We all like classic cars right? Of course you do, you wouldn’t be reading this or using clasiq.com if you didn’t! But, and here’s the thing, a classic car doesn’t need to be a money pit…
You see, according to Hagerty, the average ‘affordable classic’ has increased in value by around $10,000 in the last 12 years. Not a bad return right? It’s certainly more than you would get simply keeping your cash in the bank. We want to give you the inside track on how you can find and flip a classic. So we asked some experts and our community for their advice.
Do some research. You need to find a car which is in demand and evaluate an upward trend in its value. This sounds like an obvious piece of advice but if you have seen what seems to be a bargain on an older car there could be a very good reason. It may be a dud or quite simply there is no demand for that make or model of vehicle.
We recommend that you don’t restrict yourself to one specific make, model, or year at this stage either. The point about the economics of the classic car market is that of, well, economics. It’s supply and demand. The greater the demand and the shorter the supply of the vehicle, the greater the return.
First of all, if you’re going to make money from a classic car you’ll need a car. Of course there are tons of options for you on the web to buy a classic (including websites like this - Clasiq). However, there are also many other places you could begin your search and all it takes is a little imagination.
We’ve probably all seen YouTube videos about incredible barn finds. It seems strange that a car could be abandoned and stored out of sight for years but it happens. Projects can get put on the backburner and a great car can simply get forgotten about.
Once you have located the likely looking classic simply get in touch with the owner of the land. Of course, this process can be a little hit and miss to say the least. So here are some more conventional ways of locating your classic.
A word of warning here - a car that has been covered for a good length of time means that a lot of moisture can get into the cab. Look out for the mold!
If there’s one thing we have learned here at Clasiq so far it is that classic car owners love to meet (and talk) about their cars. The web is full of classic car clubs. For instance a quick Google search for the term ‘Classic Car Clubs in Florida’ yields over 18 million results. It’s impossible to guess how many shows there are in the country each year. The one thing we can guarantee is that with a bit of research you should be able to find what you’re looking for no problem.
So do your research. If you have isolated that you want to buy a 1969 ‘mustang, find out where the next show is near you and go and talk to people. Not only will this help you potentially locate where to buy your next car from, it will also give you a wealth of knowledge about how to restore and where to buy parts for it. Plus you will meet some great people.
A famous business consultant Steuart Henderson Britt once said: “Doing business without advertising is like winking in the dark. You know you’re doing it but nobody else does.” If you’re in the market for a classic car, you need to tell people.
One route you might want to take here is putting an ad on Craigslist, or even your local paper, telling people you want to buy a classic car, at a fair price for cash. Many people may have a ‘project car’, run out of money and simply now need the cash. Remember your offer to buy their car will provide them with a valuation too. Also, they may not be ready to sell right now, but things can, and do change.
Don’t restrict yourself to looking on classified sites on the web. You can find opportunities anywhere and everywhere. We don’t want to stereotype here but, in our experience, your typical classic car nut will be a man of a certain age. This guy’s hobby might have been clogging up space in his garage. If one day, you notice a car under a tarp, you could do worse than ask the owner what’s under there and if it’s for sale — don’t ask, don’t get.
No car, over the age of say 30, will be rust free, unless it has been kept in a museum. If a car is advertised as having ‘zero rust’, this should raise some red flags about the seller. An honest seller, will tell you where the rust is in their ad, and point out to you where there’s the potential for more.
Similarly ‘no dents, no bumps’, should raise an eyebrow. If a car has been driven around for even five years you would expect a few bumps and scratches. Even in a very well kept classic you would expect some work to have taken place on at least one of the panels. Ask the seller where the panel has been filled, this should put them on the spot. The more fills, the more leverage you have when it comes to negotiating a good price.
‘Specific is terrific’, you’ve seen the ad, it looks like the car you want. The next thing is to call the seller and list your exact requirements e.g. ‘I’m looking for a ‘68 Nova in excellent condition with less than 10,000 miles on the clock, is your car the one I need?’. If there is any hesitation when you ask this question or if the seller is not 100% upfront in any way, this might not be the car for you. Believe us, you can save yourself a lot of time by being direct.
