Top Tips on How to Sell Classic Cars for Top Dollar

If you’re searching for advice on how to sell classic cars then this no-nonsense guide delivers key strategies to help you understand your vehicle’s worth, prepare it for the market, and find the right buyer.

Discarding the fluff, we give you the easy steps you’ll need to do that are essential for a successful sale, so you can confidently and quickly move from classic car owner to seller.

Top Tips on How to Sell Classic Cars for Top Dollar

Key Takeaways

  • Evaluating and understanding the unique factors that affect classic car value, such as rarity and condition, coupled with knowledge of market trends, can help set a realistic and profitable price.
  • Preparing the car thoroughly for sale by cleaning and detailing, and organizing all necessary paperwork including the title, repair records, and history report, can attract serious buyers and streamline the selling process.
  • Choosing the right selling platform, crafting a compelling listing with high-quality photos and descriptions, and being vigilant about scams are essential for getting the best return on your classic car.

Understanding the Classic Car Market

For the uninitiated, classic vehicles are usually between 20 and 40 years old, with some stretching up to 45 years. Now, the value of your beloved classic depends on various factors such as its rarity, condition, and most importantly, how much people want it. Sounds like a normal used car? Well, the principles are similar, but selling a classic car requires a deeper understanding of the market.

To successfully sell a classic car, follow these steps:

  1. Identify your target audience – are they casual enthusiasts or serious collectors?
  2. Familiarize yourself with the market trends, their preferences, and the factors that influence classic car values.
  3. Use this knowledge to navigate the unique world of classic car sales and maximize your profit.

Assessing Your Classic’s Value

Evaluating the value of a classic car is no ordinary task. You can’t just look it up in the Kelley Blue Book as you would a used car. This is where specialized valuation tools step in to make it a lot easier. These tools provide data-driven valuations that consider factors like rarity, condition, and market demand. Reliable tools for classic cars include:

  • Hagerty’s valuation tools
  • National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Price Guide
  • Collector Car Market Review (VMR)

As you determine your classic’s value, consider its rarity, condition, and demand for the specific make and model. A unique vehicle with rarity and desirability can command a higher price. So, it’s worth investing time in researching and understanding these factors to ensure you set an accurate price that reflects your classic car’s worth and attracts the right buyers.

Timing Your Sale

The timing of your sale can significantly influence the outcome, especially in the classic car market. Spring is generally the best time to sell, as more classic cars are up for sale, and they become a bit scarce in other seasons. However, this seasonal pattern doesn’t always hold true, especially if you live in states like Florida, Arizona, or California. These states often host car shows and events that attract classic car enthusiasts all year round.

Economic conditions also play a pivotal role in determining when to sell a classic car. A sluggish economy might make potential buyers hesitant about spending money on a classic car, which can impact both demand and price. So, keep a close eye on the market trends and economic indicators to choose the best time to make your move.

Preparing Your Classic for Sale

Preparing Your Classic for Sale

Ensure your classic is in top-notch condition before listing it for sale. An immaculate car can fetch a higher price and attract more potential buyers. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Give your car a thorough detailing, starting with the interior.
  2. Move on to the exterior, making sure to clean and polish every surface.
  3. Pay attention to the finishing touches, such as shining the tires and cleaning the windows. A well-detailed car not only looks great but can also help you secure a featured listing on various platforms, increasing its visibility.

In addition to a well-maintained exterior, having your paperwork organized is essential. When selling a classic car, you’ll need the following documents:

  • Car’s title
  • Registration
  • Bill of sale
  • Maintenance or repair records
  • Emissions inspection (depending on state)
  • Safety inspection
  • Warranty documents
  • Vehicle history report
  • Report of sale

Having these documents ready can make the selling process smoother and protect you from any legal complications.

Detailing Your Classic Car Makes a Difference Before You Sale

Detailing Makes a Difference

Thoroughly detailing your classic car can enhance its value and attractiveness to potential buyers. In fact, pristine vehicles can fetch 10 to 20 percent more in resale value than those in average condition. Professional detailing techniques, such as starting at the top and working your way down, using softer water and gentler soaps, and using a two-bucket method for washing, can make a significant difference in your car’s appearance.

Detailing is all about getting rid of dirt, grime, and any unpleasant smells that could detract from your car’s appeal. Regular detailing is key to maintaining its appearance and making it more attractive to potential buyers. While professional detailing may come with a cost, usually around $150 for a full exterior detail, it’s a worthy investment that can increase your classic car’s value.

Gathering Essential Paperwork

Much like selling a used car, you need to gather specific paperwork when selling a classic car. The car’s title and a bill of sale are a must-have. If you don’t have a title, don’t panic! The DMV can issue a replacement title, or a Bill of Sale might be all you need to show proof of ownership.

