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Seeking advice - how to sell a classic car


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I have a couple of American convertibles I want to sell, a 56 Tbird and a 76 Eldorado. Both in decent condition in my garage in PA, but not started in a decade. I'm trying to figure out whether to put money into fixing them up or to sell them with minimal improvement. Is there such a thing as a car consultant who could appraise them and tell me which way to go, reccomend a good restorer and seller, etc.? TIA, any thoughts appreciated! :-)

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8 hours ago, mike6024 said:

Get them running. Get a mechanic.

 

That is good advice.  Your cars are modern enough

that many competent local mechanics will have the

knowledge to work on them.  And when you go to

sell them, a car that runs and rides properly will be

much easier to sell, since the mechanical problems

will no longer be unknowns to a prospective buyer.

 

I wouldn't fix them up cosmetically, other than cleaning.

Paint, chrome, etc. will almost assuredly require

more money than you will recoup.  There are no

"consultants" that you describe, that I know of, 

other than fellow car fans or club members who 

are knowledgeable.

 

Hemmings Motor News (magazine and its accompanying

website) is a place where serious car fans look for 

collectible cars.  When seeking to value your cars,

feel free to ask on this forum, or use a good price guide.

Don't look at a mere asking prices for antique cars,

because (from many dealers and some optimistic

private parties) they may be double a car's actual worth.

 

All the best to you with your cars!

 

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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41 minutes ago, mike6024 said:

Get them running. Get a mechanic.

Probably good advice! A few dollars could make the cars much easier to sell. However, beyond that, almost every dollar spent MIGHT increase the sellable value by about thirty to fifty cents. And many hobbyists would much prefer buying a project that has not been messed with much beyond getting it out to be seen.

 

As for consultants? Appraisers and the like? Be careful. There are some good ones out there. There are also a lot that are clueless about the hobby, and even worse about what is desirable and values. Met too many of those over the years.

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EXTREMELY important question : How well did the cars run when last used ? Did they have any problems or issues which laid them up ? Yes, getting them running is the best return on investment in most cases. Deep cleaning and true detailing is a must. Posting several pictures inside and out here will also be of great help in order for us to best advise you. Welcome to our friendly group. Very glad you found us. I have been the happy owner of several ‘75 and ‘76 Eldorado Convertibles.     -    Carl 

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 The car must be running, clean and accessible for viewing if you expect to sell it for its true value.

 It is hard to fall in love with a car stuffed in a small garage that hasn't had a bath in years.

 Most people can not see a diamond in the rough and will pass. It is normal for a buyer to take 4 to 5 thousand off of the asking price if the engine is not running (just in case).

 

 I had a car stored away for years that I wanted to sell.

 I towed it out of its dark cave and washed it,

 The vinyl interior looked a pretty shabby so I scrubbed it and it came out like new. the end result was that I fell in love with it and completely restored it for myself!

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Some good advice already bestowed here. If you can get a good mechanic involved to get them at least running, do so. It will make them easier to sell, and maybe frankly easier for you to make a decision about what you really want to do with them. Maybe you rediscover you really enjoy driving one or both and make a decision to keep them. Offering non runners will bring out real low ball opportunists looking to beat you up on price and score a steal.

 

Your cars are not remarkably rare, so finding good baseline intelligence about their potential value on the net should not be too hard. Pay attention to how your Bird is optioned, as the right equipment or options on that car can add value and desirability. You can look at auction results easily through RM, Mecum, Barrett, GAA, etc, and there are about a half dozen pricing guides out there that aren't the bible but again can offer a baseline idea about what you may have. When looking guides, auction results and what else is on the market for sale today be honest with yourself about the condition of your cars relative to what you are seeing out there. 

 

I'm in the appraisal business (not in your area) and would caution you to be careful if you choose to involve an appraiser. Good ones can be few and far between. You may not need one based on the situation you've described at the moment. Once they're cleaned up and running, if you are not confident in your abilities to assess what you have but still wish to sell, then by all means hire one, but ask alot of questions about background, experience, and qualifications before proceeding. Insist on seeing relevant samples of their work before hiring. Never hire an appraiser who will write an appraisal based on photos, professional appraisers will insist on seeing the car in person, as they should. Also be aware of dealers or flippers 'moonlighting' as 'appraisers' who may give you as low a number as possible and then follow it up with an offer to buy. It happens. Run. :)

 

if you decide to sell you have a few options, sell it yourself, run it through an auction or hire a consignor dealer to market and sell for you. Pros and cons to each method, so educate yourself a little on the ins and outs beforehand. 

