Jul 27, 2018
This story ran in an old issue of Classic Motorsports. Want to make sure you’re reading all the latest stories? Subscribe now.
Story by Tim Suddard • Photography by Tim Suddard and David S. Wallens • Illustrations by Sarah Young
It seems to be easier than ever to sell your stuff, thanks to a plethora of options that make the yard signs and local classified ads of old look positively primitive.
Today’s venues for turning a classic car into cash–from traditional auction houses to aggregate sites like Bring a Trailer, Barn Finds and Search Tempest–allow sellers to get their vehicles in front of more people than ever before. However, they can also cut down the amount of time people have to exhibit and ponder these purchases. This means it’s easy to make mistakes. And these mistakes are costing people money.
The problems can be found on both sides of the sale. Sellers offer weak descriptions and even weaker photos; buyers make snap decisions, sometimes late at night or after a few drinks. Misinformation is bandied about.
In the end, these snafus almost always cost someone: Sellers aren’t always getting a fair price, while buyers are sometimes paying way too much.
We recently had some experience with these problems when someone offered us a poorly presented 1965 Sunbeam Tiger.
We were on vacation far from home when we heard about this car. In the seller’s defense, he wasn’t really prepared to sell the Tiger; and in our defense, we weren’t out to steal it. However, it was offered for what we saw as half its value. (Once we get into the details of that deal, you’ll better understand why the Tiger was priced the way it was.) So although we already had a Tiger in the fleet, we’re not exactly the kind of folks who pass up a super deal. Of course we bought it.
That transaction offered some great observations on how to–and how not to–sell a classic car. We’ll break them down here.