Matt Harwood

A window into the life of a car dealer

Recommended Posts

Thanks for the quick reply.

 

A couple of instances:  One man I know had a 1936 Lincoln

phaeton, #3 condition.  I think it was realistically worth $75,000

around 2010.  A pretty large dealer bought it for around that price

and immediately asked $149,000.

 

A 1935 Buick Model 50 victoria coupe was for sale in the Buick Bugle

for $37,500.  It didn't sell, so the price got reduced in subsequent ads

to $35,000 and then $32,000.  It was supposedly a 400-point car that

needed nothing.  A dealer bought it and immediately asked $62,000.

Four years later, the dealer still had it.

 

So if the Buick was supposedly worth $62,000 to a buyer--one couldn't

restore it for that price--well, it wasn't worth $37,500 to all the Buick readers

who saw the ads.  Four years later, did the dealer quietly sell it

for much less to restore some cash to his coffers?

 

As much as I appreciate realistically priced cars--for the hobby's sake

as well as mine--I want to courteously appreciate all the things that

someone in the business has to go through to make a living.  Surely

it's not like selling newer cars, where dozens are available and he

can make a smaller mark-up on each.

1936 Lincoln phaeton 1.jpg

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know that I can speak to what other dealers are thinking, but on the Lincoln it does seem like a big mark-up. On the other hand, if it were a V12 Packard convertible sedan, it would be worth even more. If I were that dealer and I was feeling ambitious about it, I might try to match the Packard market with an equivalent car, particularly if I had the luxury of time. Perhaps that's the thought with that handsome Lincoln, I don't know. I might be willing to roll those dice.

 

I also know one of the largest dealer's primary technique is to buy unusual cars for which there are very few comps and not much of an established track record. He does put huge prices on them, often twice what he paid. However, when a buyer comes and offers him 70% of his asking price, he sells. The buyer feels like he got a huge win, the dealer still made a good margin, it's a win-win. The trick is being able to get the buyers to call in the first place, even after seeing an egregious price. That doesn't happen for me--if it's over-priced, the phone simply doesn't ring. I don't know why his business is different in that regard.

 

I do remember that Buick and I remember thinking it was a handsome car, and also that it was too expensive. However, I was under the impression that the dealer selling it was the restoration shop that did the work and they were trying to recoup costs or something. I don't really remember the story, but it was a tan one stuck in a corner for many of the photos, correct?  Or am I thinking of another one?

 

Your examples bring me to another point--is the problem the actual asking price or the fact that you know how much the dealer paid? Most folks understand a mark-up, but they seem to resent a big one, even if the mark-up merely pushes the car into the proper price range. If I pay $3500 for a fully restored Model A roadster and everyone knows it, they're still going to resent me for trying to get $25,000 for it even though that's the right price. That's certainly not a unique situation and with many sale results available online, there's certainly some resentment that a dealer got the "deal" and isn't passing it along to a "real" hobbyist. On the other hand, rarely do dealers buy cars that aren't available to the general public, so the deals that we sometimes get aren't unique to us, only that we were willing to step up and take advantage. I think that '35 Lincoln club sedan I just bought is worth at least $10,000 more than I paid, maybe $15 once I'm done sorting it. How much resentment would there be if I listed it here tomorrow for $59,900 but you guys all know that I probably paid less than $39,000 for it?

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
51 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

I do remember that Buick and I remember thinking it was a handsome car, and also that it was too expensive. ..it was a tan one stuck in a corner for many of the photos, correct?  Or am I thinking of another one?

 

Yes, that 1935 Buick was tan.  I don't know who restored it.

 

I ran across the 1936 Lincoln when I was looking for an

interesting pre-war car--my first and only pre-war car so far.

I don't begrudge anyone getting into the hobby for a living--

doing what he loves full-time--and having to make profit.  

However, if I could push myself to buy that $75,000 Lincoln,

I couldn't justify $149,000 and would just have to pass it by.

If the dealer was going to seek, say, $95,000, it would be

less discouraging to the potential buyer if he asked 10% more than that.

 

I've passed by other cars too if the price was too high,

rather than insulting the seller.  Sigh!  But I can only own,

maintain, and enjoy a few out of the many interesting cars

that are out there, so I'm not really disappointed. 

