Selling a Classic Car: Your Step-by-Step Guide

Buying and owning a classic car can make for an exciting experience. But what if you own a classic car and are ready to sell it? The good news is that while selling a classic car might sound stressful, it really doesn’t have to be.

Before selling a classic car, understand its value

Before selling a classic car, you need to understand how much it’s actually worth. Fortunately, determining how much your classic car is worth isn’t all that difficult. In fact, according to American Collector’s Insurance, there are several collector car value guides and tools that can help you determine the value of your classic car.

Take, for example, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). By using NADA Guides – Classic & Collectible Car Values, you can determine the Low Retail, Average Retail and High Retail values of your classic car based on its year, make, model, trim and included factory options. 

You might also consider having your classic car professionally appraised, reports American Collector’s Insurance. A third-party appraiser will take into consideration a variety of factors when appraising your vehicle, including its mileage and condition, historical market value, and current market trends. 

Records matter when selling a classic car

A mechanic working on a classic car. If you're selling a classic car, you'll need records from your mechanic.
Working on a classic car. | Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

When selling your classic car, odds are that most buyers will ask for the vehicle’s maintenance records. They might even ask for a vehicle history report. To best prepare yourself for these types of questions, get your records together. According to The Detroit News, for many classic cars, sellers will want to know who did repairs, maintenance, and restoration work on the vehicle.

When it comes to classic cars like Ferrari 250s, and Jaguar E-Types, only a small number of mechanics are qualified to do repairs, The Detroit News reports. With this in mind, it’s important to document every time that your classic car is serviced. 

“Even the most minor work can make the difference between a discerning, well-heeled collector buying your car or passing on it,” The Detroit News explains.

Prep your classic car before listing for sale

Before listing your classic car for sale, Hagerty recommends putting in some prep work. If your vehicle needs any minor repairs, consider having them taken care of before listing it for sale. The same goes for cosmetic repairs, Hagerty reports. Additionally, having the car detailed inside and out can also be extremely beneficial when selling a classic car.

Take the time to comb through the interior of your classic car too. Is there any spare change that’s taken residence under the seats? Have you forgotten about any personal items that are tucked away in the glove compartment? Do you have anything stowed away in the trunk that you would hate to part with? 

Once you’ve taken care of all repairs, have cleared out the interior, and had the car detailed, it’s time to take photos. Hagerty reports that these photos should be made readily available to buyers. To get the best photos, Hyman Ltd. recommends shooting either at the beginning or the end of the day. Hyman Ltd. also recomends using a wide angle lens to make the vehicle stand out in photos.

“You need to make sure it’s in top mechanical order, clean it thoroughly and put it someplace highly visible. Of course, you can sell a car without doing these things, but they almost always pay off. The easier you make it for buyers to say yes, the faster the car will sell, and the more money it will command.”

Hagerty

Finding the best places for selling a classic car

A lineup of classic cars at 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Pebble Beach, if you're selling a classic car, you might consider selling it at a car show
2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance | David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Once you’ve researched the value of your car, gathered all relevant records, and have prepped it to sell, it’s time to sell your classic car. But what are the best places for selling a classic vehicle? As it turns out, there are quite a few. Hagerty suggests selling your classic car through a dealer or broker. You might also consider selling it at an auction or car show.

Those aren’t the only places for selling a classic car either. There are also plenty of online outlets for selling classic cars. In fact, according to AutoList, Cars.com and Autotrader are two of the best places to sell a car online. Hemmings also has a comprehensive online database for selling a classic car online. 

Selling a classic car is easier than you think

Selling a classic car doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. In fact, with this step-by-step guide, selling a classic car is a fairly manageable task. Just don’t forget to empty out that glove box before listing your classic car for sale.

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