 

First step, as others have said, make them run.

 

 

 

 

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The reason you are getting the advice to "get the car running" is that most buyers will assume the worst with a non running car and offer accordingly.   Cars that have not been run in 10 years typically need a LOT of mechanical sorting.

 

Just to set your expectations,   unless the 76 Eldo is a Bicentennial edition with 9k original miles and perfect,  don't expect a lot of money.   Nice shape and decent miles running 10k-20k.

 

On the T-Bird,  same thing.

 

If the cars are not running,   divide by 2.

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Decide how much time and effort you want to exert.  Do you want a quick sale with little effort?  Call a dealer and ask them what their offer is.  This will be wholesale.  Less money and less hassle.  
 

 

Does getting close to “market price” matter to you?   Clean them up and get them running so that a prospective buyer can drive them down the road.  This will likely take a lot of effort and you will be hassled by many tire kickers. Most collector cars take months to sell at “market price.”  Some sell quickly and the market has been on an upswing over the last year.  So it might be worth it to you. 
 

 

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All good advice, I have no dog in the fight and not sure if its proper to name a business, mods can delete if they feel need be.  If you are in eastern PA, there is a large broker in Morgantown. Classic Auto Mall. They sell on consignment. Never dealt with them, never even been there but according to their web they have a LOT of cars. They may be able to help. 

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Of course you will probably get more money and make the sale easier, if the car's are running and has brakes. However, 10 years is a long time for a car to sit. If you do hire a mechanic/shop you will need to decide how involved you want them to get. There is picture on this site of the innards of a gas tank that sat for ten years, it's downright nasty. The old gas turned to a rusty sludge. After sitting for 10 years your mechanic can go from replacing the carb to fuel pump to fuel lines to gas tank. He can then start with the master cylinder, brake lines, wheel cylinders etc. Get where I'm going? You can spend a lot of money just trying to make the car's run and be safe. You might end up spending half of what the Eldorado is worth. Tough call!

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The value of those cars is directly proportional to the number of times you went out and looked at them, wiped the dust off, thought about getting them going, and really enjoying them. Plus $1,000 per year in enjoyment, minus $1,000 per year in deterioration.

Recommissioning a car that has set for 10 years can easily cost $3,000 to $5,000. To make it a stand out car at a show or cruise night more like $10,000.

 

For anyone who has had a car sitting for two years or more it makes good food for thought.

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Correct me if my assumptions are incorrect but if you haven't touched the cars in 10 years your interests have shifted for whatever reason.  I am also going to assume your standard of living is not related to these sales.  If the above is true I would list them on BAT as "Projects" without a reserve and take the money and run for all the reasons outlined in many of the above posts.  This would require having the cars detailed and professionally photographed.  I am rehabbing a Mercedes 107 that sat for 12 years and the process is going to cost 5-7K.  This was my wife's favorite and she wants it running again, Nuff said.

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OK agree 100% with "get it running and driving" is the only way to verify not only the engine but also the accessories. A 75 Eldo is assumed to have AC and if not running for a decade I'd assume a minumum of $1k to repair just the AC. Personally I'd add value for the fuel injection is running, and take away if not.

A Maroney (window) sticker is a big plus as are service manuals. Bicentennial edition is a plus. OTOH is over 5,000lbs and requires a long garage

 

Also GM plastic (e.g. fender extensions) in the 70s was not very durable and in PA rust (never sleeps) would be a big concern as would a hardened dash pad.

 

Bottom line expect a $5k-$10k hit for "not running" unless you find a patsy.

 

T'bird is a middle year and engine/transmission/hardtop means A Lot.

 

Both are best as drivers and not show cars unless exceptional.

