Selling Your Classic

We often focus in the directory on tips for buying a classic car, forgetting of course that at some point you are likely to be selling that same car.  Unlike the modern car world, selling is a delicate area which needs consideration to make sure you get a good price and your car goes to a good new home! No matter how close to your heart you hold your classic, many owners only have both the time and space for a finite number of classics, and if a new project is beckoning, it may be time to sell an existing car to a new owner with more time to care for it.  Sometimes classics are sold because the restoration has become too much too handle, or purely for financial reasons; but for most of this sale is like to be rather emotional, particularly if you have done much of the back breaking and intricate restoration work yourself. 


Like any collectable, values can fluctuate wildly based on scarcity, popularity, ease of maintenance and more.  Online research will give a practical idea of a rough asking price for similar age and condition models, as are magazines and dealerships.  Do realise that asking price and actual sale price are often quite different; rather like house prices, in order to allow for some negotiation.  It is worth calling in a valuations expert to give you an idea of what the car is worth.  Be prepared that if you have self restored, the final valuation may not measure up to your expectations; particularly if you have spent considerable time and money in the restoration process.


Like any sale, you will need to put some preparation into the car before you start seeing prospective buyers to ensure it is looking and running at it’s best, thus getting you the best possible value.  Hopefully; it will already be in good condition, but if you are selling an unfinished project, or indeed one which was finished some time ago, then making sure the car looks at its best will get you better offers and mean those who look will be more likely to buy. 
A good clean and polish will help whatever the car’s condition, and tidying up the interior and giving the trim a go over is also a good start.  Be thorough, and don’t forget areas like wheel arches and mud flaps, as these will be a good indication to your buyers as to the condition you have kept the car in.  Any car is probably going to be more sale worthy with a long MOT, and an oil change etc is also a good idea to give potential purchasers more value for their money.  Don’t forget to make sure all your paperwork is in order

How to sell

You may trade the car in, commission a dealer to sell it for you, or you may prefer to offer it for a private sale.  There is also the option of auction, but as many who attend these are looking for a real bargain, this may not get you the price you are looking for; and will also be subject to a commission for the auctioneer.  On the other hand, this will offer you the option of having the legwork done for you, and they will likely advertise the car for you, saving you costs on advertising as well. 

If you decide to advertise privately, good photographs are essential.  With digital photography, anyone can take reasonable photo’s, but remember to ensure the car is looking its best, taken in good natural light, with a sensible back drop which gives the right impression.  There are a huge plethora of specialist publications and websites to look through, as well as more general publications.  Charges for advertising vary, so do your research and check the audience and circulation to compare with the rates.

There is also a lot to be said for online auction sites, which can be daunting but definitely worth looking.  There are guidelines to be aware of, and fees may vary; EBay for example vary fees according to starting and final price, so read the small print to check what your sale will cost you.  For a first time seller, it is absolutely worth speaking to a professional dealer or auctioneer, as the costs involved may well far outweigh the hassle of arranging the sale yourself, and will avoid any legal pitfalls.

If you are selling privately, then there will be a question of viewings and negotiation.  Be safe with your home address, but remember that potential buyers may feel more secure seeing the cars natural environment and your home rather than a neutral space.  Be honest about the car’s faults, but emphasise its good points, and remember that like any sales, you don’t have to go into every single tiny details, as this much attention may put the buyer off.  If you have records of any restoration work, servicing and parts purchases, now is a good time to bring them out.  Remember to check the buyers insurance if they want to take the car for a test drive, and of course, go with them!

If you are prepared to negotiate, you will likely get more offers.  Price honestly to get the interest, and decide in advance on your bottom line.  Cash buyers will always try to bargain hard, so make sure that while you are realistic, you keep to your minimum.