How to sell your classic car through an online auction
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for a few years, you know that online auctions have become a great way to sell a car, sometimes for a lot of money.
Before deciding that an online auction is the best way to sell your car, let’s first talk about a few reasons why you might want to choose one of these as the place to sell your vintage car.
One of the advantages of online auctions is that they can reach thousands or even millions of potential buyers. Part of the reason is that an online auction is a timed event, with a definitive end time for the sale.
This is different from a standard online advertisement, which will offer your car for sale until it is sold. The final end time for online auctions generates excitement and a sense of urgency among potential buyers.
The bidding process itself can also add a competitive element to the act of buying your car and can drive up the price as two or more bidders try to outdo each other. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, good things tend to happen for the seller.
Another advantage of an online connection auction is that if your car is either without reserve or with a reasonable reserve, it is very likely that it will sell and within a specified time. This allows the seller to avoid months of phone calls from potential buyers, showing the car over and over again, and all the other aggravations that can arise when trying to sell the car privately.
The final benefit of auctioning the car is that after the car is gone, it is gone. You don’t need to answer the buyer’s after-sales questions if you don’t want to, and as soon as they leave your garage, you can be free from any liability for that car.
However, an online auction does not offer the same level of anonymity for the seller as a live auction, but it is certainly less complicated than simply selling privately.
So after reading all this, you have decided to sell your car at an online auction, what are the steps to follow to make the auction as successful as possible?
The first thing you should do, before you even contact the online auction company, is to do a little research online and make an informed decision about the value of your vintage car.
To be realistic.
You should be as objective as possible in assessing the condition of your car, and then use an assessment tool, such as the one provided on the Hagerty website, to establish your asking price. We all love our vintage cars, but this is a time when you have to be a little more scientific.
For example, a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette with the L88 engine option is worth considerably more than a Chevrolet equipped with an L46 engine. In addition, as a rule, cars with automatic transmission are worth less than those with manual transmission. Ditto for air-conditioned cars, which can add 10% to the value of some cars.
If your car still has its original and factory installed engine and transmission, it adds value. Otherwise, you’ll probably have to deduct up to 30 percent of what you thought it was worth.
A final note about determining the value of your car is that you shouldn’t take “how much you have in the car” and strive for that number. Just because you spent $ 70,000 to restore a Triumph TR6 doesn’t mean it’s worth $ 70,000. I’m pretty sure no TR6 road car is worth that much money. What you spent to get it there might be a sales tool, but not a tool used to find the price you want. The market sets the price, not your personal food costs.
Then present your car at the online auction, inform the site of the value of the car and its condition. The auction company will probably want to haggle over the reserve (the minimum amount you will accept for the car), but if you’ve done your homework you should be very close to the goal.
Obviously, we like Automatic hunter, the online auction platform driven by ClassicCars.com.
Also make sure that you like the people you are dealing with. Learn about customer service before and after the sale, the types of marketing you can expect to receive from your car, and details about registration fees and commissions. All of these things can be negotiated, and you should ask questions about each phase and get something in writing about these issues.
Now that you’ve chosen the online auction company, your next step is to advertise. This requires a well-written and extremely complete description of your vintage vehicle. This should include anything interesting about the history of your car, as well as its restoration and maintenance history, awards won, color schemes and if these are what the car originally was, all options, all modifications. In other words, literally everything.
You must provide all of this information to the auction company and, unless you are a professional writer, give them permission to write the description. Once they have finished it, be sure to proofread what has been written and ask for any necessary changes or additions.
An additional tip is that if your car is in a factory color, be sure to name the exact color the factory called it. This simple addition will attract the experts to this car and add a level of credibility to your car list.
Then take lots of high quality photos of your car. I’m saying to make this look like you’re not the best photographer you should consider hiring a photographer who is. In most cases, the auction company will have a contact photographer in your area who specializes in this area. This service will cost you something, but the photographs in your listing are one of the most important elements and the most important way to attract buyers.
When your ad is complete and you receive the date and time it was uploaded, the exciting, stressful, and time-consuming part of the process begins. As the offers come in you get more and more excited and as the comments and questions come in your mood varies from happy to angry and everything in between.
You need to be sure to monitor your ad often, think hourly and respond quickly to questions and comments. If you don’t respond to questions and comments, potential bidders will tend to get suspicious and you won’t get bids on your car. If a comment is negative, provide a truthful response, or if it says “Camaros are all ugly,” simply ignore it. People interested in your car will ignore nonsensical messages and often fight for you. It’s best not to engage with a headstrong jerk who just hates your brand, model, or year.
If you are unsure whether you need to answer a question, just take a look at some of the online auction listings and see what happens when the sellers don’t respond. You need to make sure you do this for the duration of the auction.
Towards the end of your auction, be aware that it is common to get a call from the auction company if your car is near the reserve, asking you to lift the reserve. This is a good idea 99% of the time, as it lets buyers know that the car will be sold to the highest bidder and prompts them to click the Bid Now button. Also, it’s good to remember that in every automotive transaction, the best sellers are the ones in which each party has been willing to give a little.
Also, removing the reserve can open a floodgate for bidders, and your car may well sell for more than you might expect.
Hope if you follow these steps you will be happy at the end of the sale. Keep in mind that the process can be time consuming, but it can also be very exciting, and if you walk into the auction with a realistic idea of how much your car is worth and follow all of these steps, you will probably get a happy result – and have fun too.