Specializing in Corvettes and Classics

Articles - January 2012

 For Articles in the Archive, click the title below:
Corvette Madness
Shill Bidding
Is Your eBay Expert and eBay Idiot?
To Restore or Not to Restore, That is The Question

Where You Sell Your Classic Matters
Matching the sales venue to the car matters as much as advertising. 

Getting top dollar for the classic you’re selling is the universal goal of every seller, but getting a car for the lowest price possible is the goal of every buyer, so how can the seller maximize their return? Beyond setting a reasonable price, getting the car detailed and answering questions there’s one element that gets missed among a lot of sellers and that’s selling at the right place. Some cars bring higher dollars on eBay, others at live auctions. Why is that? Some cars do extremely well at some consignment dealers and the same car falters at another one. How come that happens? The ability to answer these questions in depth can mean thousands to you on a particular car and although there are no absolutes here are some tips on different types of cars and the preferred places to sell them.

Say you own a show quality car you just don’t see every day. In my case I’ve seen two recently, a 1971 Chevelle 454 SS convertible and a 1958 Chevrolet Brookwood station wagon. You see a lot of 1971 Chevelle coupes, but not many convertibles and when you do see a convertible it’s usually a Malibu or a Chevelle SS clone, not the real deal LS5, cowl induction, 454, numbers matching, power top, frame off restored, all the bells spotless example. The same goes for the 1958 Brookwood we have in inventory now; you see a lot of Chevy wagons from the era, but few 1958 models because that body style was only a one year wonder and even fewer wagons someone spent almost $40,000 restoring, knowing full well they were going to sell it someday for far less.

Cars you don’t see everyday that are exceptional need to be sold at a live auction with some money in the crowd, not on eBay or through the classifieds. Of course for a good car I think you’ll always get your money if your price is reasonable and you’ll wait long though, but with cars like this you just cannot beat the speed, ease of selling and dollars of a live auction. People need to see how exceptional your car is firsthand, they need to look underneath, pop the hood and check the gaps up close, maybe start the car and they can't do any of that on the web. We sold the Chevelle in 2006 at the McCormick’s auction in Palm Springs. On eBay the Chevelle would have been just another nice looking convertible no matter how questions I answered, pictures I posted, or how many fears I laid to rest. No one was going to really believe that car was as exceptional down to the last detail as it was unless they saw it. A consignment dealer seems like a good idea, but then again someone willing to meet your price still needs to see the car and odds are they aren’t walking into that particular showroom in that city anytime soon. You might get lucky, some buyer that’s always wanted a car just like that might know the dealer enough to trust his word and buy the car sight unseen, but again if that happens you’re lucky. In this case taking the car to the money was the way to go.  

We wanted at least $55,000 for this Chevelle and the bottom line is few will fork over that kind of scratch for a car that looks just like the one they saw on eBay for $25,000. Still think maybe consigning this type of “just don’t see one everyday” car works? Let me put one last nail in that coffin. Our customer tried to sell the Chevelle for $48,000 through a very nice, reputable and well known consignment dealer and it sat for over 8 months. We detailed it, fixed some minor things (less than $100 was spent) and sold it for $63,000 at a live auction. With auction commissions figured in that means the buyer paid $66,150 and I netted $59,850 to my seller because I knew where to sell the same exact car that languished in a dealer showroom for almost a year.    

On exceptional cars you don’t see every day that’s just how the ball bounces…But what about exceptional cars you do see a lot? What about 1968 Corvettes or 1968 Mustang fastbacks? You can find lots of show quality examples all day long on the web can’t you? Are they different? Yep, they are.

The difference with a more mainstream example is you have more options. You can take the car to a live auction for the same reasons stated earlier or you can do very well with the right consignment dealer. Please keep in mind we’re talking about exceptional cars, so make sure you go to an exceptional consignment dealer, and if you can get an exceptional dealer that specializes in you’re type of car so much the better.

If I were to sell a vintage Corvette convertible I’d consider a live auction in a warm climate or a well run live auction or consign it with a dealer that deals in Corvettes and only Corvettes, lots and lots of Corvettes and he knows them backwards, forwards and sideways.

So what if it’s exceptional, easy enough to find, but not something like a Vette which is a car with several good dealers specializing in Corvettes across the country? Or what if you have a phenomenal 1968 Mustang fastback but there’s no Mustang dealer close enough for comfort?  

Those cars have options too. You still have the live auction route and as far as consignment dealers just use one that has only exceptional cars like yours on the showroom floor. There are a lot of classic car dealers out there, but when you find one that carries only cars in number 2 condition or better that’s the place to sell your car that’s a 2 or better. If you send that car to a dealer that carries some number 3, 4 or even 5 cars along with their number 2 and number 1 cars your sale will probably take a lot longer and odds are you’ll have to settle for less cash in the end.

It’s simple really; the exceptional car surrounded by other exceptional cars placed at the exceptional dealer will attract people prepared to spend exceptional money. If you see a number 1 car surrounded by junk in the showroom odds are a lot of people looking at the car don’t have the wallet to make the sale happen.  

I’m sure by now you may think I’m not a huge eBay fan or I’m a bit of a car snob, but in reality nothing could be further from the truth. All of the cars I own (7 as of this writing) are drivers, not trailer queens, and some are just nicer drivers than others. So you’ve got a driver, maybe a nice number 3 or a 2-, maybe even a 4 and you need to sell it. You my friend have just entered eBay country.  

For a lot of reasons stated above this isn’t typically where you go to sell your number 2 or number 1 car, although it can be done. Hold on you say…you’ve seen lots and lot of super high end number 1 cars on eBay…What about those? As for those I advise you to watch and search eBay and see how many of those cars actually punch their reserves and actually sell. A lot of dealers use eBay for the greatest cheap advertising in the world. You take that show quality 1963 Split Window Vette and list it on eBay and you won’t sell the car on eBay, but you’ll get a billion e-mails and phone calls on it during and long after the auction ends and sell it later. There are a lot of in’s and out’s to eBay that I’ll cover in a separate article, but for now we focusing on that driver quality 1967 Camaro in your garage that you actually want to sell.

Middle of the road driver quality cars are hit and miss at a live auction. I’ve seen some great deals in this area, but mostly they were great for the buyers. This past November at the McCormick auction in Palm Springs I saw a pretty nice 1968 Camaro RS go for $18,500 that should have fetched $20,000+ or more all day. The thing is with cars like that is a lot of times the seller doesn’t want to cart it home and the money is “close enough” so they pull the reserve and let the car go.

Selling on eBay is great for cars like this. You get a massive amount of exposure for very little money and you reach an audience that by and large can afford your car. Do a good job selling, lots of pictures, answer questions, keep the price realistic and you should be able to make a deal. Massive exposure for a decent car that just about anyone interested in it can afford.

Another good avenue is the Auto Broker, but get one like us that specializes in vintage cars, knows the online marketplace and has the dealership relationships you'll need. I might just have that one buyer that’s asked me to find a car just like yours, and with a Broker many times you get to keep driving your classic while you sell.  

On top of all of this things like AutoTrader, you newspaper classifieds and other web sites are cheap ways to increase your exposure, but again any good dealer or broker will automatically have your cars on all these web pages simultaneously.

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