Driver's Guide

How to Sell a Classic Car that Needs Work

Your classic car is worth even more than you may be thinking. To confirm it, let’s learn here how to sell a classic car that needs work.

how to sell a classic car that needs work

First, you want to get your car well-conditioned to increase the market value. The process of restoring a classic car may be expensive but worth it in the long run, depending on the model and nature of the restoration.

Suppose you have your car ready for sale, you still want to read this piece to find some mistakes you could be making. The objective is to sell your classic car for profit after all. But your profit margin relies on the effort you invest in that beautiful and unique vintage vehicle of yours. If you intend to sell the classic without working on it, you can’t expect decent bids.

How to Sell a Classic Car that Needs Work

  1. Inspecting the Vehicle

If you don’t already have the classic car with you, you have to inspect the available one you have to sell. Nonetheless, if you do not want to work the car, which does not drive, you can sell it to a junkyard without a title.

You must establish whether the car is indeed worth working on, but in this case, it seems your classic car is in a bad condition.

  • What buyers want. When inspecting the car, do not look at it through your lens but the lens of a potential buyer. What you like may not be what a buyer is looking for, and is even better to make the car not so what you prefer, but what the general market needs.
  • Condition of the car. The first turnoff is rust. Look for it carefully on the rocker panels, and along the window seams – front and rear windshields. Check for missing parts too, glass damage, or damaged body panels. You might have it difficult to replace some of the parts since the production of your classic car was discontinued.
  1. Determine the Cost of Repairs

Let’s assume you inspected the classic vehicle fully, and you know it does not work. You want to estimate the cost of repairs. Without a proper estimation, you could be repairing the car at a loss because if the classic car is not so valued, nobody may be willing to buy it at your valuation.

  • Getting a rough quote. You can get a rough quote on the paint job, rebuilding the interior, getting rid of rust, and rebuilding the engine. Inflate your estimated repair cost by 25%, including tax, to cover unexpected costs and overages.
  1. Confirm the Title

If you do not already have a title for your classic car, see how you can get a title for a classic car in your state. If you have a title, that’s great. With or without a title, you need to perform a VIN check on the car. Sometimes, however, a car VIN could have been switched, but it would not matter if the VIN was switched properly with a similar classic car that, perhaps, no longer exists.

  • A stolen car report. If you discover that the classic car has a theft record, you want to report the stolen car to the police. Nevertheless, you can be stubborn and keep it. But you will have to change the VIN, rebuild the classic car that needs work, get a rebuilt title, and wash the title before you sell it.
  1. Rebuilding Your Classic Car

You can sell your classic car that needs work without restoring it. But you are after the profit, except you just want to get rid of it, then you should read our guide about the ways to get rid of an old car.

The real investment is restoring the car.

  • Taking photos. If you want to involve your potential in the rebuilding journey, take photos, and perhaps, videos of the steps you follow to restore the car. You need the receipts for every replacement you make.
  1. Take the Car Apart

If you are not an expert, you do not want to tamper with the classic vehicle. Contact a mechanic. Find out whether the mechanic can work your classic car that needs work because some professionals are exceptional in rebuilding specific car models.

  • Disassembling the classic car. Ensure to remove the parts of the car carefully. Handle them cautiously to sniff avoid breaking any part. It may be expensive to replace vital parts because your classic car production may have been discontinued.
  • Label the parts. Make sure to label the parts you remove, including the fasteners. Take out the transmission and engine from the vehicle alongside the drivetrain.
  • The interiors. In the car interior, remove components such as the headliner, carpet, seats, dashboard, etc.

Is it hard to sell a classic car

  • The Exteriors. Put down the glasses, including side, rear, and front shield glasses. Remove the light assemblies.
  • Inspect the body of the classic car and remove rust. You also want to inspect the undercarriage and frame. You can paint the frame or spray it to get rid of rust. You can wield new panels in rusty areas.
  • You can fill dents with high-quality body filler.
  1. Do the Paint Job

If you are an expert car painter, you can do the painting or have a professional do the job. Most buyers typically look at the paint, and if poorly done, they begin to doubt the general condition of the car. The frame can be sprayed separately to achieve the best finish.

Before the paint job, it is better to fully disassemble the car, including the hood, doors, trunk lid, etc.

  1. Assemble the Various Parts of the Car

  • Rolling chassis. Install the suspension, rear differential, wheel knuckles, and brakes in your classic car that won’t run. Install new tires and rims (if necessary).
  • Assemble the car engine. If you want to set up the original powertrain, you may have to fully disassemble and rebuild the engine to replace the gasket and seals for engine optimization and leak prevention. You can also paint the car engine and transmission to prevent rust.
  • Assemble the car body onto the rolling chassis. Suppose you disassembled the body of the car. Assemble it back onto the rolling chassis, install the passenger compartment, trunk lid, doors, and hood.
  • Assemble the interior. Install the headliner, door panels reupholster, and seats. You can replace the dash pad if the old one is worn or faded. The nicer your interior, the more appealing your classic car restoration, and increases the sales price. You might be interested in some less expensive cars with nice interiors.
  1. Checking and Connecting the Electrical Systems

Connect the wiring to the appropriate systems, including lighting, ignition, audio, etc. When you route wiring, install grommets to prevent chafed wires and short circuits.

  1. Final Touches and Test the Car

  • When you complete the restoration of your classic car for sale, you may install lights, bumpers, exhaust system, chrome trim and door handles. Ensure to polish the original chrome trim you removed earlier. You can replace it if it is dented or pitted.
  • Test whether the car is fully operational. Do not drive it on roadways if it is not registered or you have no valid driver’s license. Listen carefully for strange noise. Male quick maneuvers and pay attention to how the classic car responds. Accelerate the car, check how the suspensions respond, and use the brakes to see if they are working.
  1. Selling Your Classic Car

You want to sell your car for profit. If you have many more for sale, you might be interested in how you can flip vehicles for profit.

The cost of the classic car now depends on the amount of money you invested in the restoration. If you price the car too expensive, some people may lowball you.

  • Appraise the car value. If you are a car expert, you can evaluate the cost of your rebuilt classic car or use professional appraisal services to determine the worth of your car. Consider the total amount of money you spent on the parts and repairs. Secondly, look up other listings of similar cars online. You can also find the current estimated price of the car using any car sales website that you trust.

What is the best way to sale a classic car

  • Determine where to sell the car. You can sell your classic car to a private buyer or dealership. Most dealerships will under-price the car, though. You can also sell your classic car on Craigslist without getting scammed. eBay is another platform to sell your car. Discuss the price with the buyer and have a video or voice call with them to be certain you are dealing with a serious buyer.
  1. Prepare Your Papers

The paperwork needed to sell your classic car that needed work includes a title or pink slip, bill of sale, or any receipt of sale, repair receipts, and restoration photos. Depending on your state, you may have to turn in the license plates. If the classic car does not have a title, we mentioned earlier how you can get a title for it.

  1. Get Paid

Finally, you would have decided on a place to meet with the seller if you are selling it online. Choose a public location, perhaps, near the DMV or bank. Request the buyer’s valid driver’s license and let them test drive the car. You can drive in the car with them. Have a friend with you. Do not accept checks—accept payment in cash only.

Final Thoughts

With this guide, you can now know how to sell a classic car that does not work. The classic car market is quite different, so you may not receive a high volume of calls and inquiries like you would for modern vehicles.

To restore a classic car is fun, but do not take it lightly because it takes lots of work. If you do it as a hobby, it is more fun, and you would only enjoy doing it. If you invest in a classic car to sell for money, it can be frustrating, especially when you do not find a buyer in several weeks or months.

Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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