 

Actually, that 1936 Lincoln I found out about after it had

already sold.  I ended up buying a Locomobile from the

same collector.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

I do mind haggling with someone who simply does it for amusement purposes. It's like the person who goes to a garage sale, picks up something small with a $1.00 price tag and asks if they'll take $0.25.

 Now see, context is everything. You are in business to make a living and your time is valuable. I would never haggle with you in bad faith just for sport. However, if I was genuinely interested in buying one of your cars I most certainly would respectfully negotiate price and terms until they either met my expectations or we both decided further talk was fruitless.

OTOH, to use your garage sale example, there are times when bargaining for sport is harmless fun. I once stumbled upon the most worthless POS garage sale item  imaginable that I wanted to buy as a joke. Both the seller and I knew it was worthless. He was asking $5. I offered $2. We haggled back and forth for at least 15 solid minutes. We invoked each others spouses and kids in the bargaining. In the end we were both almost in tears laughing at the absurdity. I finally got it for $3 and gave him $4. We both had a ball and shook hands as worthy opponents...............Bob

  • Like 2
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
51 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

If the Locomobile is the red car in your avatar, I have admired that car for many years. A fantastic car!

 

Just for interest:

It's a 1916 Model 38 (wheelbase 140" instead

of 143" in the Model 48, and a smaller engine).

It's an older restoration still nice,

and I've driven it a lot.  No need to go to the

gym to build muscle when you're driving a

car like this!

 

 

Locomobile in Lower Allen Park 1 - Copy (3).JPG

1916 Locomobile--Sayler 17.JPG

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
  • Like 10

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Garage sales? I had two old wood stoves to sell. I priced them at 20.00 each or two for 10.00. That's how I price my garage sales and I agree, it makes for a lot of fun. Would I attempt to buy or sell a car ths way. No. I must admit though, that reading all of Matt's postings has been enjoyable and informative. Glad to hear from people with common sense, integrity, and knowledge.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

I don't begrudge anyone getting into the hobby for a living--

doing what he loves full-time--and having to make profit. 

Nor do I, if the dealer is also a true antique/classic enthusiast.  I do know that Matt Harwood is such a person.  He has led club regions/chapters and I think been on the Board of CCCA at one time.  I know he goes on tours and participates in the hobby.  I also know him to talk to and that he has several cars of his own that he is very partial to.  I have almost bought two cars from him, but I haven't .  I was ready to buy one, but at the last minute he warned me off the car, because I wanted to do too much to it.  Besides, it was one of his "keepers" and that's a good thing.  The other car was something I wanted, but I didn't like that particular car.  I tried to talk myself into it but I couldn't, even though that particular kind of car isn't out there on the street corner.  I didn't have a painter to turn to (now I do).  I didn't have an upholsterer to turn to (now I do), and I had too many cars, had not sold my second home, received any settlement for what caused my Cancer  yet, and to be frank didn't have enough money.  At my age and in my situation I didn't want to borrow any money but I wanted a CCCA-recognized Classic.  Matt, I guess, took pity on me because he bargained on the one car that he personally liked, and still likes.  I actually think he may be going too upgrade it from something I read somewhere.  But, he had figured me out.  He knew I really didn't want that brand of car and was just scratching an itch.  At the last minute he told me he didn't think I would be satisfied with the car.  I had no knowledge of the brand, had never owned one of that brand among the near 75 cars I'd owned since 1955, and he was right.  The other car started out at a price I couldn't afford, plus I didn't like it, even though it was the type I really wanted.  When that car did sell for less money, and a number of those weights I mentioned had been lifted, although not all of them.  I had also made that mistake of asking an expert opinion which further screwed up my thinking.  In the end I bought a much better (I think), but lesser model of the same car (that had later made CCCA classic status, (something myself and others had worked on for years).  Now I'm doing what I always do; making it to my satisfaction, and I'll have far more money in it than it will ever be worth.  In the process I've learned one important lesson.  At 80, I'm going to enjoy that car, lose the money if I ever sell it, and not worry about the money.  I've grieved over selling that National Award winning 1939 Buick convertible when I got sick, for 70% of what it cost me to buy and restore.  Well, it's been through 3-4 dealerships now and never has been sold to a collector.  Now they are offering it for less 93% of what it cost to restore.  Still, the one who bought it from me was there when I needed somebody.  Just think, my 2017 Buick LaCrosse is only worth 56% of what it cost in Janurary.  Why get all hung up on that idea of "making money on an old car?"  Yes, it gets to me when a friends says "I never have lost money on any car".  Well, he likes only 55 Chevrolet convertibles.  I like what one other friend calls "those big, floppy old Buicks."  We only go around once.  In closing, remember, dealers know their business.  If they are good at what they do, they always get a lot more money for a car than Joe Average can ever do.