The bill of sale should include the vehicle’s year, make, model, and VIN number, as well as the buyer and seller’s info, and the date and location of the sale. Don’t forget to keep a copy and take the necessary steps to transfer the title to the buyer. To get a vehicle history report, you’ll need to find the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), usually located on the driver’s side of the car.

Preparing these documents in advance can save you time and hassle during the selling process.

Crafting an Irresistible Listing

Creating an engaging listing is an important step in selling your classic car. A well-crafted listing can attract the right buyers and help you get top dollar for your car. Your listing should tell a story, highlighting your car’s unique features, its history, and why it’s special. But how do you write a compelling description that engages readers and convinces them to buy your car?

Start by honestly presenting the good and the bad about your car. Engage your readers with a tone that resonates with them, emphasizing the car’s best selling points, and including all essential details. Tailor your language to your target audience, use the right keywords, and make your listing easy to read on mobile devices. Remember, the aim is to paint a clear picture of your car that gets buyers interested in owning your classic car.

Writing a Compelling Description

An engaging description can set your listing apart. You’ve probably seen those old craigslist ads for cars and trucks that got shared a million times. They were funny and informative. Now I know we can’t all write ads like that but here are some tips to make your car’s description stand out:

  • Focus on the features that matter most to potential buyers
  • Use convincing and interesting language
  • Highlight the options and special qualities that make your car unique
  • Don’t forget to tell your car’s story. Delve into its history, any special events it’s been a part of, and why you appreciate it.

When describing your car’s condition, use the 1-6 Condition Code, a standard in the collector car hobby that helps to convey the state of the vehicle. Highlight signature features like:

  • tailfins
  • chrome accents
  • hood ornaments
  • white wall tires
  • external spare tires

to give your classic car a special charm. Remember, honesty is key. It’s better to skip the technical jargon and use catchy words that connect with potential buyers.

Showcasing Your Classic with Good Photos

Top-notch photos from a good camera can markedly improve your listing and highlight your car’s most appealing features. Photos serve as the first impression for potential buyers, and you’d want to make it count. Include shots of:

  • the outside from various angles
  • the interior to highlight the seats and dashboard
  • shots of the engine
  • close-ups of any special features

Also, pay attention to lighting and shadows when taking pictures to ensure your car looks its best.

The number of photos in your listing can also make a difference. Aim to upload around 12 photos that give potential buyers a good view without overwhelming them. You can take photos from the side facing the sun for a nicely lit shot and from the rear 3/4 angle or rear head-on angle to effectively show off your car’s design and condition.

Good photos can make your exotic car more attractive to buyers and increase its value, especially when showcasing it at a car show with many cars.

Showcasing Your Classic Vehicle with Good Photos

Choosing the Right Platform to Sell Your Classic

Selling your classic car involves not just creating a captivating listing, but also selecting the most suitable platform to connect with potential buyers. There are several options to consider, from auction sites like Bring a Trailer and Hemmings to classifieds like Autotrader and social media platforms like Facebook Marketplace. Each platform has its own pros and cons, and the best fit depends on your specific needs and circumstances.

For instance, auction sites like Bring a Trailer offer the advantage of not requiring sellers to pay upfront, attracting more potential buyers. However, they do charge a listing fee and a buyer’s fee based on the final sale price. On the other hand, classifieds like Facebook Marketplace save you from auction fees and middlemen, although you might have to deal with time wasters and potential scammers. Understanding these differences can help you choose the most suitable platform for selling your classic car.

Auction Sites vs. Classifieds

Both auction sites and classifieds have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Bring A Trailer, for example, can help you potentially earn more money with its true auction format and professional team reviews, but the reserve being met isn’t announced, and the listing duration is longer. On the other hand, classifieds like Facebook Marketplace can save you from paying auction fees and dealing with middlemen, but you might have to deal with time wasters and potential scammers.

Each platform has its unique approaches. Hemmings focuses solely on classic cars, whereas Bring A Trailer lists all types of vehicles, not just classics. Therefore, it’s important to evaluate the pros and cons of each platform and consider your unique needs and circumstances when making your decision.

Featured listings and ad packages can boost your car’s visibility, attracting more potential buyers. Featured listings get your car in front of more people, which can help you sell it faster. If you’re considering Hemmings, they offer listing packages that include auction, make offer, and traditional classified ad options. Autotrader Classic, on the other hand, offers the Basic package with minimal listing customization.

Ad packages can help your classic vehicle get noticed by targeting potential buyers who are actively searching for classic cars online. They can also display your ad on websites that classic car enthusiasts frequent, giving your ad more visibility in search engine results, especially for those looking for a classic car online.

