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It must be hard to be a classic car dealer---


John_S_in_Penna
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I was talking to a fellow club member the other day,

and he said that his son, who's now currently in building

construction, was thinking of becoming a classic car dealer.

As a hobbyist, I was thinking, "Oh, great. Another dealer to

compete for any nice old cars offered for sale."

I suspect the dealers would think, "Oh, great. Another dealer to

compete for any nice old cars offered for sale."

Sure, it might be enjoyable to make your old-car interest

your full-time job, but I'll bet it's not so easy, especially with

what seems like hundreds of classic-car dealers already out there.

The competition to buy nice cars must be keen, and with all

the overhead, it must be a challenge to price a car and keep it saleable.

I'm sure it's not like a modern-car dealer who can find decent cars

all day long and count on volume sales for a lower mark-up.

Any insights, current dealers and hobbyists? Let's hear your stories

to inform and entertain all us old car fans!

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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The market may be specialized but I don't think it's that much more difficult than a regular used-car dealership. Creative marketing and the right attitude will contribute to a successful business. Dealers can often sell more easily than a private person because they can offer financing, which becomes a factor as prices climb into and past five figures. Many, if not most, classic car dealers are interested in finished cars that can be easily reconditioned and re-sold. With the 'graying' of the hobby there will be many cars that need to be sold because their owners are deceased. Families need to dispose of the vehicle and move on. There are many other buying venues including dealer auctions, salvage auctions, consignments, and walk-in sellers.

Edited by Harold (see edit history)
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I always thought it would be a good idea to open a lot that specializes in beginner antique and classic cars under $20,000. Is there any place where you can go and look at 30 or so collector cars from $3000-20,000? There are tons of cars that you could buy for $2000-7000 and sell for $5000-15000 with a little work and detailing. You could offer services like basic maintenance and tune ups. You can't throw a stick anymore without hitting a dealer that specializes in $100K Vettes, $600K Ferrari and of course the over priced muscle cars. It would be nice to have a place that carried nice, clean driver quality classics that anyone could afford. It is a good way to get people into a hobby that if you watch TV you would think is affordable.

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Well, I'll jump in and swim around here for a while. By far the hardest part of being a collector car dealer is finding good cars. However, there are A LOT of cars out there and a lot of buyers and sellers, so my personal belief is that the pie is big enough for everyone. Some dealers specialize, some generalize, some are financially shaky and some seem to have unlimited funds. In short, I believe there's a place for everyone if you can cut it in the business.

And on the surface, it sure seems like fun, doesn't it? I'll admit that I love my job, but I also work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. The phone never stops ringing, the E-mails never stop coming, and I always have to be on the hunt for more cars, because new inventory is what drives the business. I love the fact that I get to play with cool cars and there are days when I just go into the showroom and "feel" the cars; it makes me happy to just be standing among them. It also brings me a great deal of pride to look around my showroom and see what I've built in just a year of being in business for myself. It also took every penny I had in savings (banks won't floorplan collector cars, it's all on you), most of my free time, and a few clients who were willing to trust me enough to take a leap of faith when I went out on my own. I've rewarded them with almost $1 million in sales just since January 1. Hard work matters, and you need to put in the time. This ain't a hobby anymore, not for me.

Now, there are plenty of dealers out there, and they're all a little different. Some are high volume and some are happy to sell a handful of cars each year. Personally, I focus on interesting cars and, more importantly, quality. That seems vague, but I don't want to sell just used cars, so something like a late-model C6 Corvette gets turned away while I'll bring in an older ZR-1, which I find interesting and perhaps has some collector merit. And to me, quality means fewer headaches. 100% of my job is avoiding headaches and crappy cars cause headaches. No old car is perfect, but there's an astounding amount of junk out there. Some dealers don't mind and will take anything that they can turn for a buck, and that's fine. Profit is profit and if the buyer is a big boy and goes in with his eyes open, well, that's just fine. Some dealers pass off the junk, cash the check, and too bad for you, and some manage to last a while doing that, but most will collapse eventually under the weight of their own dishonesty and greed. You see a lot of dealers closing and reorganizing under a different name, and this is exactly why--they finally screwed enough people that they couldn't hide anymore, so they just change the name and start over.