Edited by Dynaflash8 (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

 

Just for interest:

It's a 1916 Model 38 (wheelbase 140" instead

of 143" in the Model 48, and a smaller engine).

It's an older restoration still nice,

and I've driven it a lot.  No need to go to the

gym to build muscle when you're driving a

car like this!

 

 

Locomobile in Lower Allen Park 1 - Copy (3).JPG

1916 Locomobile--Sayler 17.JPG

 

Man, that's a great looking car! It's also now a CCCA Full Classic, if that matters. It would be a HUGE hit at any CCCA Grand Classic as the early cars haven't started showing up in large numbers yet. Love it!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is off the subject, but when I was 13 I got every issue of MoTor Trend to read Robert Gottlieb's column, "Classic Comments".  I learned about Auburn, Duesenberg, Ruxton, Packard, etc.  My first car was a 16-year old 1939 Buick Special with dual sidemounts and factory leather interior.  I wrote to Gottlieb and asked if it was a "classic".  He didn't reply, but in 1956 his second book, "Classic and Special Interest Cars" he did mention a car like mine as a "special interest car".  So, as soon as I found out about AACA, I joined in 1962. 

Back in the 1960's ANTIQUE AUTOMOBILE Magazine ran article after article on cars like this Locomobile and others.  They were still finding them stored in barns and garages then, and the magazine was full of neat barn find pictures followed by pictures of the restorations.  The articles excited me.  Locomobile's were prominent in those articles.  I remember one article about the HAL, and now I can't remember what kind of car it was, but I think it was a Locomobile version.  I was never personally into cars of that vintage, but I loved the articles.  As a kid in his early 20's I couldn't even dream of affording a car like that.  But, I applied those people's experiences and restoration adaptations into the cars of the 30's that were, it seems, always a part of my being.  I was very active in the hobby in the late 1960s and early 1970s trying to get the 1936-1948 cars into a spot of appreciation in the hobby.  AACA has always, in my time, been the pinnacle club of the hobby.  Finally in 1974 AACA accepted all cars up to 1950 and changed their rules to 25 years old and older.  That was good, in my view; but in those impressionable days of the early 1960's, reading those articles on great cars I'd never heard of before like Locomobile, Peerless, HAL, etc. and others, were still wonderful times for me.  That's when I really was drawn, forever, into antique and classic car collecting.  To be associated with AACA and seeing it's dignified leaders of the time  in action gave me a respect, as a lover and collector of antique and classic cars (even though mine were not accepted as either at the time) that my father would not.  I guess you always want your father's approval.  He always told me, "if you don't stop fooling with those old junk cars, you will never amount to anything." 

Only when I sold my 1941 Buick Limited prize winner in 1981 and paid off my house did he offer any begrudging respect.  He told his friends, "my son actually found somebody crazier than he was and sold that car for big money."  Thank you AACA for the great association and the many friends I've made though the club over the years.

Edited by Dynaflash8 (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a general observation, not a stereotype at all, but it seems like most of the hagglers I have met spawned from ancestral backgrounds of peoples whom thought they could take over the world.

 

Bernie

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, 60FlatTop said:

Just a general observation, not a stereotype at all, but it seems like most of the hagglers I have met spawned from ancestral backgrounds of peoples whom thought they could take over the world.

 

Bernie

Bernie, I "I don't mean no harm", but I can't make one bit of sense out of that statement.

