How To Sell A Classic Car That Needs Work

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You need some quick cash, and there is an older classic that isn’t finished sitting in your garage. How do you sell a classic car that needs some work?

The truth is that not every classic car restoration project is finished. Some projects end up collecting dust halfway through the restoration. Sometimes, owners fail to anticipate all the costs involved in bringing an older vehicle to life. Unforeseen parts costs, bodywork, paint, and even engine overhauls that need loving attention can burn through a wallet in no time. And while you had hoped that the restoration would be easy, it often isn’t. Perhaps you’ve run into a bit more than you bargained for (that can happen in a big project), and you have run out of funds. With bills mounting up, you’ve decided to unload the hunk of rusted metal sitting in your garage. What’s the best way to sell a classic car or truck that still needs some tender loving care?

The best way to sell an unfinished classic car is to know what is wrong with it so that you can be truthful to any potential buyer. In addition, consider investing a little bit into the car before selling it. Lower your expectations as the chances are these things will affect the value.

If you decide to sell, you want to get as much money as possible. While you may not be able to recoup every dollar spent, you should hope to recoup some of the hard-earned h from your investment. Are there certain things you can do to enhance the car's value? Should you bother cleaning it up or just letting it go? Can you sell a piece of rusted metal without a title?

As you can see, there are lots of questions, and they deserve answers. So, keep reading, and we will try to answer some more pressing questions for you.

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How Do You Sell A Classic Car That Needs Work?

Believe it or not, there are some strategies that you can employ to make sure you are getting top dollar for your restorable classic car.

Evaluate the Condition of the Car

The first thing that any seller needs to do is perform a thorough inspection of the vehicle to determine exactly what needs to be done on the car. More than likely, a seller will do their inspection, but it helps if you can intelligently answer any questions that they might have.

Here are some questions you need to be able to answer.

  • Does the car have a clean title, and is it in your possession?
  • Does the car run, or will the engine need to be rebuilt?
  • What rust is on the car - can it be fixed, or will entire quarter panels need replacing?
  • Is the interior original showing signs of wear, rips, or tears?
  • Are all the parts matching OEM numbers, or are there after-market parts on the car?
  • Have you made any mistakes that the new owner will need to correct?
  • When was the last time the car was on the road, if ever?
  • Is there original fuel in the gas tank, and will the fuel tank need replacing?

Rust is the first thing that potential owners will see. Sometimes, the right car doesn’t matter to a professional restorer because they know they can swap body parts with another that they own, or the value of this car is so much that even a rusted frame is valuable. Still, for an individual restoration project, you want to get the car cleaned up and consider having some rust removed before putting the beauty on the market.

Set Your Price and Decide How Firm It is

Every project has its price, and you should have a good idea of the current market for classic cars like yours in similar condition. You need to decide how attached to the price you want and should try to recover some of the parts and labor costs you have invested. If you have already put $10k into the car, set your price slightly above the current value so you have some room to work your way down to a number you and the seller can live with. This strategy may mean you will need to find out how much it will cost for the seller to repair the car, fix the engine, redo the paint job, etc. - before you start negotiating.

Secure the Title

You can check with your state and ensure that the car has an open title that can be transferred to a new owner. A clean title or pink slip can go a long way to motivate a buyer sitting on the fence about your car. If you have the title in your possession, that is even better and can make the selling transaction smooth and simple.

A salvage or branded title is a hassle, particularly if the new owner decides to sell the car down the road. (Many states prohibit salvage vehicles from being driven on the roads, and these vehicles can only be used for parts). For example, Oklahoma does not allow a car with a salvage title to be insured, while other states have procedures for changing a title to rebuilt if the repairs have been enough to make it safe. For more information, you should check with your state's Division of Motor Vehicles, the

Should you discover that the VIN has been switched or a check of the VIN shows that the car has been stolen, you should report this information to the police immediately. They can advise you on what procedures you need to take to try and clear the title.

Expand Your Market by Selling Online

In this new digital age, an excellent alternative to word of mouth is to take pictures and post them online. At the same time, this sales tactic opens the world to your vehicle and may bring you a tsunami wave of offers. The more eyes are on your rust project, the better bid you are likely to receive, and this is the fastest way to secure as good a price as possible.

You need to take your time with the photos to ensure they are high quality. Don’t just walk outside and snap a couple of shots with your cellphone. If the car runs, stage it somewhere that enhances the natural beauty of the car. The last thing you want to do is have some buyer see how cluttered your garage is or be turned off because you have last year's honey-do project sitting on top of the hood. Clean the car, use a tripod to steady the image, and take your time.

Imagine that you are in charge of a dealership's Internet department, and you are responsible for their webpage. High-quality photos and detailed descriptions can go a long way toward motivating someone to call you for more information.

Some dealerships will take classic cars on consignments, but the problem is that you do not always have control of the price or the sales negotiations. With so many classic car websites and forums, it is easy to do the work yourself if you have the time.