Quality is what I want in my showroom, cars that don't need excuses and don't give me headaches and keep me up at night worrying about irate customers. And for that, I can often charge a premium, because my reputation helps sell cars and people know I don't play games. I also offer financing and painless door-to-door shipping, and I will sometimes take trades which helps many collectors, especially in the tax department. Sadly, most of the trades I get offered are along the lines of, "Hey, I have this crappy car that I can't give away, will you take it in exchange for your good car? I only want 110% of retail for it." I'm tired of flat-out junk in my E-mail IN box every day. God there's some truly horrible stuff out there. But if you see a car on my website or offered here, you know it's a good car that I've personally touched, driven, and checked, and I'll tell you everything I know about it, good, bad, and ugly. If I own the car (I own a bunch of my inventory, by the way, I'm not just consignment), then you know I was VERY careful about checking it out before putting my own money into it.

Is another dealer cause for worry? Nope. Most new ones will go belly-up in a year anyway, to be honest. In both of my dealer ventures (when I was a partner with Vintage and now that I'm on my own), at about the 6 or 8-month mark, you run out of money, the cars you have are stale and not selling, and you need to somehow throw more cash in all at once to keep the thing floating while you wait for customers to find you and trust you. It's a hard decision to make because you're jumping without being able to see the other side of the chasm. This is a very hard gig. It takes smart money management, an acute view of the market, the willingness to take big risks, and enough up-front cash to make yourself a presence. You don't need a big, glorious showroom, but you need to advertise, you need to be professional in every sense of the word, and you need to make the cars show up in front of people properly. I'm always shocked by the lousy photos and bad writing that accompanies some advertising, say, on Hemmings.com. Do they really sell cars like that? Would someone trust them? Heck, there was a post just last week where a whole bunch of AACA forum members were lambasting a dealer for posting a video that had clearly not been through a final edit, with more than a few guys saying they'd never trust that dealer--or any dealer--ever again because of it. This is a VERY tough crowd with sometimes unreasonable expectations, and the expectations for dealers are orders of magnitude higher than in private party sales.

There's a lot of dealer hate in this hobby, too. How often do you see a comment on a car for sale along the lines of, "I hope no dealer buys it and marks it up to make a profit." Yeah, OK, and I hope you go to work on Monday and just take less money for doing your job, too, because reasons. If you do this job, you need to be ready for people to hate you the way they hate lawyers--on an instinctive and completely irrational level, just because of what you do for a living.

Do I look at other dealers as competition? No. I work with a few on a regular basis and those I have relationships with, we find ways to make money together. The pie is big enough. And if you treat people fairly, honestly, and with dignity, and don't try to pretend that your cars are something they're not, then maybe you can even sleep soundly at night.

Here are some shots of my showroom, and I'm very proud of it. It builds confidence in both buyers and sellers that I know what I'm doing, and I love nothing better than being in there among all the cars. But it took me a long time and a lot of work to get here, and I'm only just getting started.

It's a fun job, but it's also the hardest job I've ever had. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

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Nice to finally see a clean, classy showroom. I am sick of seeing the showrooms and garages where every square inch is taken up by old signs, neon, banners, hubcaps and anything else that can be nailed to a wall. Hard to concentrate on the car with all that visual noise around. Your place looks more like an art gallery and the exhibits are beautiful. The hard work has certainly paid off.

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Quote from Matt: There's a lot of dealer hate in this hobby, too. How often do you see a comment on a car for sale along the lines of, "I hope no dealer buys it and marks it up to make a profit."

I believe, at least in my opinion, that the mind-set of a large number of us "car guys" or "gals" still think of it as being a "hobby" and not a "business"

Thus leading to the aformentioned comment.

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I'm 49 and have been in the business since I was 18. My dad wanted me to be an undertaker and my mom wanted me to be an dentist. There are days that I wish I would have listened to them and there are days that I am glad I did not. I have worked for three major museums (Briggs Cunningham as a kid, Harrahs and The Henry Ford) and have been fortunate to handle some really great and rare cars. How many people out there have been fortunate enough to drive Locomobile's Old 16 AND the New York to Paris Thomas Flyer? Or sit in four of the six Bugatti Royals and drive two of them? I have been fortunate to travel to places that no one else would ever see and to places that no one would ever want to go to. There have been months where I have made really good money and there have been months where I did not have money for living expenses. The best part about it has been the people- the customers and friends that I have bought and sold cars for, the people that I have toured with thousands of miles all over this great country of ours and the fellow dealers that I have shared experiences with year after year. At the end of the day, I am fortunate to be able to do what I am passionate about but that doesn't mean that everyday is fun or easy.

