For those of you who may not know, not only do I write about collector vehicles, but I am also a collector myself. Just like many of you, I spend way too much time browsing the for-sale ads of ClassicCars.com looking for that next must-have vehicle. One thing I notice while on these collector vehicle treasure hunts is that the great majority of these ads — including on our site — have issues. As a result, I feel it would be useful to write a guide on the necessary elements in creating a great ad to sell your car.
Know Your Car
I cannot tell you how many ads I see that have cars with the incorrect year, make, model or sub-model. If you have a 1973 Chevrolet Camaro Z28, then title and post it as “1973 Chevrolet Camaro Z28.” Check to be sure that the vehicle is a 1973 and confirm it is really a Z28. Also be sure to check your spelling when you list this information. On the same token, if you have a 1973 Camaro that is not a Z28, do not title and post it as a Z28. Doing so will just frustrate prospective buyers and make it appear that you are either trying to sell your car as something it is not, or alternately they will dismiss your listing because they do not think you know anything about cars. Be sure that information in the title for the ad is spelled correctly.
Thoroughly Describe Your Car
This part will take some time and possibly a little research on your part. Surprisingly, this is the most underutilized part of most listings. I see hundreds of listings each week with little or no information in the description. This is crazy to me as this is THE place where you can really discuss your car with a prospective buyer. Start by answering all of these questions:
- Is your car a matching numbers example and if so, is this documented?
- Do you know the ownership history of your car?
- What have you had done to the vehicle since you have owned it?
- Are the paint and interior in the original colors? (If it is an original color, be sure to try to use the factory name for it.)
- Is it the original paint and interior from new?
- What is the material of the interior? (If it is vinyl, do not say it is leather.)
- What options was your car delivered with when new, and are they still in place?
- Do all the options function properly and, if not, which ones do and which ones do not?
- If the A/C does not function, do not say “it just needs a recharge” unless you are sure this is the case and you can document it.
- Has the radio been swapped with a modern one? Do you still have the original radio?
- If the wheels have been replaced with aftermarket items, do you still have the originals?
- Do you have a Marti Report, SAAC report, British Heritage Motoring Trust Certificate, Massini report, Ferrari Classiche report, Porsche Classic Technical Certificate or similar pedigree certification?
- Has the car been restored and, if so, by whom?
- Do you have a service history for the car?
- Have you had a recent pre-purchase inspection done and, if so, when was it done and by whom?
- Does your car have an interesting ownership history?
- Has the vehicle won any shows, especially marque-specific events or Concours shows, and what year did it win these events?
- Has your vehicle been featured in a magazine?
- Are you the original or second owner of your car?
- Does the vehicle come with its original manuals, toolkit, etc.?
- Is there any rust? (If you indicate no rust, that means absolutely no rust whatsoever.)
- Does the car have interesting modifications, and what are they?
Answering all these questions will help interested parties know what they are buying. Be sure to let people know what driving the car is like. Tell people seeing the ad why you love the car, which can answer the question of why they want it. Be sure to add your contact information and then double-check that it is correct.
In addition, tell the prospective buyer about yourself. Are you selling a Porsche and you have been a member of the PCA for 20 years? Are you an expert in the make and model of car you are selling? Are you a long-time owner of this car or others like it? This information makes a difference to buyers as it says something about you. People are buying not just the car, but in a way they are buying you as well. Your place and reputation in the car hobby matters, and can add to the car-vetting process.
Finally, before you post the ad, check your description for spelling. Do not forget to check the title of the listing as well.
Take Too Many Pictures
On ClassicCars.com, you are allowed to post 100 photos of the vehicle you wish to sell. Be sure to use as many as necessary to properly show prospective buyers the quality of the vehicle. But before you even begin, do yourself and your car a favor and, at minimum, get your car washed. If financially possible, have it completely detailed, including the engine compartment. Make sure to remove any personal items that are not of a part of the car, which may include aftermarket seat covers, air fresheners or even the keys in the ignition.
After the vehicle is completely clean, be sure to take the pictures under good light — this is VERY important, and your results will vary depending on how good of a photographic eye you have, among other factors. Don’t take pictures inside the garage, yet don’t just wheel it out to the driveway and take snapshots. For the vehicle to look its best, avoid shooting at noon under bright sunlight (glare and shadows can be problematic), instead shooting early or later in the day, if not on an overcast day. Also avoid distracting backgrounds so your car does not compete with anything in the area. If you do not have a decent camera or newer smartphone, ask a friend who does to help. Does the car have visible flaws? Be sure to document these as prospective buyers will be happier and more likely to consider your vehicle. You can also read our guide on how to take the best photos of your car.
Here is a shot list of pictures you should take:
Exterior: Take pictures of the car from the front, rear, side-view from both sides, ¾ front and rear view from both sides, photos of all four wheels and tires, close-up pics of all trim and emblems, grille and bumpers, door handles and such. When taking the pictures of the body, experiment and find the angles that look the best. If you cannot figure that out, look at the photos in period ads of your car to get an idea. Horizontal pictures will show better in the ad than vertical ones.
Interior: Take photos of the entire interior including wide shots of the front and rear seats, pictures of the dash, gauges, controls and carpet. Take close-ups of any interior flaws.
Engine compartment: Perhaps nothing is more of a turn-off than a dirty engine compartment. Take a picture from the front, left and right sides. While doing this, if you can easily take close-ups of the engine number, do so as this will help if it is truly a numbers-matching car.
Trunk: Since you washed the car (yes?), the trunk should also be clean and not filled with your stuff. Take a picture showing the spare and toolkit if so equipped. If the trunk carpet is easily removed, take it out along with the spare for more pictures. The condition of the trunk floor is a huge selling point so images of this are always recommended.
Documentation: If you have service records, authenticity reports and such, be sure to photograph these along with any owner’s manuals.
Accurately Price Your Car
After the above process, you now should have an excellent idea as to what condition your car is in. Take that knowledge and use online tools such as the Hagerty price guide, Kelley Early Model Guide and Classic.com as guides to determine the market value of your vehicle. If your specific car is worth $45,000 according to Hagerty and other price guides, based on the options and condition of the car, do not list it for $65,000 — be reasonable, as it will be difficult to sell if you price it too high. Even if your best friend, who fancies himself as an expert, thinks it is worth much more than what your research decides, follow your gut or get an appraisal done by a certified collector car appraiser, and then decide what it is worth. Sometimes vehicles are worth more than what price guides suggest as well.
Post Your Ad
This is the easiest part, but you might want to have an enthusiast friend look at the end result before you post it, as a second pair of eyes never hurts with proofreading, never mind that he or she may notice information that you forgot or see an error that you have missed.
Be sure to answer inquiries that folks have about your car. If more information is requested, provide answers and, if necessary, take more pictures. Think of it as playing the role of customer service — wouldn’t you want the seller of a car that you are interested in to get back to you? Who knows, you might even make a new friend or two in the process.
While there is no certain way to get your car sold, following the above instructions will help you reach and connect with the greatest number of buyers and give them the information they need to buy your car. Good luck.