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50 minutes ago, Robert G. Smits said:

Correct me if my assumptions are incorrect but if you haven't touched the cars in 10 years your interests have shifted for whatever reason.  I am also going to assume your standard of living is not related to these sales.  If the above is true I would list them on BAT as "Projects" without a reserve and take the money and run for all the reasons outlined in many of the above posts.  This would require having the cars detailed and professionally photographed.  I am rehabbing a Mercedes 107 that sat for 12 years and the process is going to cost 5-7K.  This was my wife's favorite and she wants it running again, Nuff said.

 

 

I agree with the above.............

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BAT can be a bit picky about what cars it will list. If not running it generally needs to be a reasonably unusual or often sought after by collectors car. The Bird would probably qualify, the Eldorado might be iffy.

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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22 minutes ago, 1912Staver said:

BAT can be a bit picky about what cars it will list

I agree 100%  If not accepted I would rotate to CL or FB marketplace and get it over with!!  Recently sold a 96 Dodge 3500 with the desirable 12 valve that hadn't run in 12 years.  It was gone in three days and out of my hair and I didn't even wash the filth off of it.  I had three buyers interested and a 19 y/o kid showed up with a trailer and 6K.  Gone in 30 minutes.  Rehabbing that truck would have taken 3 months out of my life for a possible 4-6K

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1 hour ago, Robert G. Smits said:

Correct me if my assumptions are incorrect but if you haven't touched the cars in 10 years your interests have shifted for whatever reason.  I am also going to assume your standard of living is not related to these sales.  If the above is true I would list them on BAT as "Projects" without a reserve and take the money and run for all the reasons outlined in many of the above posts.  This would require having the cars detailed and professionally photographed.  I am rehabbing a Mercedes 107 that sat for 12 years and the process is going to cost 5-7K.  This was my wife's favorite and she wants it running again, Nuff said.

 

This.   BAT seems to be bringing out all the checkbooks lately.  No reserve auctions really cause the money to fly.

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I think buyers really like the format compared to say ebay.  Quite a few cars from my general area have sold on BATover the last couple of years at prices that local buyers are unable to match. Often by a significant amount.

 Like I said a year or two ago , collector cars are leaving my area ; generally to the U.S. but also other destinations, in substantial numbers.  A perfect storm of relatively low local incomes, a very high cost of living, and a relatively low value currency.

The value of the Canadian $ is getting better . But the worsening cost of living is negating any relief the strengthening $ is providing. Cost of housing is in a total speculative bubble , 30 % or more price increase almost right across Canada over the last 6 months alone. And lots of covid inspired hikes in basics like food over the same time frame.

I am not looking for any more cars at present, but I do need to build a new shop building . Most building material prices are at least 100 % more expensive than just 1 year ago. Just a bit of inflation ? I think I am going to be working out of a leaky shed for some time to come.

 Many would be, local hobby car owners are left in the dust.

 

Greg

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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Sounds about right. Noticed a "bottoming out" for class 3-4 (drivers) in June-August 2020 and has been going back up since.

 

Long time ago (probably in the last century) noted that you can raise a class 4 to a class 3 fairly reasonable. 3 to 2 is just the price of a small house, and 2-1 is not if you have to ask. About that time I added class 6 to John's 1-5: a car you pay more for parts than the whole thing.

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What are your expectations? 

It could be as simple as parking then out front with a for sale sign in the window.  Post a few pictures and the advice you get may be a little more tailored to your specific situation. 

Terry

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I just gave away a Reatta.  Not because there was anything wrong with the car, but it had a lot of minor things to be done. Clean & lube the windows channels, lube the locks, fix loose trim, replace a bad speaker, etc....

 

Reatta's are a nice car, but is no longer my greatest area of interest. 

 

If it does not have wood wheels, kind of not interested unless they are my Wife's cars.  Then it is important!

 

The person that got the Reatta was extremely happy to have the car.  I look at it as a win-win for both of us.  I just got a bunch more time to work on my old cars and the recipient was very happy to have a classic car.

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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19 minutes ago, Larry Schramm said:

The person that got the Reatta was extremely happy to have the car.  I look at it as a win-win for both of us.  I just got a bunch more time to work on my old cars and the recipient was very happy to have a classic car.

Larry- Kudos to you on that one, what a great way to promote the hobby...

