By Niamh Smith
As public interest in historic vehicles grows year upon year, you’d think it shouldn’t be too difficult to sell a classic car when the historic vehicle industry generates in excess of £5.5 billion a year for the UK economy.
However, selling a secondhand classic car isn’t always the easiest task. When you’re new to selling on the used car market it may seem like a whole new confusing world and sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start.
What we do know for sure is that there’s a market for every used car; whether it’s a mint-condition Chevrolet Corvette, or a slightly worse for wear but well-loved Morris Minor.
Before you search “How to sell my classic car” into any old forum, we’ve put together a handy little list of tips and tricks on how to sell your car quickly, including the different methods of selling and the benefits of each.
Research How Similar Cars Are Selling
If you’re a novice when it comes to selling second hand classic vehicles, it’s always a good idea to do a bit of market research before listing your car.
If you own a Ford Mustang, for example, you don’t want to waltz down to your local dodgy used car forecourt—you’d be better off selling to a Mustang specialist dealer. Do a little browsing online to see what your car is worth in the condition it is in, and where other sellers are listing their cars to get the best price.
Have Your Classic Appraised Or Valued
In order to give yourself an accurate idea of how much you can expect to get for your car, it is a good idea to have it valued by an expert or fellow classic car enthusiasts.
If you’re a member of a classic car club, other members can offer you a good insight as to how much you could list your car for, and you might learn something new about your car in the process!
They usually have a designated expert who appraises cars—like our own expert Adrian Hewetson, who has his own set of tips and criteria for buying and selling cars—so get in contact with your local or national car club for your make and model. Adrian also warns us of scams and frauds: not everyone is a genuine buyer. As a car seller, the responsibility of finding the right media group to sell your Mercedes Benz or Rolls Royce lies with you.
You might also find a buyer from one of these clubs, or they could put you in contact with a specialist dealer or garage who would be interested in buying your classic car. It’s all about networking!
There are also specific websites, dealers and auction houses who can appraise your car, sometimes for a small fee. They may offer some advice on how to sell your car quickly and give you some insight as to just how sellable it is.
What Is The Best Method For Selling Your Classic Car?
Of course, there are pros and cons to each method of selling your second-hand car in the UK, and you need to decide which method suits you best. There are several routes you can go down, including private sales, auctions or selling to a specialist dealership or garage.
Sell Your Classic Car Privately
Perhaps the most time-consuming method, but financially tends to be the most rewarding. The benefits of going down the private sale route is that you usually can get the market value for your car (or near to it).
Because you control the sale yourself, you can decide what you’re going to get for the car within reason. There is no third party involved, so there’s no to-ing and fro-ing with other parties, and you can gain some selling experience for the future.
If you’re in the market for another classic car to replace the one you’re selling, there could be the option to trade or part exchange your car with another enthusiast if they have something you’re after, and vice versa; selling a car doesn’t always have to be a ‘goodbye’!
As a private seller, you have to choose where you’re going to list your secondhand car; this could be on online auction sites, classified ads in magazines, specialist groups on social media, at classic car shows or online classified car sale websites.
The time-consuming part comes into the process when you have to take photos of your car, have it valeted or do it yourself, write accurate listings, arrange viewings or test drives, and potentially having to deal with the dreaded tyre kickers and time wasters!
If you’re wanting to make some driveway space quickly, private sales may not be the option for you.
Selling To Specialist Dealerships
Selling your car to a specialised dealer, especially if the car has a cult following, is a good way to ensure your car will go to someone who will appreciate and love it for what it is. Dealers have a wide range of contacts and customers who may be interested in your secondhand car, so they are usually willing to have a look at what you are offering them.
When it comes to both modern and vintage cars, specialists are usually interested in cars of all conditions, ages and types- whether it’s a Concours example or a barn find.
As with private selling, there may be an option to trade or part-exchange your car for another one the dealership has for sale (and some even offer finance options towards this). This is a hassle-free and quick way to sell; ideal if you don’t want to deal with time-wasters or need to make space in your garage for an upgrade.
As with every method, there are some cons. Certain dealers may not want cars under a certain condition, because they need to put the work in to get it into a sale-worthy condition, or cars with higher mileage, and so may not offer you as much as you’d like.
Dealers generally want to buy your car at a wholesale price so that they have enough room for profit, so you won’t always get the market value for your car.
Across the country, there are plenty of auction houses specialising in used car sales. Again, auctions are another way to get a quick sale, and relatively hassle-free as the work is mostly done for you.
One issue with auctions is that they can be unpredictable. They can go either way; there can be no one in the auction room who is interested in buying your car and it can go cheap, or, with all the excitement of the auction room, bids can go crazy. Who knows what price your car might go for when the gavel comes down?
Although your car might sell for a high price, you are always subject to auction fees, so this is something to ensure you look into first. There is also the risk of a no-sale, or not meeting the set auction reserve, which may result in more time spent re-entering your car into the auction or negotiating a price with the highest bidder.
Advertise Your Classic Car Clearly
In order for your car to sell quickly, it needs to be advertised well—especially if you’re going down the private sales route.
This includes taking good-quality, clear photos of your car. And you need to show all of your car, including interior, exterior, engine bay and undercarriage, making sure to also show any blemishes or rust spots.
Ensure you have given your car a good detailing prior to any photos or viewings; it needs to be clear from clutter. The last thing potential buyers want to see is your empty crisp packets or takeaway cups! Even if the car isn’t a minter, giving it a decent clean will make it look a million bucks.
|| For Classic Car Owners: If your classic car comes with any spare parts or paperwork such as original sales slips, original manuals, or a vehicle history report, definitely show these too; people need to know the provenance of classic cars to close the deal!
Make sure that your description is honest and clear. This prevents sales from falling through if the car is not as it appears on the listing, and makes life easier for you and the buyer.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to set your price a little higher than you plan to sell it for to allow for a bit of wiggle room; you should always expect a bit of haggling! However, be sure not to price it too high so it doesn’t scare prospective buyers away.
Classic Cars For Sale: We’re Buying!
Do you have a winner in your garage? MCUK and Pilgrim Motorsports (our sibling company) are looking to buy classics in excellent condition. Get in touch with us at [email protected] or call us on + 44 (0) 1273 493 860.
Hopefully, this article will have given you some handy tips that’ll see you flogging your car quickly and fuss-free, depending on the method you choose after reading our advice.
Whether you’re selling because your partner has been nagging you to sell the ‘heap of junk’ on the driveway, or you’re just making room for something even better, we hope that your selling experience goes smoothly, and that you enjoy being part of the millions who join the secondhand car market every year. Good luck with the sale!
Author: Niamh Smith
Muscle Car UK is the UK’s leading specialist Mustang and Muscle Car dealership. We import American muscle cars from the US, restore them here in the UK, and re-home them with our delighted customers.
We also provide service and restoration on any car, classic or otherwise.