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Buying and Selling Tips
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Buying and Selling Tips

Collectively, AutoLotClassics' staff has over 60 years of experience in both buying and selling classic and exotic vehicles. Utilizing our team’s experience, we have compiled a list of valuable tips designed to assist you in buying or selling your next classic vehicle.
Buying Tips
  • Do Your Research
    • Once you decide what vehicle you want, make sure and thoroughly research the various vehicle model years so you can understand any potential issues or problems that are typical with the vehicle.
    • For example, if you are interested in buying an early model year Acura NSX (MY 1991 and 1992), one of the biggest mechanical issues is a “Snap Ring” failure. This can be destructive! However, it was not relevant on all the vehicles (with the MY 1991 and 1992), but with only certain vehicles and could only be detected by the transmission number (not the VIN).
  • Ongoing Expense
    • First and foremost, you need to realize that owning a classic vehicle requires continuous maintenance. If you are not willing to spend the money toward an ongoing maintenance expense, then owning a classic vehicle is probably not a good idea. However, if you are willing to commit to the vehicle’s upkeep, then owning a classic vehicle can not only serve as a good investment, but an investment that you can enjoy over a lifetime. Over the past decade, the investment value of vintage and classic vehicles have surged!
    • One thing to keep in mind is if you like the vehicle then chances are that others will like the vehicle as well. This philosophy will preserve the value of your classic vehicle, so it is highly imperative to continue the maintenance of your classic vehicle.
  • What is the Best Source for Researching a Vehicle
    • Beside the obvious (automotive websites, buyer guide books etc), we highly recommend classic vehicle forums. Typically, there are vehicle forums for most makes and usually there is no cost to be a member. Vehicle specific forums not only provide first hand ownership knowledge of a specific vehicle, but can also be an excellent source for buying parts, recommendations for scheduling a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI) and future repair and restoration facilities. First hand ownership knowledge and experience is always the best! For convenience, we have listed some popular vehicle forums in the Resources section of the website.
  • Take your Time
    • Never be in a rush to buy a classic vehicle. We do not want to say “Never buy the first vehicle you see”, but take your time and be patient! Let the vehicle come to you!
    • Before inquiring about a vehicle, do your research. A prepared, intelligent and knowledgeable buyer will always command respect from a seller. It is one of the best ways not to be taken advantage of. Knowledge is king!
  • Fair Market Value
    • During the researching process, make sure you understand the fair market value for that vehicle. Keep in mind that there are several factors that will determine a vehicle’s value.
    • Here is a list of some key factors.
      • Restoration Level/Quality (both exterior and interior)
        • Show
        • Show/Driver
        • Driver
        • Preservation
        • Project
        • RestoMod
      • Date and age of restoration
      • Matching numbers
      • Number of vehicle model years manufactured (or produced) and known availability.
      • Model Year
      • Exterior Color
      • Transmission type (manual or automatic)
      • Engine type (displacement)
      • Available and recent documented service repairs
      • Any major required service repairs
      • Ownership history (vehicle’s pedigree)
  • Contact Process with the Seller
    • If possible, we recommend calling the seller rather than emailing or inquiring through a website. However, during your first initial contact, it is acceptable to electronically contact the seller.
    • When sending a sales inquiry through a website, keep it simple. For example, just ask the seller if the vehicle is still available and make sure and include all your necessary contact information (phone number and email). This will show the seller that you are a serious buyer.
    • After the initial contact, make sure you communicate with the seller over the phone (or in person). We can not stress enough and strongly recommend that you should never limit your correspondence through email. When talking to a seller, you can get a better understanding of the seller’s personality, and most importantly, their character. This usually helps to understand if the seller is and was a “good caretaker” of the vehicle. If the seller prefers to correspond only through email, then “walk away." Remember, buy the seller!
  • Negotiation Process
    • When negotiating the sale price, always take into consideration any items (or issues) that need to be repaired or resolved. All necessary repairs should be deducted from the price of the vehicle (if not done so already).
