by Head of Acquisitions Richard Wrightson
As you can imagine, here at The Classic Motor Hub our team has handled a huge number of different cars and motorcycles over the years and a big part of our job is to advise clients on how best to sell their vehicle and the aspects that affect the chances of a successful sale being achieved.
We are offered cars on almost a daily basis, a large number of which, I am sad to say, we have to turn down. This isn’t because we are horrible car dealers who enjoy saying ‘No’ all the time but simply because the car or the owners expectations don’t meet our criteria. So what is our criteria? There isn’t an exact science to it as every single car is different in so many ways but we can boil it down to three categories that are important to get right: Price, Condition and Provenance.
Over the next three articles (which won’t be as epic as my recent ‘Long Read’), I will explain why these aspects and the lengths we go to are so important. To be clear, this is not a guide on how to sell your car privately; it will sound contrived, but putting your car for sale on the best possible platform (i.e. The Classic Motor Hub!) will have the single largest effect on the chances of selling your car. We can all have a top chef’s recipe but it doesn’t mean it will taste the same, in fact, after the hassle of doing it yourself, you’ll sometimes wish you had just left it to the experts!
Arriving at the right and, more importantly, fair price is the key to selling any car or motorcycle, be it a Morris Minor or Ferrari 275 GTB/4. As simple as this may seem, it can often be the biggest thing that private sellers and even some dealers get wrong when it comes to pricing classics. When we are offered cars and motorcycles we do an extensive amount of research looking at other cars on the market, recent and historical auction results and most importantly, using the extensive knowledge of our team and contacts to establish what the vehicle should really be selling for, be they on the market or a private sale. We boil each car down to its salient points, good and bad and then deduce where it fits in the price range of the market. It is very easy for any owner to believe that their car is the best example of its kind and therefore ask the top price but we have to take the emotion out of it and look at the facts.
What people are asking for and what these motor vehicles are really selling for can be two very different things and it takes a lot of time and research to deduce exactly where a specific car fits best, something that I will go into more detail on in the rest of the series.
The internet can be an amazing thing but it can also confuse matters, especially our perception of pricing classics. For example, we were recently offered a stunning Jaguar E-Type Series 1 Coupé. The owner was looking for offers in the region of £150,000 and having assessed the market, there were plenty being offered for in excess of £180,000, so it was hardly an unreasonable figure. However, with our knowledge of what we had recently achieved coupled with other market data including auction results, we were able to show that the average price actually being paid currently was closer to £125,000. It wasn’t exactly music to his ears but because we had shown our working (my maths teacher would be so proud!) he understood the figures and respected our approach. By dealing in clear facts and being open with our clients it is much easier for us to manage expectation and actually achieve what we say we are going to do, wherever possible.
Pricing strategy must also take into account time frame. If another car or motorcycle has arrived in The Hub Showroom that you desperately want but you need to sell something first to fund it, then we advise clients to lower their sights and price their car or motorcycle as competitively as possible. The other option is to discuss a part exchange, which leads me nicely on to one of a dealer’s biggest bugbears, part exchange/trade values.
I will prepare myself for an onslaught of differing opinions on this one but I feel compelled to put the record straight, so bear with me. If the aforementioned dream motor comes to market and you have the opportunity to part exchange something then lucky you! No waiting around for your car to sell and the worry that you could lose your chance of pouncing upon this new toy. However, this path of least resistance and maximum convenience must come at a price.
We often hear people say that they are offering us full retail price so they should be getting the same for their part exchange, which is simply untrue, and to be honest, unfair. When we take a car in part exchange, it is often a car we aren’t necessarily looking for or, at times, even want. We are taking a multitude of risks (mostly financial) to get a deal done fairly and hope the transaction can be completed further down the line as a result. More often than you may think, the car or motorcycle will need work to bring them up to a retail standard; plenty of tread on 20 year old tyres is not acceptable to a retail buyer.
People buy from a reputable classic car showroom such as The Classic Motor Hub with the peace of mind that the motor vehicle has been inspected and assessed, is in the best-possible condition and they have a reliable point of contact should any problem arise. It is essential and often expensive to make sure our stock is up to scratch. After preparation they need to be photographed, marketed, insured and will then take up a valuable slot on our showroom floor. We then need to allow for a reasonable time frame and not only cover our costs up to that point but also make a profit, otherwise it simply wouldn’t be good business. Most importantly though, we have to put our name to the vehicle which will become part of its history and will be a reflection of us for years to come.
Another thing often forgotten is that the profit we might make selling a part exchange probably represents a large proportion of the profit on the deal in which we originally took the part exchange. The same can be said of trade prices. If you ask a dealer to bid on your car, it may offer you an almost immediate sale of your car with zero hassle and no come back, as a result the price offered must reflect this. Whilst we always endeavour to be as fair as possible, just go on a certain website that offers to buy any car and you’ll see what I mean!
Having said all of the above, the old adage ‘A car is worth what someone is willing to pay for it’ does still ring true, therefore, we always encourage prospective buyers to make offers and we can present them to the seller. Here at The Hub classic, vintage and high-performance cars and motorcycles are our passion and with many years of combined experience and specialists with industry-leading knowledge we are best-placed to value fairly for both buyers and sellers.
Now that you have a greater understanding of pricing classics, vintage and high-performance vehicles, be sure to read the follow-up where I will be discussing how we take into account a vehicle’s condition to establish how it fits in with our stock profile and strategy.
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