Edited by motoringicons (see edit history)
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I've ridden in but one Royale, and consider myself fortunate, so 2 drives and 4 rides is impressive!

I don't envy dealers a bit. Matt said it best with some great points. I've bought and sold enough cars to know the angst of working with some people. Within the last few weeks I had a guy make a deal on the 1910 Hudson I have for sale, numerous phone calls and emails. He even called me the very day "the check was in the mail" to let me know it was on the way. That was three weeks ago and he no longer answers emails, go figure. Refraining from kicking the tire kickers must be hard for many dealers.......

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I find it quite interesting when speaking to people in the hobby that dealers, auction houses, and collectors are all having a hard time locating good cars. Truth is that 98 percent of what is out there has moderate or severe condition, running problems, or such poor provenance that they are just a bottomless pit of time and resources. Seems like everyone wants to make a killing on their car. Fact is I have owned some wonderful world class cars, lost tones of money on some, made a bundle on a few, and broke even on the rest. I don't know if I am up or down overall. I would like to think I am at even money across the board, but my best guess is I am down in the mid six figures. I do know I have more fun than almost anybody I know, and when they carry me to my final resting place a few will comment that I sure got to own, fix, judge, drive, restore, and wreck a great number of toys. I don't expect to ever cash out all my cars and empty my garage. I'll die with a bunch of toys that were restored well, driven hard, and worn out for the next caretaker. It is my intention to have more enjoyment out of this hobby than anyone else I know of. It will be time and money well spent. And it's the only way to get a good return on your investment. Drive and enjoy your cars, forget about the money..........you can't take it with you. Find a car you like and can afford..........drive it, show it, hide it in your garage and polish it till the paints thin. What ever you enjoy. Life is short and were are not on this earth for very long. Enjoy your work, family, and leisure time. You have less time than you realize. Ed. These profound thoughts are brought to you by a generation X'er. (Yes, I am still in my forties. I started in this hobby very young.)

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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By the way, Matt has very good insight into the market / hobby. Old cars are tons of work. They are difficult to deal with and very time consuming. Overhead and expenses are high, it isn't an easy way to make a living. But most things in life that are rewarding are difficult.

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It is my intention to have more enjoyment out of this hobby than anyone else I know of. It will be time and money well spent.

I agree 100%. Like the old saying goes....." I spent most of my money on women and cars...... the rest I just squandered." :)

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Matt (Post #4) mentioned keeping inventory from getting "stale."

I know what he means, because it's more interesting to check

a dealer's ads and see that he has something new and interesting.

Some dealers have the same thing month after month after month,

and I saw one dealer who had a '35 Buick for at least 4 years!

I've seen one dealership that's been around a long time,

and their approach seems to be to put normal dealer mark-up

on their cars--making some still reasonable, some rather over-priced--

and those that don't sell, take to one of the classic-car auctions,

sell them and buy other cars, to refresh the inventory.

Would they have a special low-commission arrangement with

the auction company, since they do such volume with them?

I see another dealer (or more) do the same on Ebay. For example,

an excellent, low-mileage 1977-78 Lincoln, worth $10,000 or so,

priced on their site at say $16,000--but after some months it's time

for something new, and they're lucky to get the $10,000 they might

have hoped for.

Others (and a dealer friend of mine does too) use Ebay for the "advertising"

only, and tend to make most sales independently of that site.

It looks like, for many cars, Ebay buyers are only after bargains.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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Nice to finally see a clean, classy showroom. I am sick of seeing the showrooms and garages where every square inch is taken up by old signs, neon, banners, hubcaps and anything else that can be nailed to a wall. Hard to concentrate on the car with all that visual noise around. Your place looks more like an art gallery and the exhibits are beautiful. The hard work has certainly paid off.

Yup. Agree totally. Exactly why having an Auction to clean a lot of crap out has been on my mind lately. Nothing like a nice clean place with room to walk around and work. Dandy Dave!

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It's a fun job, but it's also the hardest job I've ever had. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

*raises eyebrow curiously*

Don't suppose you are hiring ... or know of other classic car dealerships hiring?