    • For example, if the vehicle needs a repair to its Rear Main Seal, make sure and find out the cost of the repair and then negotiate that amount off the price of the vehicle.
  • Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI)
    • After you and the seller have agreed to a sale price, we highly recommend (and can not stress enough) that you schedule and pay for an independent 3rd party company to perform a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI). Never use a company that is recommended by the seller. We first suggest using a company recommended from a vehicle forum and if not available, a mobile inspection company or an independent service facility that specializes in classic vehicles that is highly rated with favorable customer reviews. Favorable testimonials from an independent source is the key.
    • We believe that this is one of the best investments you can make when buying a classic vehicle. Yes, it may cost you anywhere from $300-$500 (depending on the area and the type of vehicle), but this alone could save you thousands of dollars in the future. Do not buy a headache!
    • Keep in mind that the results of the PPI are between you and the PPI company and not the seller. We recommend only sharing the PPI results in an effort to re-negotiate the sale price if there are any undisclosed major issues. Be respectful and understand that normal wear and tear should be expected, such as; brakes, tires and minor blemishes to the exterior and interior.
    • If there are major issues and the seller does not want to re-negotiate the sale price, then it may make financial sense to “walk-away.” This can only be determined based on the cost of the repairs, the sale price, the vehicle’s exclusivity and the current market value of the vehicle. Just be smart!
  • Security Deposit
    • First, if the seller is a private individual, we strongly recommend that you do not send a security deposit. Instead, use a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI) as a means of negotiation. Let the seller know that by paying for a Pre-Purchase Inspection and that alone, it should be enough to convince the seller that you are a serious buyer. You can also let the seller know if you decide to pass on the sale, predicated on the PPI results that you will give them a copy of the inspection report for future buyers. This is a huge barging tool.
    • We recommend that you use this same approach and process when purchasing a classic vehicle from a dealer. However, if the dealer insists and requires a security deposit, make sure that the deposit is refundable. This should be in writing and predicated on issues discovered as a result of the PPI (once again, be respectful and take into consideration normal wear and tear). In this case, you may need to disclose the PPI results to the dealer. If the dealer is unwilling to agree to this process, then “walk-away.”
Selling Tips
  • Comments and Vehicle Description
    • Make sure and describe the vehicle you are selling accurately and thoroughly. Describe in detail what service was performed. Make sure and include the dates and mileage intervals when the service repairs were completed.
    • For sale is a mint condition 1997 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S (type 993, the last generation of the air-cooled Porsche 911). Some believe this generation is the most coveted! The C4S gives you all the looks and handling of the Turbo without the high-cost maintenance! Same brakes, steering, wheels, body and suspension! It is black over tan leather interior and sports the factory turbo package! It has only 66,000 miles! There are no modifications or previous paint work. All stickers and identification plates are intact and proper. The lines are as straight as an arrow! Through-out my ownership, it has been fully serviced by a professional shop that specializes in air cooled 911's; Steinel's Autowerks. All service records are available since my ownership. There are no accidents and it retains its original paint. The interior is in perfect condition with only slight wear on the driver side seat bolster and a small (less than a ¼”) crack in the center of the dash. Since my ownership, the car has never seen rain or any inclement weather! Always garaged and meticulously maintained. CarFax report, service records and more pictures available upon request. I will not respond to text messages and/or low-ball offers. Please call if you have any questions. I encourage and welcome any 3rd party pre-purchase inspections.
  • Pictures
    • Since AutoLotClassics allows up to 100 photos, make sure and take advantage of this option. It has been proven that more photos per vehicle listing will increase your “Vehicle Display Page” (VDP) views and help you sell more cars!
    • Your photos should include any imperfections and notable features and options. For example, if there are noticeable paint imperfections, interior flaws or tears, cracked dash, wheel (curb) rash, chrome pitting or any other noticeable imperfections that are able to be pictured, then make sure and include them. Full transparency is highly recommended.
  • Videos
    • Adding videos is another way to increase your “Vehicle Display Page” (VDP) views and help you sell more cars! Like pictures, make sure and include any imperfections and notable features and options.
