Classic Car Sellers Guide

Firstly, selling a classic car is a tricky business. Unless your car is in absolute concourse condition after a nut and bolt restoration, then it will undoubtedly have a few ‘niggles’ that come with cars of let’s say a more mature age. Your challenge is to rectify as many of those things as you can before actually listing the car for sale. The danger is that if you don’t ‘prep’ your car prior to sale then it will not realise its full potential and you will reduce your interested market – this will ultimately cost you money.

So why not follow this simple guide to ensure you get the best possible price for your classic car:

Preparation for Sale
This is a list of jobs that need to be done to the car before you list it for sale.

  • Firstly, get it out of the garage, let it breathe and give it a good wash and vacuum
  • Next take an objective look at the car and pretend you’re a buyer, what would put you off?
  • Make a list and prioritise the jobs, e.g. fixing dents comes before refurbishing wheels
  • Identify the jobs you can do now and order any parts required


Bodywork Preparation
Just before you list the car for sale it should look as shiny and clean as possible – you need to demonstrate to the buyer that it has been well looked after (which of course it has been).

  • Ensure the bodywork is dust free and you have bought some good quality lint free polishing cloths
  • Use a mild abrasive cutting paste (like T-Cut metallic) to take the top layer of film/grime off
  • Take your time and do one panel at a time (do each panel as best as you possibly can and always use a circular motion)
  • After you buff off the T-Cut next apply a good quality wax (like AutoGlym)
  • Buff off the wax with a good quality soft cloth
  • The body should now feel smooth and waxy to the touch and look amazing


Advertising the Classic Car
Next you need to advertise your car – follow these simple rules:

  • Look at similar makes and models and see what price they are being advertised for
  • Set your price based on the condition of your car within this range
  • Advertise in a variety of places, e.g. not only here on Trade Classics but also don’t forget about classic car magazines and other printed publications
  • Write as much as you can in the description about the good points of the car (keep it factual with positive words / phrases)
  • Take some really good sharp photos of the car (inside and out) and add as many as you can to the listings (you can add up to six images here on Trade Classics).


What’s a good example of a classic car for sale advert?

The following is a good example of an Internet advert – you can include more sentiment in online adverts as you are not as restricted in advert space so much. So use it all to tell a story and give the buyer confidence that the car has been well looked after.

Beautiful 1988 Jaguar XJ-S 3.6L
Your chance to own a fantastic example of an appreciating classic car. I’ve owned this Jaguar for 12 years and it’s covered only 63k miles from new. Unblemished body in striking colbot blue and contrasting magnolia interior. Also in perfect mechanical condition and has never let me down in all those years. All usual standard refinements with the addition of cruise control, trip computer, sunroof and twin headlight conversion. Full Jaguar Service History with every stamp and MOT certificate from new. A very good low mileage example with complete history and concourse potential. Sold with full 12mths MOT and 6mths tax. AA/RAC inspection welcome. £6,500ono Tel Adam on 01222 222222 after 6pm N/C

Thing to consider:

  • N/C at the end means ‘no canvassers’ to stop all those unwanted telesales calls
  • Consider ‘ono’ (or near offer) as buyers like to think they can haggle
  • Put your first name in the advert to make it personal
  • Include AA / RAC inspection as it shows you’d welcome any industry expert’s opinion
  • Try to include a landline number too as well as a mobile (builds trust)
  • Make sure you sell the car with as much tax and MOT as possible
  • -Put the best time of day to call you, e.g. call anytime, or call after 6pm


Taking the Call

  • Of course be honest and answer the buyers questions carefully, e.g. don’t say it’s in perfect condition if there are scratches on the bodywork. Tell the buyer everything about the car as holding areas back will usually result in a wasted meeting.
  • Stand your ground and don’t agree to a price reduction over the phone – insist they come to see the car first before talking price
  • Agree a mutual time to see the car and always arrange a daytime viewing


Making the Sale
Okay, so this is what the process has been leading up to – you have to make the most of this viewing:

  • Ensure the car is the best it can possibly look
  • Get all the documents ready to prove the history, i.e. service history, V5 logbook and any receipts
  • If you have a driveway then position it strategically at its best looking angle so the buyer will get the best possible first impression
  • Greet the buyer on arrival and get to know them a little better by making conversation / finding out a bit about them
  • Ask how many examples they’ve seen and why they haven’t bought a car yet
  • Ask them what stood out about your car and what they liked the most (this will help you understand what is important to them and talk about it later in negotiations)
  • Gently point out some of the key things about the car, e.g. if the drivers seat is in great condition then point it out
  • Also point out some of the areas requiring attention, e.g. areas of chrome that may need attention. This is a bit of reverse physiology as by you pointing out some of the defects will help to build trust. Conversely, their response will usually be a positive one, e.g. you say chrome needs attention and they may say that it’s a small thing and they know a person to fix it easily. If you didn’t mention it then they may use it first as a negative area for future remedy.
  • Talk naturally about the car as remember you both have something in common, you love the car make / model. After all you were the buyer of the car originally.
  • Don’t be shy – ask what they think about your car
  • If / when discussions turn to price then stand your ground and always let the buyer talk money first. If it’s a cheeky offer and they say it’s their final price then let them walk away. Don’t be bullied into anything. If they really want the car they will meet you at the right price.


So that’s it – good luck out there and remember to let us know about any interesting experiences, or selling tips that have worked for you.



Emma Jones


This article was written and published by Emma Jones.  Emma works for Trade Classics as an in-house journalist and copywriter and has many years’ experience in the classic car sector.  Why not write a reply on this article below – she’d love to hear your thoughts on her thoughts!Google+