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Sell or Keep: Used Classic Cars, Here’s the Decision

Sell or Keep: Used Classic Cars, Here’s the Decision

A classic car can be considered an investment, but there will come a time when you start to think if it is still worth keeping. After all, maintaining a classic car can be more expensive than a regular car. Now you are in a dilemma, to sell or keep used classic cars, here’s the decision.

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The decision would depend on several factors. This article discusses different situations you may be into, and then we’ll try to answer if it is worth selling or keeping your used classic car.

Should I sell my classic car?

But first, you must determine if your car is really a classic. There is no definite definition of what a classic car is, just some general guidelines. The car’s age is a main factor in determining if a car is a classic. Any car that’s at least two decades old might be considered as a classic, but age is not the only factor. There should also be enough interest in it that people would want it to be a part of their collection. What makes a classic car is a combination of age and collectability value. 


For example, an M series BMW from the 1990s can be considered a classic car since there are people who are interested in restoring and collecting them. Whereas a Chevy Citation from the 1980s is not qualified as a classic car because no one has shown interest in collecting or restoring it. 


There are also special edition cars manufactured in small quantities that can be very collectible, but it is not considered a classic since it does not meet the age requirement. 


To find out more about what makes a car a classic and if you should keep it or sell it, click here.

Factors to Consider to Decide If You Should Keep or Sell Your Car

The Investment Factor

Classic cars can be considered an investment by some people. This is actually a wise approach. Your classic car can appreciate its value year after year if you are able to keep it in good shape. If you think of your classic car as an investment, you’d want to keep it as long as you can and only sell it when you want to get the financial benefits of its appreciated value.


The Enjoyment Factor

One important question to ask before deciding to sell or keep your car is, do you still enjoy your classic vehicle? If it’s been years since you have driven or worked on your car, and you do not see that there’s going to be any changes soon, you might as well sell it to someone who will enjoy it more. On the other hand, if you still frequently enjoy your classic car, then why get rid of something you are still enjoying? But there are instances that even if you are enjoying your used classic car, selling it might still be the better option. We’ll discuss this below. 


The Affordability Factor

The next thing you should ask yourself is whether you can still afford to keep your classic car. If your classic car already requires a lot of work to get it in good condition or in good shape, and you currently don’t have the disposable income to spend on maintaining your classic car (or won’t still have enough money in the foreseeable future), perhaps it’s better to sell it to someone who can afford to maintain the classic car. Holding on to a classic car can be expensive. Not to mention insuring it if you want to drive it on the road at least occasionally.


The Life Situation Factor

Our priorities and needs change over time. The classic car you purchased when you’re young may not be as appealing now and may even feel like a burden now that you have more financial obligations. Having a classic car may no longer be practical anymore. You might also need to deal with a big expense such as a home, college and selling your classic car might help cover it. 


The Restoration Factor

If you are still unable to restore your classic car, you need to evaluate whether or not you will ever be able to do the project or have the money to do it. Depending on the condition of the car, you could be facing a huge amount of time and money to do the work. If the car has been with you untouched for many years, what makes you think you will be able to restore it anytime soon? Be honest with yourself so you know what decision to make. 


The Practicality Factor

There are people who would like to use their classic car as one of the options for transportation regularly. There is nothing wrong with that, but you need to know what situation you will get into before making a decision. The older your car, the less features it has in comparison to modern cars. It will not have satellite radio service, integrations with any of your modern devices, and even if it does have a radio chances are you’ll get a bad reception.


If you live in a place where air conditioning is needed, many classic cars do not have one. Modern safety features such traction control, airbags, and anti-lock brakes are not found in a classic car. Keeping a classic car good enough to drive on the road takes more repair and maintenance than most cars, and not all mechanics know how to handle older cars. Taking into consideration the practicality of keeping your classic car can help you decide easier if you should keep or sell it. 


The Inheritance Factor

People inheriting a classic car from a parent who passed on is not unusual. Deciding to sell or keep it can be more difficult to do. This is because that car could have a great deal of sentimental value attached to it. Emotional attachment can be a strong factor, but it’s also important to look at it realistically in terms of how much it is going to cost you to restore it and/or maintain it. If your inherited classic car needs to be restored and you cannot do the job yourself, find a mechanic who can do the restoration and get an estimate for how much it would cost. If it’s beyond what you can afford then it would be better to sell the car than keep it then just let it sit around and deteriorate.