    • Unlike a picture, we recommend that you provide a verbal narrative when filming your video and as such, thoroughly describing the vehicle. This will keep the buyer engaged and increase the time the buyer will stay on your vehicle listing. Videos are the best sales tool for attracting a “sight unseen” buyer! If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is undoubtedly worth a hundred thousand words! In short, videos get results!
    • We also recommend adding multiple videos. Include an exterior and interior vehicle walk-around video, a driving video and a cold start video.
  • Pricing
    • One of the best ways to increase your “Vehicle Display Page” (VDP) views is to include the vehicle’s price. This will attract serious buyers and eliminate bargain hunters...AKA “Tire Kickers.”
  • Service Records
    • If available, make sure and mention that service records are available upon request. Having service records will ultimately increase the sale value of the vehicle.
  • Competitively Price Your Vehicle
    • Classic vehicles can be very unique in scope. However, based on Year (or internal model designation), restoration quality (exterior and interior) and matching numbers, you should be able to price your vehicle listing accordingly. A good source for determining a vehicle’s valuation is Hagerty.
    • https://www.hagerty.com/apps/valuationtools/search/auto
  • Know the Market
    • Is your vehicle in high demand? Make sure and check other marketplace listings, auctions and classic car forums so you can get an idea if your vehicle is a “hot commodity.”
    • For example, the air cooled Porsche 911 surged in value; especially the internal model designation 993 (MY’s 1995-1998). Type 993 (as commonly known) is the last generation of the air cooled 911 and, as a result, the most coveted and valued. In short...know your market!
    • If you are a private seller, you can be more aggressive in pricing since you do not have the “overhead” expense of owning and operating a vehicle and automotive dealership.
  • Get your Vehicle Professionally Detailed
    • Getting your vehicle prepped and professionally detailed will not only provide for better pictures and videos, but also shows the buyer that you are a good caretaker of the vehicle. If you were selling your home, you would want to make sure the inside was clean and the exterior is properly landscaped. Curb Appeal matters! The same holds true for your vehicle. The vehicle’s ownership history matters and will help improve the vehicle’s pedigree.
  • Sale Inquiry - Be Responsive
    • One of the simplest ways to sell your vehicle is to be responsive to all sales inquiries; even though some inquiries may be frivolous. Being responsive demonstrates that you are serious about selling your vehicle and exhibits a sense of professionalism. First impressions are the best impressions!
  • Get Organized
    • We highly recommend that you keep any additional photos, all available service records and history reports (if available for your vehicle’s year) scanned and organized within a designated file folder on your computer.
  • Agreeing to a Sale Price
    • If you are a private seller and once there is an agreement in principle for the sale of your vehicle, we recommend an electronic security deposit to hold the vehicle. It is your choice to offer a refund. We believe a refund should be offered based upon if the vehicle is sold on contingency. For example, if the buyer requests a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI) of the vehicle and the report comes back with undisclosed issues, a refund should be granted if you are not willing to renegotiate the agreed upon sale price. Conversely, if the inspection report does not show any undisclosed discrepancies, then the deposit should not be refunded.
  • Finalizing the Sale
    • Once any and all contingencies have been resolved, make sure the final balance is completed by either wiring the money directly into your financial institution's account or if the sale is done in person, only accept a bank certified cashier's check or money order. With either instance, please have your financial institution verify the authenticity and certification of the check or money order. After the money is verified, have the buyer sign a Bill of Sale agreement.
    • There are several free downloadable templates available on the Internet. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can create a Bill of Sale yourself. Make sure and include the following information:
      • Date of Sale
      • Vehicle Year
      • Vehicle Make
      • Vehicle Model
      • Vehicle Trim (if available)
      • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
      • Vehicle Final Sales Price
      • No Warranty/“Sold AS IS”
      • Buyer’s First and Last Name
      • Buyer’s Address
        • City
        • State
        • Zip Code
      • Buyer’s Phone Number
      • Buyer’s Email (if available)
      • Buyer’s Driver License Number
    • After the Bill of Sale is signed, you can then notarize and sign the Vehicle’s Title.
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