Let’s face it, used car salesmen have a bad reputation for a reason. Unfortunately, this can also be true of an independent car seller. Listen, you’re not the first guy to think that flipping a classic might be a good way to make money and an ‘honest Joe’ might be flipping several classics a year. Here’s some important stuff which you need to be aware of.
The car looks good and you’re going to make an offer. Is the vehicle in the seller’s name? If it isn’t — walk away. The car may be great but it will cost you A LOT at the DMV to unpick this mess. By the way, there’s plenty more information to be found on buying a classic in our ultimate guide to it.
You found a likely looking car, you spoke to the guy and he sounds legit. When you get there you ask some questions (remember specific is terrific, right?), does he know the answers or is it all sounding a little vague? You’ve got to ask yourself, does this guy even own this car ?.
When you find your potential classic to flip, you need to try and know whether it has as many original parts as possible. Inevitably, if you have decided to spend time and money on restoring a classic you will need to use some modern parts (a 40-year-old spark plug, won’t last for long) but the more integral components that are original will help inflate the list price of your classic.
Also, if you are restoring, make sure you get yourself an original manual (these should be relatively easy to source on eBay) and, when (not if) you repaint make sure you use a color or shade that would have been found on the original. Remember there are different shades of black, for instance, and if you want to command top dollar for your classic, it’s all about the details. You should also keep in mind that things like a service history (some gaps are to be expected in a classic) and mileage will also have a bearing on the final price, like with any car of a certain vintage. If you want more information on classic car restoration, you could do worse than checking out our ultimate guide vague? You’ve got to ask yourself, does this guy even own this car ?.
Like selling any second-hand car there are several boxes you need to tick to make sure you get a fair price (and hopefully a profit) and the buyer ends up with the classic of their dreams. Get the car inspected by a mechanic. Fix any minor details so that the car can be advertised as in ‘immaculate’ condition.
Price appropriately, you win some, you lose some. If a renovation has cost more than you thought, you can’t be expected to pass this on to the buyer. Research the market and price slightly higher, so there is room to haggle.
Obviously, the reverse of buying is selling, so don’t be a jerk and see above. Have you got the title? Have you been clear in your ad? If a potential buyer asks you a question, and you don’t know the answer, don’t try and wing it. Honesty, in this market, is always the best policy. People who buy \classics do a lot of research and will know what to look for and the questions to ask and the red flags that should send them packing.
Photos, photos, photos! If you’re listing a car on a website don’t take some shaky snaps from your iPhone. Invest in a decent digital camera and take some high res snaps of every part of the car and yes, even the rusty parts. Why? Because you want to be the honest guy and not a jerk. Remember, we are part of a growing and amazing community and what goes around comes around.
Next, pick the right time to sell. As a rule, the run up to Christmas is a bad time to market a large purchase. Most fellas are going to be more concerned with buying little Jonny’s new bike than spending thousands of bucks on a classic Buick. South West coast or the south excluded, winter, generally may not be a great time to sell, especially if the car your selling is a convertible. People generally would prefer to spend time in their garage restoring and maintaining or driving around when the weather is a little warmer.
Don’t try and sell your spare parts with the car. You may have spent a considerable amount of time, effort and dollars in renovating the classic but this may be your dream but the guy your selling to could have a totally different vision, you may be a purist, but he may be a little more ‘pimp my ride’ — it takes all sorts.
If you’re listing a car on Craigslist or in the local paper, please be careful. People who have nice cars tend to have nice houses. Remember, selling a car is a two-way thing. The seller will be asking you questions, but feel free to ask them questions too. If the answers to your questions don’t ring true, be cautious about inviting a stranger around to your house. They’ll want to start the car, maybe even take it for a drive — use your imagination and consider what could happen. We would say this, but you could do worse than listing your classic car for sale on Clasiq to avoid some of this risk.
Only accept a form of payment that you are happy with, you’re in control at this point. If a buyer offers you a check, insist on cleared funds in your account so you know it’s not fake. Digital transfers by electronic banking have become more common now – if the seller offers to pay by this method, ensure that you see cleared funds in your account by calling the bank before the buyer takes the vehicle away.
Different cars appreciate different rates. Do your research, check market values and think about the market conditions of not only the country but also the economy in your town and state, especially if you are listing for a local sale. Like any investment the value can go up as well as down, so only invest what you can afford to lose.