January 26, 2020

Classic car info, discussion, and classified ads

The classic car market has changed a lot over the years, and stories of people who got their first muscle car for fifty bucks are pretty much ancient history by today’s standards. Classic car prices have skyrocketed over the past few years, due in part to the “reality TV effect” and in part to the baby boomers who are ready to downsize now that kids are grown and out of the house. Sellers obviously want to get as much as possible for their cars, and buyers obviously want to get the best deal possible, so where is the middle ground? Keep reading to learn what I discovered about today’s classic car market and how Classic Cars Online US can help.

Tips for Buying or Selling a Classic Car: 1958 Lincoln Continental Capri

Tips for Buying or Selling a Classic Car image courtesy of Pixabay

The Reality TV Effect on Classic Car Sales

If you watch TV at all and you’re a car enthusiast, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve seen one of the many reality TV shows that feature classic cars. That means you’ve also probably seen some pretty raggedy old cars go for thousands of dollars and some really pristine restorations and customizations go for multi-thousands of dollars – and so have all of the other buyers and sellers in the classic car market.

This is where The Reality TV Effect kicks in and creates challenges for old car buyers and sellers.

Potential sellers suddenly think of that old rusty car in the barn or back behind the shed and decide, “Hey, $20,000 would be pretty handy right about now. And, there goes that car, listed for sale on an auction site or posted on an online classified ad, like the ones featured here on the site. The thing is, is it really going to sell with that high price tag on it? Maybe, if the right buyer wants it enough, or if it’s a super rare and desirable model, but realistically, probably not.

Potential buyers, on the other hand, see these same shows and they think about their budgets and the reality of their finances – and they end up with the feeling that their dream of owning a sweet ride like the one on the show is never going to happen. Then maybe, just out of curiosity and a bit of hopefulness, they check out the prices on eBay or some other auction site and browse around through some online classic car classified ads, and they see the listed prices and give up on the dream.

So, where’s the middle ground?

  • What the sellers don’t initially see is that first, reality TV is FAKE even though the word “reality” is used to describe the genre, and two, those other cars just like theirs that are listed at exorbitant prices don’t usually actually sell for those prices.
  • What the potential buyers don’t see, is that – again – for the most part, the cars they want aren’t actually selling with any regularity at the prices they’re seeing.
  • What often happens is that sellers lower the opening price a bit at a time, until a buyer finally takes the bait, but a lot of potential buyers give up and drop out of the market long before they ever see the prices begin to equalize.
  • Tire kickers also happen… meaning that people bid or make an offer on the cars thinking maybe they can swing it, then back out of the deal leaving the seller to start all over at square one.
  • Or, sellers decide if they can’t get what the car is worth, according to their fave reality TV show’s example, they will just keep the car and let it rot behind the shed or in the barn.

The Impact of Baby Boomers on Classic Car Prices

According to Car and Driver, the classic car trend that’s related to baby boomers, is that baby boomers are trying to unload their classic cars, creating a crash in the classic car market. (This is actually the opposite of what I expected – I thought I would find that they had expendable cash and were driving prices higher – but not so!)

That sounds like good news for buyers, right? Not necessarily! The boomers selling their classic rides are also operating under The Reality TV Effect. That means, yes, the cars are dropping into the marketplace, but only at the sky-high prices very few people are actually willing or able to pay.

Tie this to the fact that the classic car market is, according to Hagerty Indices for the classic car market and  CNBC, decelerating, though prices remain high: when The Reality TV Effect and The Baby Boomer Effect collide in the classic car market, and this creates a huge gap between expectations and reality, and a lot of frustration for both buyers and sellers.

3 Simple Ideas for Selling Classic Cars Online

When you’re ready to sell your classic car, you want to get the best price possible for it, you want it to sell a reasonable time period so you can get your money, and you want to avoid the frustration of dealing with tire kickers and having to lower your prices over and over again.

  • What’s it really worth? We recommend getting started with a professional valuation of your classic car, and as a side note – that’s a service we provide through this site if you’re interested.
  • How many people will see it? The more people who see your ad, the better chance you have of getting a good price for it, and listing here on the site plus social media promotion is also a service we provide, so if you want to know more, just ask or check out our Services Page.
  • Get great photos: This is especially important when selling a car over the internet. If you’re asking people to buy your car without actually seeing it first, make sure the pictures you share are clear and plentiful, and provide plenty of details.

3 Suggestions for Buying Classic Cars Online

When you’re ready to buy a classic car, you want it to be in the condition described so you know exactly what you’re getting, at a fair price, and just like the buyers, you want a smooth, frustration-free transaction.

  • If you’re shopping on an auction site, check the seller’s rating, read the description, check the photos closely, and ask any questions you have before bidding.
  • If you’re getting the car financed, get pre-qualified before bidding.
  • Check around to see what similar cars have sold for in recent months. Be sure to consider condition, provenance, and the popularity of the model you’re considering, because, for example, a car that belonged to a celebrity is going to go higher than a car that belonged to a non-celeb.

By Laure Justice

Here at Classic Cars Online US, we’re working to build a better way for classic car buyers and sellers to connect. Our goal is to be that sweet spot – that middle ground – where the deals are fair for both the buyers and sellers – and where the transactions go smoothly for both parties. 

Sellers, if all you want is a place to list your car for sale, hop on over to our classifieds page and we’ll get you set up with a free basic ad that gets attention and runs for one week. If you want some help with pricing and promoting your car, we have packages and professional assistance available through the Our Services page to help you get your car sold without all the extra frustration of dealing with tire kickers and guessing at a price based on something you saw on TV. 

Buyers, let us know what you’re looking for and we’ll get your message out to our readers and social media accounts to help you find your dream car. 

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