Shop Talk

Selling Your Classic Car

There may come a time when you look to sell your classic car or perhaps you already have it up on the market.  Immediately you will find that a lot of things aren’t always as clear and simple as they are with newer cars.  Here we give a few ideas on how to protect yourself and get an idea the worth of your vehicle.

When you put your car up for sale you open yourself up as a target for scammers.  Professional scam artists have some very unscrupulous tactics that can but you in a bind very quickly if you aren’t prepared to ask the right questions.  Below are some real life scams that are quite common, learn how to identify them and how to keep yourself from being ripped off.

            One is the “Representative”.  This is the buyer that “represents a client” when you get one of these it’s time to start asking questions.  Many times buyers find themselves getting talked into doing something that puts them at great risk.  Always insure that you’re protected before agreeing to anything, and be especially careful of any international clients or representatives.  Most experts recommend dealing with a buyer only inside your native country.  If you’re unsure about anything don’t hesitate to seek legal advice or aid.  Remember that if someone isn’t willing to wait for you to be comfortable with the sale they probably have a reason.

            If your buyer has no available phone number to contact them by you an alarm should go off.  People who are out to scam others usually aren’t willing to give a phone number, as many phones are relatively easy to trace to an actual name and address.  Of course even with that don’t assume that having a phone number give your buyer guaranteed legitimacy.  You want to make sure you get all the contact information as early as possible in the bargaining process.  That way you can be sure you have information that you can verify.  Most information can now be easily double-checked on the Internet.  For example a phone number can now verify an address online with a reverse lookup.  Never accept a cell phone number only information, as cell phones are quite disposable nowadays.

            Be aware of the “special needs” buyer.  This is the scam artist who is anxious to make the purchase but has some “special need” that arises when payment is brought up.  They need to make a specific sort of payment.  You need to be sure you througly investigate this specific payment style.  There are a lot of types of payments that are untraceable, are difficult to collect on, and of course easy to counterfeit (money, checks, bonds, etc.).  One of the most popular is the fraudulent cashiers check.  This has become even more rampant with internet sales as it can take your bank several days or even weeks before they discover the check is a fraud.  Just keep in mind that anythging that you find yourself unfamiliar with or anything that has the potential to “bounce” should be verified (cleared), not just cashed.  There is nothing wrong with waiting for your bank to confirm that the funds have been received before delivering anything to a legitimate buyer.

            Here’s an easy warning sign to pick up on.  Your buyer is looking to make a quick purchase and has very few or no questions to ask.  This is a situation where they may be trying to tie you up into a scam.  It could be that there is a buyer that is so wowed by your advertisement that they don’t have any other questions but that’s not very likely.  Most buyers aren’t going to be experts in all aspects of classic cars, so you can bet a scam artist is unlikely to know it all and they may not even know what to ask.  Remember whenever your in doubt ask plenty of questions of your own.  Be sure you get solid contact information and are able to verify their identity.  Again make sure their payment clears prior to giving them the keys to your car.

            When it comes to ripping you off don’t expect everyone to be local.  Scam artists come from all over the world.  As strange as it may seem not many classic car scammers can speak very good english.    You might recall that just a few years ago Nigerian scams were the big thing. The trademark of broken-English and diffucult communication still continues today, though the Nigerian-based scams are not nearly as widespread as they were in the past.  One warning sign you can look for is someone claiming to be from somewhere in the United States but they type (and speak) very bad English.  Then you find as the deal goes on they make it clear they want your car very badly and are willing to pay even more than it’s worth.

            You know the old adage that if it seems to good be true you can bet that it probably is.  The buyer offers you a lot more money than you are asking for the car, they offer to take care of the shipping themselves and are willing to make a quick deal with you using a certified form of payment.  What’s the problem?  Well one of the most popular scams, one that is modeled after the Nigerian Car scams starts out with this kind of setup.  Here’s an example.

            Your asking $4500 for your car.  Along comes a someone who wants to buy immediately, with or without any questions beforehand, and they are willing to pay $8000.  So what’s the catch?  He needs you to send part of the difference to him (or maybe a third party) to handle the transportation.  They quickly mail you a check or some other form of payment, waits for you to cash it, and then calls you once or twice a day to sent him the difference.  Usually, once the difference is sent to him he vanishes without a trace and no one bothers to collect the car. A few days later the bank calls you and tells you that the check bounce or was fraudulent.  You find you owe the bank a serious amount of money and there is no way to recoup any of it.  Understanding this process is the best way to keep it from happening to you.

            A lot of people have difficulty deciding how to price their vehicle. The NADA Guides are a valuable resource for buying or selling a classic car. They have sections set aside for everything from collectible cars to muscle cars — and a range of years that is nothing short of impressive, going as far back as the ’20s.  There are many pricing guides out there but quite often they don’t take into consideration the special aspects of classic and custom cars.  Find other cars for sale that are similar to yours.  Determine a high and a low range of those for sale and the conditions that they run and see what range your particular car may fall into.

            Some cars are rarer than others and may be difficult to get an accurate price idea for them.  Consider an appraiser,
possibly two.  It may cost you a little but a good appraiser makes it his business to know the value of your vehicle and all that has gone into it.

            Do all you can to prepare your car for sale.  Remember too that quite often a buyer is looking for a car that is complete.  Finding or duplicating lost or damaged parts is slow and costly.  Though there a those out there that look forward to getting under the hood most buyers want the car that comes more complete.  You can get a way with a bit more if your car is genuinely rare.

            At the very least make sure your vehicle is clean.  No one wants to purchase a car that looks as if it hasn’t been cared for.  This means more that just a wash and a wipe down.  Take the time to clean up those seats and the dashboard.  Get down into the crevices, shine up the glass, feed that leather.  There are excellent restoring cleaners out there.  A few bucks up front can mean more bucks on the back end.

            You shouldn’t be embarrassed to open the hood either.  A quick cleaning won’t make your engine sparkle but it will be an improvement and won’t take all weekend either.  Pressure washers are the best way to go.  Watch Shop Talk the next couple of weeks when we give you some tips on detailing your engine.

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