Cort :)www.oldcarsstronghearts.com

1979 & 1989 Caprice Classics | pigValve, paceMaker, cowValve

"Finding out the hard way what freedom means" __ Baillie and the Boys __ 'Wilder Days'

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There was a place near Lenoir City, Tennessee, called Smokey Mountain Traders that dealt in old cars / collector cars / muscle cars. It didn't take a genius to figure out they would go out of business. The cars were over priced but even more disturbing was the fact that no matter what car came in to their inventory, they would discard whatever wheel/tire combo the car came with and replace them with the same stupid low profile tire / oversized mag wheel combo. Ugh. I mean every dog gone car had the same wheel / tire combo. Stupid. They are now out of business.

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Bob (1937hd45) asked what dealer profit there was on high-end cars.

I don't know, but I know some TRY to make a killing. Some documentation:

---A collector I met had a 1936 Lincoln custom-bodied phaeton, an old

restoration in #3 condition. When I met him, he had just sold it to

a classic-car dealer in Missouri for around $75,000. Immediately the

dealer was trying to resell it for $149,000---attempting a 100% mark-up.

---A member of a southern A.A.C.A. region advertised in Hemmings a

1932 Lincoln KA victoria coupe. (That is the smaller series, a standard body.)

It was an amateur restoration that looked good. The asking price in the ad

was $38.000 or so. When a dealer bought it, immediately she was trying

to get around $100,000 for it--and when I told her on the phone I knew the car,

she lied to me and told me that this was a different car!

---A well-known dealer bought a rare late-Teens car from one of our own

A.A.C.A. region members. He bought it for a price in the upper $30's,

said he would keep it for his own collection; but did quite a lot of work to it,

promptly arranged to show it at a Concours, and then was offering it for sale for

a price $100,000 more than he paid!

I admire the dealers who love cars, are honest, and work for a reasonable mark-up.

I have a couple of friends in that category, though their asking prices are somewhat

high, probably for business reasons. But these examples above, to me, show just the opposite.

Business is a right idea; greed is an evil. When does business become greed?

Are such high attempted mark-ups really a help to the hobby?

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---A collector I met had a 1936 Lincoln custom-bodied phaeton, an old

restoration in #3 condition. When I met him, he had just sold it to

a classic-car dealer in Missouri for around $75,000. Immediately the

dealer was trying to resell it for $149,000---attempting a 100% mark-up.

I think I know the place (your PM confirmed it).

I have seen this outfit buy pre-war Fords from private sellers and mark them up considerably with out doing much to them.

Edited by Pomeroy41144 (see edit history)
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Well, just some random thoughts.

First of all, if an individual sells a car to a dealer, then the individual must have been satisfied with the price obtained. Otherwise, don't sell.

Mark up is simple: ask anything, the higher the better, then when you come down on price the buyer will think they got a deal. Can't blame a dealer for doing that, a dealer is trying to make the most money he can.

A dealer only needs one person very interested in a car. I know of an early brass car, that sold in the $30K range, the dealer was asking $70K, sold it to a fellow for $60K. Fellow didn't have to pay that, but he wanted it and had the money, so what's the problem? No one forced him to buy it....

And, the markup on a high dollar car will be, well, high dollars. The inverse is true of low dollar cars. I have a friend who's a dealer, in a so-so part of a town not mentioned. He sells cars in the $4000 to $8000 range. He averages $1000 profit on each one. He sells 6 to 8 cars a week. Do the math........but let's say you're dealing in big buck cars, and you only sell one every two weeks...well, you better make a lot more money on that one car.

As long as there are people to pay the higher dollars for collectable cars, there will be dealers. There are a LOT more cars out there than there are collectors, so there's always some inventory to be had, and there are always individuals willing to take a little less for a car just to move it.

One more example...I had a nice '56 T-bird, older restoration, both tops, power everything, asking $30K for it....and couldn't sell it for months. Took it to a local dealer friend of mine, he didn't even drive it, in 5 minutes we settled on $26,500. I was thrilled to move it. He sold it the next day for a profit. I was surprised, but had no hard feelings... I was happy, he was happy, the new owner was happy. Sometimes it works....

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David, I appreciate the thought you put into the response.

With one point, though, I beg to disagree: "Ask anything, the higher

the better...a dealer is trying to make the most money he can."

When asking prices are exorbitant, I never inquire, even though

I would have been interested in their cars. With dealers, that's usually

the case--maybe I shouldn't let their asking prices turn me away.