While featured listings typically cost around $99, this investment can help you reach a wider audience and potentially sell your car faster and for a higher asking price.

Negotiating with Potential Buyers

After preparing your car for sale, crafting an enticing listing, and selecting the right platform, you’re ready to interact with potential buyers. Responding to inquiries and offers can be a daunting task, but you can consider working with a consignment company that can handle all the communication and negotiation for you. This not only saves you time but also ensures that you’re dealing with serious buyers who are genuinely interested in purchasing your classic car.

Making potential buyers feel confident about your car’s condition is crucial. Here are some tips to help you sell your car successfully:

  • Be honest and provide a detailed account of the car’s history and current condition.
  • Present the car in the best possible way, both in person and in your advertisements.
  • Keep detailed records of maintenance and repairs.
  • Target the right audience by advertising in the right places.
  • Avoid being overly aggressive in your sales approach.
  • Master the art of negotiation to get the best possible deal.

Remember, selling a car takes time and effort, but with the right approach, you can find the right buyer and get a fair price for your vehicle.

Avoiding Tire Kickers

Sometimes, selling a classic car may draw in tire kickers – those who express interest in your car but aren’t truly intending to buy it. They can waste your time with endless questions, requests for additional pictures, and discussions about prices. To avoid these time-wasters, you can ask a few screening questions to separate the genuinely interested buyers from the tire-kickers.

Screening questions can involve the following:

  • The car’s specifics
  • Ownership details
  • Local parts and service availability
  • The buyer’s intentions or goals in purchasing a classic car

Although it may take some extra time, screening potential buyers can save you from unnecessary hassle and help you find the right buyer for your classic car.

Closing the Deal

Finalizing the deal marks the last step in the selling process. Once you and the buyer have agreed on a price, it’s time to finalize the payment method and delivery arrangements. It’s a good idea to use secure payment methods like bank transfers or certified cashier’s checks to ensure a smooth transaction.

When it comes to delivery options, consider using door-to-door car delivery services. Some carriers might even offer extras like expedited delivery for an added fee. Before you hand over the keys, make sure you have all the necessary paperwork sorted, including a bill of sale and the vehicle’s title. This ensures a successful transfer of ownership and protects you from any legal complications.

Protecting Yourself from Scams

Although selling a classic car can be gratifying, it’s equally crucial to safeguard yourself from potential scams, especially when dealing with used cars. Keep an eye out for red flags like:

  • a lack of proper documentation
  • unusually low mileage
  • sellers claiming to be selling on behalf of a friend
  • reluctance to provide the VIN or allow a pre-purchase inspection.

To ensure a secure transaction, use secure payment methods like online payment platforms with fraud protection services or certified cashier’s checks. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Protecting yourself from scams not only safeguards your investment but also ensures a positive selling experience.

After the Sale: Transfer and Follow-Up

The selling process continues even after you’ve given away the keys. Several steps remain to guarantee a smooth transfer of ownership. First, you’ll need to sign the title and then guide the buyer to get a new title and registration from their state’s DMV.

Following up with the buyer is also an important step. Remind them to transfer the title and registration and help them complete any post-sale tasks. This not only ensures a smooth transition but also helps maintain your reputation as a responsible and trustworthy seller.


In conclusion, selling a classic car for top dollar involves understanding the classic car market, preparing your car for sale, crafting an irresistible listing, choosing the right platform, negotiating with potential buyers, protecting yourself from scams, and ensuring a successful transfer of ownership. With the right knowledge and approach, you can navigate this process confidently and secure the best deal for your beloved classic car.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are classic cars worth anything?

Yes, classic cars can be worth a significant amount depending on factors such as rarity, condition, and popularity, making them a potential valuable investment for automotive enthusiasts.

What is the best month to sell a classic car?

The best month to sell a classic car depends on the type of car. Convertible and sports classic cars may sell better in the spring and summer, while all-wheel drive classic cars generate the most interest in the fall and winter.

Is there money in selling classic cars?

Absolutely, buying, restoring, and then selling classic cars can be a profitable niche within the automotive industry. Just make sure you know what you’re doing, what you’re buying, and have a good idea of how much work you’ll need to put into it to make it easy to sell your classic vehicle.

How do you put value on a classic car?

To determine the value of a classic car, you should consider supply and demand, historical sale prices, and current asking prices, with a majority of classic cars being sold through private sales. Be sure to research and compare prices before making a decision.

What is the best way to sell a classic car?

The best way to sell a classic car is through private sales, which can be easily done by listing the car for sale online on social media marketplaces or in online classified ad communities. Avoid dealers as they may prefer modern ranges, and consider selling through reputable websites, in-person or online auctions, car shows, or classified ads.

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