 

Dave

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13 hours ago, padgett said:

One post, no response, typical.

 

The original poster has been back a few times,

but he hasn't answered any questions, posted

pictures, or provided more specifics that will

enable us to help him.  I hope he will.

 

Yid4cc, this is a DISCUSSION forum.  There is a

lot of knowledge here to assist you!

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Not sure taking a car to a show is the easiest for someone that just wants to get rid of them.  

Value sight unseen:

1976 Eldorado- $2500

1956 T Bird - $9500

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8 hours ago, TAKerry said:

Value sight unseen:

1976 Eldorado- $2500

1956 T Bird - $9500

 

Reminds me of a famous quote:

 

 

The real question is listed above- "What is your expectation?" That's the key. I have things that I have cherish for the past 10 years, yet not used. I have other things that have just been sitting around. Point to either example, ask me how much I want for it, I will shoot you a price in two seconds.

 

The most problematic sales for me have been when the fair price I asked seamed low to the buyer. They have jumped on it thinking they were stealing it. Then they find out they didn't get it at the "gloatable" price and have their little fits.

 

I have sold two cars in the last three weeks, marginally collectible and within a  couple of hundred bucks of the asking price. Two more to go to meet my herd thinning goal this year. Selling is fun for me, but I know the market and am entertained by the personalities. I also sold a scissors lift. The buyer asked if I was OK with him coming in the evening. I asked if he was bringing the cash. He said "I have to. I don't have that many returnable beer cans". I told him there was no way my wife would stand there and put that many cans in the machine. I hung up the phone, looked across the table at my wife and said "Well, the lift is sold".

Selling is a sport.

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Don't tempt me, a 76 Eldo 'vert for pocket change ? Would only need to get it running & to Lorton VA (Autotrain)

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Ok, wow great info, thanks so much all. Didn't expect so many replies, or any. This has totally helped me decide what to do. "almost every dollar spent MIGHT increase the sellable value by about thirty to fifty cents."- That's what I wanted to know. 🙂 Also BAT... Bring a Trailer! News to me. Both cars have about 75k miles, one owner, the tbird was rehabbed in 1990 to show quality, the Eldorado not. It was a weird custom job from the factory in 76 where everything was red. So get the tbird running, probably BAT for the Eldo. As for a hobby, I'm getting into woodworking, for which I need a few grand and some garage space. 😉 Thanks!

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Means the eldo is probably not a bicentennial edition, triple red was quite common on GM cars in the '70s. I shouldn't but would appreciate some pictures, have always liked that series of Caddy. Have a CTS and two Allantes now. Don't mind the FWD.

 

Any car is worth more if running, a 76 Cad even more so because of all the mechanical and electrical accessories. Already know quite a bit about how the top works, GM used the same basic top on all big cars for years.

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2 hours ago, padgett said:

Means the Eldo is probably not a bicentennial edition...

 

You're right, Padgett, but I'll add "definitely not" a Bicentennial

edition, which were the last 200 made for 1976, and all were 

white with white interiors.  The odds of it being Bicentennial

were 200 in 14,000--that's 1.45%, and very slim.

 

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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About the same as having EFI. Thought they were white/white, thank you for confirming. Still might be interested, is my kind of Great American Land Barge. Could fly up, inspect, flush and get it running, and head for the Autotrain (assuming that a 224" length is OK, need to check)

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The T-Bird may be worth putting on BAT for auction. But that takes some work. You need to get it running well, and take a thorough set of pictures, including up on a lift photographing under the floors and the rockers to show there is not rust, or document any minimal rust. Also you are supposed to post a video showing how it drives, and how the engine sounds running. So you may need some help with these things but it may be worth your while.

 

Here is a link to one being auctioned   1956 Ford Thunderbird

 

1956 Ford Thunderbird

CURRENT BID: $21,600

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Would a BAT ad or Hemmings listing be more effective? Seems like both sites have a large audience. Now Hemmings has their new auction thing going on as well.

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5 minutes ago, alsancle said:

Comparing BAT to Hemmings is like comparing  Marylin Monroe to Phyllis Diller.


 

Your forgetting that everyone who likes old cars today is rather eccentric.............so many here would probably pick Phyllis! 😏

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