suddard Publisher
April 5, 2017 11:54 a.m.

It seems to be easier than ever to sell your stuff, thanks to a plethora of options that make the yard signs and local classified ads of old look positively primitive.

Today’s venues for turning a classic car into cash–from traditional auction houses to aggregate sites like Bring a Trailer, Barn Finds and Search Tempest–allow sellers to get their vehicles in front of more people than ever before. However, they can also cut down the amount of time people have to exhibit and ponder these purchases. This means it’s easy to make mistakes. And these mistakes are costing people money.

The problems can be found on both sides of the sale. Sellers offer weak descriptions and even weaker photos; buyers make snap decisions, sometimes late at night or after a few drinks. Misinformation is bandied about.

In the end, these snafus almost always cost someone: Sellers aren’t always getting a fair price, while buyers are sometimes paying way too much.

We recently had some experience with these problems when someone offered us a poorly presented 1965 Sunbeam Tiger.

We were on vacation far from home when we heard about this car. In the seller’s defense, he wasn’t really prepared to sell the Tiger; and in our defense, we weren’t out to steal it. However, it was offered for what we saw as half its value. (Once we get into the details of that deal, you’ll better understand why the Tiger was priced the way it was.) So although we already had a Tiger in the fleet, we’re not exactly the kind of folks who pass up a super deal. Of course we bought it.

That transaction offered some great observations on how to–and how not to–sell a classic car. We’ll break them down here.

Read the rest of the story

Keith Tanner MegaDork
April 5, 2017 2:06 p.m.

I don't think there's enough emphasis on the quality of the photography if you're looking to sell. Some nicely posed shots of a gleaming car will make a massive difference - especially on classic cars where you're selling a fantasy as much as you're selling metal.

Tim Suddard Publisher
April 6, 2017 6:42 a.m.

Keith, thought I covered that, but you are absolutely correct. People buy with the eye!

Keith Tanner MegaDork
April 6, 2017 8:49 a.m.

You covered it, I just would have put more emphasis on it. When someone wants to list a car on our website, it's the first thing I stress. Good pictures. It's what gets the conversation started.

Rupert Dork
April 8, 2017 10:39 a.m.

I agree with Keith. The part I agree with most is "gleaming car."

Whether it be a one on one sale, auction, whatever, I find the cars that bring the most money are clean! I don't mean they must be "show ready." But the closer to "show ready" they are, often determines their perceived value!

Again I agree with Keith, you're often not selling you car as an appliance. You're selling it as a bucket list dream!

If you can't be bothered to clean out the old rodent or insect nests in the trunk, make sure the tires are up, etc. Or you don't bother to at least remove the stack of things piled atop the car before the shopper arrives, don't expect anyone to believe you have taken any care at all of the parts they can't readily see!!

lilliematney New Reader
April 9, 2017 8:38 a.m.

It's right that look matters a lot. It attracts the buyers to come and have talk about the car instead of passing by..

NOHOME PowerDork
April 11, 2017 12:25 p.m.

Guess I had better get moving, I have an MGB GT to move along to a new owner.

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