  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/5/2018 at 11:09 AM, Bhigdog said:

When buying anything from an individual it is only common courtesy to bargain. Even if the asking price is what you are willing to pay and will finally pay it is common courtesy to bargain. If you readily and happily pay the asking price the seller will forever feel he priced the item too low and was taken advantage of. Be courteous and bargain. If the seller does accept your lower price he will feel he did as good as possible and so will you................Bob

My Father would not buy anything from an individual such as a car or even a lawn mower if he couldn't talk the person down.. He would walk away no matter how much he wanted it. he would even bargain in stores if he thought he could get a better deal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Flip side of the coin... I hate to haggle. When I absolutely have to, I'll say something like "what will you take". If I like it, I'll buy it. If not, I'll walk away. I also hate it when people do it to me. Years ago I had a good friend who owned a used bookstore. Everything was priced but every so often someone would ask "will you take X"? Schuyler would look over his glasses and say "this is not an Arab bazaar." Better yet was Bill Gregory at Bill's Auto Parts in Valley Falls, RI (older NE collectors will all probably remember him). If you tried haggling with Bill he might throw you out. I clearly remember a guy who found (if I remember this correctly) a glove box door for a Chrysler Imperial Airstream (late 30s? - they aren't something I know much about) ... How much he asked Bill (who knew exactly what it was).... $25.00

Will you take $15.00... Bill took the door, threw it back over his shoulder into a pile of carburetors and said "it's not for sale."

 

So... I don't think it's polite to haggle and avoid it whenever I possibly can.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, JV Puleo said:

 

So... I don't think it's polite to haggle and avoid it whenever I possibly can.

 

I agree 100%  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't consider asking someone if they'll take less.....in fact I think you're an idiot if you don't.......or have too much money.

Beyond that no.......not ever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, JV Puleo said:

Flip side of the coin... I hate to haggle. When I absolutely have to, I'll say something like "what will you take". If I like it, I'll buy it. If not, I'll walk away. I also hate it when people do it to me. Years ago I had a good friend who owned a used bookstore. Everything was priced but every so often someone would ask "will you take X"? Schuyler would look over his glasses and say "this is not an Arab bazaar." Better yet was Bill Gregory at Bill's Auto Parts in Valley Falls, RI (older NE collectors will all probably remember him). If you tried haggling with Bill he might throw you out. I clearly remember a guy who found (if I remember this correctly) a glove box door for a Chrysler Imperial Airstream (late 30s? - they aren't something I know much about) ... How much he asked Bill (who knew exactly what it was).... $25.00

Will you take $15.00... Bill took the door, threw it back over his shoulder into a pile of carburetors and said "it's not for sale."

 

So... I don't think it's polite to haggle and avoid it whenever I possibly can.

A friend took me to Bill's Auto Parts once.  It was about 1977.  It was the most fabulous salvage yard I've ever visited.  My friend who I was visiting drove down from Boston and I always thought the place was in Providence, RI.  It was a day trip to remember.  I had a 41 Buick Limited at the time, I think two of them.  I did have two at one time in my garage.  I remember getting the long thin rear courtesy light lenses out of a '41 Limited he had in the yard.  There were also many big classics there including  a Cadillac 4dr convertible and something with 12 or 16 cylinders...I just can't remember what brand.  Inside I saw I remember a whole pile of NOS 41 Buick rocker panel moldings.  I always wanted to go back there, but was never lucky enough to do it.

Edited by Dynaflash8 (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, JV Puleo said:

Flip side of the coin... I hate to haggle. When I absolutely have to, I'll say something like "what will you take". If I like it, I'll buy it. If not, I'll walk away. I also hate it when people do it to me. Years ago I had a good friend who owned a used bookstore. Everything was priced but every so often someone would ask "will you take X"? Schuyler would look over his glasses and say "this is not an Arab bazaar." Better yet was Bill Gregory at Bill's Auto Parts in Valley Falls, RI (older NE collectors will all probably remember him). If you tried haggling with Bill he might throw you out. I clearly remember a guy who found (if I remember this correctly) a glove box door for a Chrysler Imperial Airstream (late 30s? - they aren't something I know much about) ... How much he asked Bill (who knew exactly what it was).... $25.00

Will you take $15.00... Bill took the door, threw it back over his shoulder into a pile of carburetors and said "it's not for sale."

 

So... I don't think it's polite to haggle and avoid it whenever I possibly can.

