1 June 2005

How Do You Sell a Collector Car?

So you’ve decided to sell your collector car. Hopefully it’s because you need room in the garage for a new one, but for whatever reason, you’ll need to make sure you get what your car is worth and that the process is hassle-free for all involved.

About 25 percent of the almost 10,000 enthusiasts who participated in the 2004 Hagerty Network Hobby Survey have sold a car in the last five years. Here’s how they chose to do it:

  1. Local Contact or Friend – 32 percent
  2. Online – 31 percent
  3. Print Classified – 19.7 percent
  4. Specialty Car Dealer – 5.9 percent
  5. Swap Meet – 5.7 percent
  6. Club Publication – 3.2 percent
  7. Live Auction – 2.7 percent
  8. Used-Car Dealer – .8 percent

No matter where you decide to sell your car, there are a few simple things you can do to make your car more appealing to potential buyers.

  1. Know what your car is worth. Either hire a professional appraiser or research what similar cars are selling for. Determine your bottom line and resolve to stick to it.
  2. Don’t hide anything. Know your vehicle’s history, and disclose it in all advertising and conversations with potential buyers. This includes all the good things like awards won or restoration specifics, and not so good things like accidents or mechanical problems. It’s wise to have all of your paperwork, including your title, maintenance records, before and after restoration photos, owner’s manual, etc. in a folder. Let any interested party leaf through it. This will help prove your honesty. Plus, in the buyer’s mind, if you’ve taken good care of the car’s paperwork, you’ve probably taken good care of the car too.
  3. Clean the heck out of it. A clean car will obviously look better than a dirty one. Scrub the inside, outside and trunk, and degrease the engine. A clean car indicates a car that’s been taken care of. Consider hiring a professional detailing service. It may cost a hundred dollars or more, but that might be a small price to pay if your car’s sparkling appearance fetches a higher sales price.
  4. Think like an advertising executive. Craft your ad so that it’ll appeal to the lifestyle of the buyers you want to attract. Be honest and use power phrases like “super clean, fully restored, completely babied, loved more than my spouse,” etc. Realize that a picture is worth a thousand words. Run a photo or two with your ad if possible. Clean your car and park it in front of an appealing backdrop. Take photos of the car from all sides and include interior and engine shots.
  5. Be accessible to potential buyers. Return all e-mail inquiries and messages. Take the time to answer questions, and offer all you know about the car. Also put the hours you’re available to take calls in the ad.
  6. If you plan on parking your car with a “For Sale” sign on it, make sure the area is safe and never leave it out overnight.
  7. If you’re enlisting the help of a professional to aid in selling your car, make sure to get the terms in writing, including how and where they plan to advertise and market your car, and what percentage of the sales price will be retained for their services.
  8. Beware of scams. Never give anyone a copy of the title or registration without blocking out your address and the title number. This will deter someone from using the information to secure a duplicate title. Also beware of check fraud rings. Some target those selling vehicles online, offering to pay full asking price without asking many questions about the vehicle. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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