MONEY isn't the root of all evil, but rather, as an inspired wise man

wrote in timeless words, "Love of money is the root of all evil."

Modesty and honesty aren't weakness, of course; they are strengths.

And they strengthen the hobby when they're rightly employed.

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The description of collector dealers' cash flow, chicken one day and feathers the next. In my experience Matt has it right. Q U A L I T Y. Quality sells itself and requires very little effort other than exposure. I've bought, sold and consigned many times over the last few decades. For me it's an aside to what I do (restoration) and being active within is where you find both buyers and sellers. Too many sales means you're not doing the shop work required, spending too much time chasing the next deal. To do it full time? Go back and read Matt Harwood's post. Nothing in this life is a friggen TV show. Anything to do with collector cars is hard work and requires a discipline akin to martial arts. No, not that you need to be able to drop kick someone that becomes a bad experience (and I'd have liked to once or twice!), it's more like maintaining a clear focus on what you're doing. You can make a nice living doing any level of it full time if you have the will to do what it takes. Anyone that has a passion for any kind of car can learn from and perhaps finance their "affliction" by dealing in like items/cars. Like Matt also said, there's enough for everybody in this little sandbox we all play in. And trust me, this stuff is a very small world and good news travels at the speed of sound. However, bad news travels at the speed of light.

If the young'un that wants to do this is disciplined he'll make it. Specializing isn't a bad way to go either, especially when growing the biz. Sell the cars you know best and grow from there.

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I work in the new car sales (commercial trucks mostly) and always wonder why the focus is so much on "mark-up". If someone gave me a diamond for a dollar I wouldn't sell it for $2 just because that's already 100%. Sure that's an extreme, but it shows the point. Any commodity business buys as low as they can and sells as high as the market will bare. With used machines, then there is often value adding as well. On our used lot, every car gets a new state inspection and emissions as well as wiper blades and an oil change. Most cars are returned to fully functioning order to the best of our ability. This all cost money, and that's before you factor other overhead such as facility, advertising, payroll and the like. Many folks prefer to buy from dealers because even "AS-IS" often gets some help simply as good PR and you get protection from most of the scams. The example of buying at $75k and asking $149k isn't horrible within the right context. Often times cars end up at dealers because the time it takes to properly market a vehicle isn't worth the original owners time. If it was easy to double your money, then everyone would do it. And do you really think someone walks in and pays $149k asking price on a daily basis? When buying a car, new, used, or classic, you will always be disappointed if you focus on how much the guy is making. Instead, consider the current and potential value for YOU. Work out a fair deal and then enjoy! Most of us are here because we like cars, it's hard to do if you are miserable that someone make a few bucks helping you get yours.

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At the risk of alienating myself amongst friends, I'm wondering how many of you are willing to go into work tomorrow and take a pay cut, just for the common good or because your co-workers think you shouldn't make as much doing the job you do. Anyone?

I don't mean for that to sound snarky, but that's what I was getting at when I said there's a lot of mistrust and animosity towards dealers. Yes, we make a profit from a hobby, but almost every business in the world does that. Lionel isn't making electric trains for charity, stamp dealers don't sell stamps at face value, etc. Why are collector cars any different? When I buy a car from a private owner, I don't beat them up on price. If it's advertised for sale and it's in the right neighborhood of what I want to pay, I open a discussion. Sometimes we reach an agreement and everyone goes home happy, sometimes we don't and the car stays on the market with the owner. I'm not swindling anyone or cheating them out of their money. I don't lowball or give insulting offers hoping that I'll catch someone at a weak moment.

And on the sales side, I'm not forcing anyone to buy at my prices. Cars that are over-priced are a self-correcting problem because they don't sell until they've been marked down to a price that the market says is the right one. I'm not hypnotizing anyone into over-paying for a car. Each individual decides what the right price is for him and he pays it or he doesn't. Personal values matter and if you feel like you got a good deal, then you got a good deal regardless of how much money I made doing it. That's really all that matters. Your buddies, who have no skin in the game, by the way, telling you that you paid too much are the ones crapping in the punch bowl, not me.

There's a well-known dealer who buys very obscure stuff and often has very high prices. He buys odd stuff because there are no comparables, no price guide figures, no auction records to determine market value. He buys something unusual for $30,000, marks it up to $100,000, sells it for $60,000, and everyone goes home a winner. That seems pretty darned clever, no? The guy who sold it to him is happy, he got paid. The dealer is happy, he doubled his money. The buyer is happy, he got it for 40% off. Where's the crime? Where's the dishonesty? Where's the damage to the average hobbyist?