I recently had as similar situation which left me surprised.  A person offered me some parts I was looking for, I had a wanted ad running on an enthusiasts web site. He offered me 4 parts I was looking for, 3 at $200.00 and the fourth at $300.00 total $900.00 {plus shipping}. I felt the price was definitely on the high side having seen similar parts over the last year or so for up to $200.00 less. In fact I purchased the same parts for the other side of the car for $250.00 about 2 years ago off the Bay.  I responded that I was interested, however would he consider $800.00 for the group.  He sent a email simply stating "Part are not for sale". To say the least I was quite shocked, he hadn't mentioned his price was firm and I really didn't think my offer was in any way a low ball.

 However it takes all kinds in the old car game, and I will probably find what I need eventually, possibly even at a more realistic price.

 

Greg in Canada

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the comment about the Arab bazaar. Striped tents, sand, and camels come to mind immediately. It has it's own set of gestures and actions, like some kind of mating behavior. In the end it is the same, just no fertility.

 

Bernie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, cahartley said:

I don't consider asking someone if they'll take less.....in fact I think you're an idiot if you don't.......or have too much money.

Beyond that no.......not ever.

 

Asking someone if the can do a little better on a price is one thing, making an insulting offer is just as rude as referring to someone as an "idiot" because they don't share your opinion. How hard is it to be polite? 

Edited by John348 (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, 1912Staver said:

I recently had as similar situation which left me surprised.  A person offered me some parts I was looking for, I had a wanted ad running on an enthusiasts web site. He offered me 4 parts I was looking for, 3 at $200.00 and the fourth at $300.00 total $900.00 {plus shipping}. I felt the price was definitely on the high side having seen similar parts over the last year or so for up to $200.00 less. In fact I purchased the same parts for the other side of the car for $250.00 about 2 years ago off the Bay.  I responded that I was interested, however would he consider $800.00 for the group.  He sent a email simply stating "Part are not for sale". To say the least I was quite shocked, he hadn't mentioned his price was firm and I really didn't think my offer was in any way a low ball.

 However it takes all kinds in the old car game, and I will probably find what I need eventually, possibly even at a more realistic price.

 

Greg in Canada

 

In all fairness Greg but you did run a wanted ad, so you did leave yourself open that would be willing to pay the price to get the part. It all depends how much you want/need it. I have found when I ran a wanted ad and the price was high or out of my range the best answer was I had someone else contact me with the same part and it was less then the price you gave. If the person is interested in selling it for less the have the opportunity to adjust their price. This way the door is never closed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes , I know I was advertising that I wanted the parts. And if he had simply declined my $800.00 offer and stated that his price was indeed firm I would have in all probability paid the $900.00. However he seemed to react as if any sort of bargaining was insulting. If his initial price had been in line with what I had seen to be a reasonable market value I would have paid it no question. But based on what I had seen a few times he seemed to be at least 25% above the going rate. If it was a commercial seller I would have not attempted an offer, however in my experience private sellers will generally consider sensible offers. Perhaps the seller was just having a bad day.

 Like I said 2 years ago I bought the opposite side off Ebay for $250.00. And that was after the parts were offered a few time at a slightly higher price with no takers , $300.00 if I recall correctly. $900.00 seemed like a big jump up , however if I average the two purchases it would have been borderline reasonable.

 Eventually I will find the parts, I have a left and right set that is for a different model but close enough that they can substituted so I am not completely stuck. 

It was just the sellers abrupt, all or nothing attitude  that took me aback. Most people on the website in question are like those here on the AACA forum, enthusiastic and happy to help out where they can.  I just encountered someone I wasn't expecting. 

 

Greg in Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, John348 said:

 I have found when I ran a wanted ad and the price was high or out of my range the best answer was I had someone else contact me with the same part and it was less then the price you gave. If the person is interested in selling it for less the have the opportunity to adjust their price. This way the door is never closed.

 

I don't understand how this differs from offering a figure below the asking price. 

 

On the other hand, if another person had actually offered the part to you at a price below the original responder to your ad, why were you even talking to him/her? 

 

Whether or not one agrees with the practice of "haggling", as you pointed out in your Post #96 above, it's always best to be polite and truthful. 

 

Cheers,

Grog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Make an offer. If the seller wants to consider it an insult who cares? Older cranks can be some of the most arrogant and greedy.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now