What is the best place to sell a classic car?

Selling classic cars is very different from selling used cars. There is no single best place to sell a classic car, instead you would want to sell or market it in many places to reach a wide range of potential buyers as possible.


Advertising Online

These digital days advertising online is a great way to sell just about everything and that includes your classic car. There are many sites online that specifically cater to classic car sales. While it doesn’t hurt to place a few free ads on mainstream car selling sites, you would want to stick with specialized websites so you can reach the most knowledgeable consumers who will offer you what your car is worth.


Print Advertising

Many classic car magazines offer classified advertising. Of course, you cannot rule out the traditional newspaper advertising. When choosing this route, be sure not to sacrifice your car’s worth to have a quick deal. Be sure to list your car under a separate section from other cars. Most local newspapers have one section for conventional used cars and another section for classic cars. If there is no section for classic cars, make sure you begin your ad by describing your car as a classic. 


Auction Houses and Brokers

If you own a particularly valuable classic car, the best place to sell it is through a broker or an auction house. This way, you will reach the best possible consumers, someone who is particularly interested in your car’s specific type. This will eliminate people who will try to talk you down to an unfair price and free yourself from the hassle of trying to sell a car privately. 


Auction houses and brokers, as expected, are going to take their cut of the sale though. Make sure to weigh your options before deciding on taking this path. If you have a rare, high sticker price classic, this is the best route to choose. 


Online options can be cheaper, but there’s a risk that you end up with a deadbeat bidder. Brokers and auction houses are much more reliable and will allow you to reach people who really want your car and are willing to spend a lot for them to get it.

How long does it take to sell a classic car?

According to experts, it can take as long as half a year to sell a good car at a fair price. If you are selling a classic car, you might expect to take longer since you are looking at a smaller market.


It is important to keep in mind that you should never negotiate when you are desperate. You should plan ahead. You cannot just expect to sell a car immediately and get a good offer for it. Rushing a sale means you are not seeing the big picture. Set a fair price for your car and let the buyer adjust to meet it.

How do I find the value of my classic car?

The market value of a classic car is best identified by knowing supply and demand through the use of historical sale prices or current asking prices on available inventory. For classic cars, 70 percent are sold privately, 20 percent are sold through auctions and 10 percent are sold through dealerships. Since there are more than one channel involved, no single valuation tool can provide a precise car value. 


There are, however, plenty of free collector value guides and tools that let you research the range of values for your car which will help set your asking price based on the trim package, included options and condition of your car. Below is a list of trusted sources to help you find the value of your classic car:


  • National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) is a reputable, comprehensive source that has developed the searchable NADA Guides-Classic Collectible Car values providing a clickable tool to immediately estimate the Low, Average and High Retail values of classic and collectible cars based on the year, make, model, trim and included factory options. 


  • Caarguide.com is an online resource which uses a proprietary valuation scale to come up with estimates of collectible and classic cars’ values. 


  • Collectorcarmarket.com compiles proprietary data sources such as sales reports, auctions, classified listings,etc. to get estimates of the values of classic cars.


  • Historical Vehicle Auction Sales Prices: conceptcarz.com and classicandsportscar.com


  • Available Inventory of Vehicles Listed for Sale: classicars.com and collectorads.com


  • Available Inventory of Online Car Auctions: eBay Motors – Classic Cars and truck for sale and Bring a Trailer – Vintage and Classic Cars for Sale Online


Classic car values are determined by numerous factors that are both within and out of your control as an owner. A collector’s car value depends on the rarity, restoration quality, condition and market demand. 


No one price estimator or appraisal tool can give you an accurate amount of your car’s worth, but they can provide a good starting point in setting its market value. Using the combination of the price guides and valuations tools for classic cars can give an estimate of your car’s value. But only a licensed appraiser can provide a precise and specific valuation.


The economic principle of supply and demand is applicable to classic cars as well. Whether you are driving a new car or a classic one, its value is based on its current global inventory, going market rate set by demand among other collectors, and the historical sale price of the car. 


When all is said and done, it is up to you to decide whether you should keep or sell your classic car. Hopefully, the different factors discussed above will help you in making the best decision for your situation. If you do decide to sell it, make sure to market it at the right place and at the right price using the guides and tools discussed above.