Every car I sell takes between 8 and 10 hours to get online. The photos, the editing, the write-up, the posting to the various websites, writing ad copy for print ads, corresponding with editors, etc., all adds up. That's why expensive cars are better than inexpensive cars, margin-wise. A 20% margin on a $10,000 car or a 5% margin on a $100,000 car, which would you rather have if they both took the same amount of effort to sell? And to be honest, the cheaper cars are MUCH harder to sell, mostly because the buyers are different. On a $200,000 car, that's a tiny fraction of the buyer's net worth. On a $16,000 car, that might be every penny the guy can scrape together and the sum total of his life savings. Of course he's going to be skittish about spending it. Those guys often need a lot of extra hand-holding, which takes time, which costs money. I don't mind doing it (in fact, I rather enjoy the people I meet in this job), but the fact is, inexpensive cars are harder to sell and earn less money while doing it. Does that make sense?

I also stand behind the cars I sell. If a guy buys a car from you (the private hobbyist who is just in it for the fun) and calls three months later saying that the transmission puked, do you offer to help? Or do you tell him too bad, the sale was as-is, where-is, no take-backs. I will work with people to make them happy customers in the future. I don't have to do that, there's no legal obligation, and these are ancient machines, after all, so nobody expects them to be perfect. However, since I'm in business, I want repeat customers, I want people happy about their experience, and I want their friends to come see me. So I will sometimes reach into my own pocket to help that along. How many of you have done that on a private sale? What do you care if that guy thinks you're a jerk, right?

I don't like putting cars out there at exorbitant prices, either, and if you see a car whose price is all out of whack on my website, that's because I have a consignor who wants a lot of money. And in 99% of those cases, that consignor is a multiple consignor, a past client, or someone with whom I do a lot of business one way or another. I won't float all his cars at above-market prices, but if he occasionally wants to reach, well, I'll let him. Sooner or later the car sells, usually after it's marked down to the price I told him was correct in the first place, but some guys don't learn that way. In most cases, I'll want a car at a market-correct price, which will include a little bit of profit for me, plus a percentage to cover the hagglers who seem to feel that paying asking price is for suckers. Wish I didn't have to do that, but I do--everyone wants to haggle.

Frantz got it exactly right--don't worry about how much the dealer is making. If the price is what you want to pay, who cares about the profit someone else is making? Life's too short to count everyone else's pennies.

Edited by Matt Harwood
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As the former owner of a small antique shop I can tell you that two things come into play as far as inventory are concerned - mark up and turn over (cash flow). Pricing on an overall basis must seek to balance out the two. I have purchased antiques from knowledgeable dealers at a fraction of retail pricing (say 20 per cent of retail) because they needed cash flow.

Perhaps it's apples and oranges but there has to be money left over at the end of the month when all the bills have been paid. If you spend a few minutes calculating the amount of profit required to stay in business, generated by either mark up or turnover, you will begin to appreciate just how difficult it can be.

As Matt pointed out previously, there is a point in the first few months that either make or break a business. I reached that point and discovered that even though I had access to the capital required to do what had to be done, I didn't have the intestinal fortitude to actually do it with my own money and folded the business. It was a humbling experience. It wasn't a lack of knowledge, just a lack of willingness to take that leap of faith. If a successful businessman is down to his last dollar he is out looking for something to buy with that dollar and sell for a profit. I have a friend who does that very successfully, I can't.

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Frantz got it exactly right--don't worry about how much the dealer is making. If the price is what you want to pay, who cares about the profit someone else is making? Life's too short to count everyone else's pennies.

No matter WHICH hobby you are in there are always those who can't stand the idea of someone making money........ :mad:

We've gone through this scenario at SmokStak many times.......I'm not getting into the exporting end....... :rolleyes: .......where there are those who haven't woken up to the fact there's a better world market than ever before.

Am I going to knock off X $$$$ to keep something I'm selling local? Or even this country?

Hell no........though some swear THEY would........yeah right.......

