Hagerty’s Guide to Selling Your Car At Auction

by John Mayhead
24 October 2016 3 min read
Hagerty’s Guide to Selling Your Car At Auction
The H&H classic car auctions Duxford Sale

Selling a car at auction can be a quick and effective way of selling a classic car. Put the right car in the right auction and you could get a higher price than selling your car privately or through a dealer.

But many owners are wary of selling a classic car at auction. They may be worried about the complexity of the sale, of selling the car for less than it is worth, and concerned that they will lose control of the selling process. Here’s Hagerty’s guide to successfully selling a classic car at auction.

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Tip 1: Set A Sensible Reserve
Do your homework, and be realistic about your car’s value. A great place to start is the Hagerty Price Guide, but also check magazine ads and online classified sites such as Everyone thinks their car is special, but try to get an objective view of its real value- a good auction house or owners’ club will be able to help. But above all, this is your decision: if you don’t want the car to go for less than a certain figure, then stick to your guns and maintain your reserve; just be prepared to bring the car home again if it doesn’t find a buyer.

Tip 2: Make it Look Good
Your car will attract bidders if it looks good in the catalogue and in the auction hall. Make sure it is clean and polished, inside and out, and don’t forget the engine bay. Some auction houses offer an engine detailing service- for a few hundred pounds you may consider this a good investment, if your car is of value. Alternatively, a roll of blue paper and an appropriate cleaner could make a huge amount of difference.

Tip 3: Make it Saleable
It is a fact that many of the bidders at classic car auctions are dealers. They want something that looks nice, and that they can sell quickly for a profit. If you’re aiming at this market, make your car as saleable as possible. Put on a new MOT, and maybe get any advisories addressed. Replace trim items like damaged hubcaps, badges or mouldings. Replace any ‘owner additions’ and try to return it as close as possible to original: I once bought a Triumph Herald convertible that had a plywood ‘tonneau’ over the back seats- not everyone’s cup of tea. Finally, and it sounds simple, but make sure the bonnet and boot releases work.

Tip 4: Tell the Story
Many people who buy classic cars are purchasing not just a machine, but a piece of history that has its own story. Present this in a nice format using photographs, bills and any of the car’s original paperwork such as old log books or the owner’s manual. Also, research the history of your car if you can, and include anything you find. A fat history file is a great thing to find at an auction, and there is nothing worse than asking for the paperwork, to be presented with an empty box file.

Tip 5: Do Your Own Marketing
Classic car auction houses will market your car as part of their services, but you can help by spreading the word that your car is coming up for sale. You could use owners’ clubs, online forums or social media, or just by telling friends who are into the same cars as you. Remember that once a car is consigned to auction you may be liable for commission if it is sold before the sale, but hey- the car will be gone and you’ll have money in your pocket.

Finally, we asked H&H Classic Auctions for their tips. Nick Lumby, Senior Car Specialist H&H Classics replied: “Try to make the car’s appearance as appealing as possible, paying attention to the interior and engine bay as well the exterior and ensure any supporting documentation, including invoices and correspondence, is neatly presented in a history file. Be realistic about its value and make sure we are able to accurately describe the car by providing as much information as possible on its history and condition before the sale.”

H&H Classic Auctions are now accepting entries for their Donnington Park sale on 15th November 2016. The first ten consignments quoting ‘Hagerty Newsletter’ will be given two tickets each for their Chateau Impney Christmas Gala Dinner, with special guest speaker Chris Barrie. To consign, or for more details, contact H&H at or telephone +44 (0) 1925 210035.

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