By Adam Purrier
1st February 2024

PRO TIP: Do You Restore a Car For Sale or Sell As Is?

We often get cars submitted to us that are need of some level of work. This can range from simple and cheap items to repair, to vehicles requiring some level of recommissioning after being stood for a long time, through to cars that need full and expensive restorations.

Sadly there’s no exact formula for deciding which route is best when coming to sell – you need to talk to experts (maybe like us). To make a founded head vs heart decision, it first requires a good level of understanding about the car, how popular it is in the current market, and of course a deep understanding of potential sale returns.

As we know, every car is unique and the good news is that we’re on hand to give help and advice. Right now, we’re finding that buyers don’t really want to do too much work to vehicles, i.e. in the main they want to purchase cars that are ready-to-go, requiring little or no work. This was a very different story a few years ago when the market was hotter.

Right now there’s a big appetite for cars requiring full restorations, and buyers are paying good money to them. When you count the cost of purchase, then add in an approximation for the cost of restoration, you’ll usually get to a number that’s over the potential future sale value. In these situations we give sellers the advice to sell as is, e.g. here are three recent examples whereby we gave that advice – 1965 230SL and 1986 Audi Quattro and another 1984 Audi Quattro.

The 230SL was a popular car, with a frenzy of bidding and achieved nearly £40k, providing the seller with an excellent return over their expectations. The bills would rack up quickly when you see the work required on the car; you could soon be in negative equity. It’s a similar story for the 1986 Quattro, this fetched £41k and our estimate on that car was half that value – we were shocked with the sale price, as at the time you could buy excellent condition car for the same money. Lastly the 1984 Quattro is a similar story, it fetched a bit over estimate at £20k. If all three sellers had chosen to repair the cars with a garage / specialist then it’s almost certain each one would have lost money on the sale of the car, however, selling as is provided excellent returns.

Restoring a car for sale versus selling it as is are two distinct approaches with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Car enthusiasts and sellers alike must carefully consider these factors before deciding on the best strategy for their specific situation. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of restoring a car for sale versus selling it in its current condition.

Restoring – The Pros

Higher Resale Value:
A fully restored car typically commands a higher resale value compared to one sold as is. Buyers are often willing to pay a premium for a vehicle that looks and performs like new.

Broader Market Appeal:
A well-restored car appeals to a broader audience, attracting not only enthusiasts but also those seeking a reliable and aesthetically pleasing vehicle for daily use.

Enhanced Performance and Safety:
Restoration allows for the replacement of worn-out parts, improving the car’s performance and safety features. This can be a significant selling point for potential buyers concerned about reliability.

Personal Satisfaction:
For car enthusiasts, the restoration process is a labour of love. The satisfaction derived from bringing a neglected vehicle back to its former glory can be a fulfilling experience.

Restoring – The Cons

Time-Consuming Process:
Restoration projects can be time-consuming, potentially delaying the time it takes to sell the car. This might not be suitable for sellers looking for a quick turnaround, or maybe the market could take a downturn before the car is ready for sale.

High Costs Involved:
Restoring a car can be expensive, especially if rare or discontinued parts are needed. The costs of labour, materials, and unforeseen issues can quickly add up, affecting the overall profitability of the sale. Of course this is reduced if a home / DIY restoration is actioned.

Uncertain Return on Investment:
While a restoration might enhance the car’s value, there’s no guarantee that the seller will recoup all the money invested. The market’s response to the restored vehicle is unpredictable, and the seller might not fetch the desired price. It’s essential to get at least 3 future valuations before you commission any expensive restoration – sadly we hear all too often from sellers unrealistic valuations they’ve had from either dubious sources, individuals that don’t have deep market experience, or even worse, valuations from specialist restorers that have over inflated the value to win or justify the restoration job!

Selling ‘As Is’ – The Pros

Quick Turnaround:
Selling a car as is can provide a faster turnaround, as we saw in our recent examples above, appealing to sellers who need to sell their vehicle promptly without the time and effort of a restoration project.

Lower Upfront Costs:
Unlike restoration, selling a car as is requires minimal upfront investment. This is advantageous for those looking to minimise expenses and maximise profit margins.

Attracts DIY Enthusiasts:
Some buyers prefer to purchase cars in need of repair, as they enjoy the challenge of fixing and customizing vehicles according to their preferences.

Selling ‘As Is’ – The Cons

Limited Market Appeal:
Cars sold as is may have a limited market appeal, primarily attracting buyers who are comfortable with the idea of repairs. This could result in a smaller pool of potential buyers.

Lower Resale Value:
Generally, a car sold in its current condition will fetch a lower resale value compared to a fully restored counterpart. Buyers may be more hesitant to pay a premium for a vehicle with existing issues.

Risk of Negotiation:
Buyers may use the car’s current condition as a negotiating point, seeking a lower price to compensate for potential repairs. This negotiation process can be challenging for sellers.

In Conclusion
Deciding whether to restore a car for sale or sell it as is involves a careful evaluation of personal preferences, financial considerations, and the current market dynamics. While restoration may yield a higher resale value and broader market appeal, it comes with significant time and cost investments. Selling a car as is provides a quicker turnaround and lower upfront costs but may limit the pool of potential buyers and result in a lower resale value. Ultimately, the choice between these two approaches depends on the seller’s priorities and the specific characteristics of the car in question.

Whatever you decide to do, we’re here every step of the way to make sure the experience is hassle free, whilst returning you more money than our competitors – so let us do the hard work for you and don’t forget to check out our reviews too.



Pictures taken at sellers’ locations by talented photographers, Glyn, Paul and Colin.