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While I think Matt covered all the bases here, a few thoughts as this comes up from time to time:

Ed Minnie has it right, I loved the fact that Ed comes out and says "hey this is a hobby" - he is closer to the collector car business, more knowledgable than I am for sure, and has had some pretty impressive cars, BUT like my experience with the 8 - 10 odd cars we have had over the years, sometimes you finish up, sometimes down, sometimes even. Still way ahead of say recreational boaters for example.

A big issue is most people still expect to make money at what is truly a hobby, and resent dealers for wanting to profit at their work.

Nobody is forced to sell or consign to a dealer, or buy from one, but for those who do, their must be a value add, right? At the end of the day I think the exposure/access to vehicles, etc. adds a lot more to the hobby than takes away.

Also agree with Matt that this seems like a 24/7 business, people likely call when convenient to them and expect a body on the other end ready to talk cars for a half hour or so. My wife and I had a nice lunch with a dealer friend a while back, and the phone went off on a cold Sunday afternoon at least three times during the meal, I wonder how many of those countless night and weekend calls and cold steak dinners result in a sale? Just something to think about.

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
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No one can fault a dealer for doing what he loves, at a reasonable mark-up,

but here's one side of the story not considered yet: its effect on newcomers

and younger people in the hobby. We've all been in this situation.

Picture a 20-something car fan, who has always loved old cars and wants to

get his first. With a wife and baby and not a lot of extra cash, he looks around

for a car in the, say, $8000 range. That's a reach for him. But if that same

car were advertised by a high-margin dealer, it would likely have an asking price of $15,000

just so the dealer could make his profit. If he plans eventually to sell the car for $9000,

why not ask $10,000 as hobbyists often (used to) do? What has that dealer's high price

done to the hobby? Has he made the newcomer forget his dreams? What value has

the dealer added to this young man's experience?

A few years ago, I wanted to make my first foray into the early era, and

spent money for a large World War I-era car. Normally, that type of car is owned by

80-year-olds and sits idle in old collections--I wanted to experience forgotten

history and drive it weekly, as I do! If it were for sale by a big dealer, the asking

price would have been double, and I would never have been able to get that car.

To me, dealer profits sometimes put cars out of the reach of everyday collectors.

Dealers, we know you have a role to play in this wide hobby. I just have a

hard time seeing the value in paying extra to buy from one.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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...........To me, dealer profits sometimes put cars out of the reach of everyday collectors.

John, that's why a lot of our hobbists reach out to young people to help promote our hobby and give young people a good beginning in the hobby, a beginning they can afford.

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John, I don't know that price is the lone barrier to young people coming into the hobby and I'm wondering if a 10-20% mark-up on a $20,000 car is stopping anyone from buying. I actually sell to quite a few first-time buyers and they actually like the confidence that comes from dealing with an experienced hobbyist and someone who can show them the ropes, because it's a big world if you haven't grown up in it. If I can meet them face-to-face, I spend a few hours going over the car with them and tell them things about old cars that they need to know. If our only contact is by E-mail or phone, I give them detailed written instructions on the cars and I often give them memberships to the various car clubs, depending on what they've purchased. I hold their hands and they seem to have a lot more comfort in the fact that they're buying an old car from someone who knows old cars and will stand behind them. I'll offer guidance for the guy who says, "I want to get into the hobby but I don't know where to start." Rather than just throwing him a copy of Hemmings and letting him figure it out himself, I'll get a feel for his comfort levels with tinkering, his expectations for performance, and the styles that he likes, how he plans on using the car, then we'll do some match-making. In fact, that's what my wife prefers to call what we do--we aren't a car dealership, we're matchmakers.

The 100% mark-ups that a lot of guys think are SOP in the industry aren't common (I rarely see more than 10% on a sale), and even if they were, those aren't the cars that first-time buyers are buying. Modestly-priced cars with a modest mark-up are still in dealer showrooms and they're still cars that first-timers can afford. You don't jump into this hobby at the Duesenberg level, you start with something affordable and get your feet wet first, and good dealers will be a partner in the adventure.

I sold this 1966 Mustang coupe to a 16-year-old kid who wanted to get into the hobby somehow. Six cylinders, automatic, power steering, and pretty clean underneath. Still needs some TLC but the basics are good. I sold it to him for $8500 and everyone went home happy. He drives it every day now and stops by the shop often. He's got an AACA membership complements of Harwood Motors and will be joining us in our caravan to the big Arthritis Foundation show in Columbus in July. A new hobbyist was born and I can still pay my bills.

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Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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