Now the market is much more savvy, and vendors and buyers alike all seem to know what anything is ‘worth’. Which has given rise to two new types of buyer: what I call the email timewaster, and the more sinister telephone chancer. These characters can absorb an inordinate amount of your time if you’re not careful. 

The first, because of their repeated requests for you to email them pictures of the car you have for sale. As if the 5 or 6 pictures you’ve loaded up, the description and the price don’t tell the whole story! Oh no, these timewasters want an ever-increasing level of detail and description of every pin-mark and pock, nick and scrape on a car 10, 20, 40 or 60 years old. Yet there is only so much that a picture can tell the viewer. And if a picture means a thousand words, then nothing can beat actually going to see the car for sale. Yet few people do anymore, preferring to believe pictures and trust to luck that their internet purchase is up to snuff. We’ll come back to this in a moment.

So after you’ve sent possibly hundreds of images of your pride and joy off to many tens of people intrigued by your wheels and posing as potential buyers, who turns up next? The telephone chancer. He’s the one who will call you at anytime of the day or night asking if the car you are selling is “still for sale?” Or more likely “still for sale MATE”. (I hate being called mate by people who I have never met and who are patently and evidently are NOT my mate, how about you?) These chancers then ask the blunt question when you answer that the car has not yet found a good home: “What’s the least you’ll take?” As if any sensible vendor would answer that. The proposed selling price is there in glorious pixel-colour on-screen. So it’s down to the prospective buyer to build some relationship and have a good barter with the vendor, in person, if they are genuinely interested.

The insanity of answering a ‘what’s the least you’ll take’ request is obvious. Give them a revised, lower price and all that’ll happen is that when they do (IF they do) arrive at your place to buy the car, that they’ll then try another round of price-chipping. At which point they know where you live and you have no clue who they are. Not good. How do I know all this? I’m being reminded on a daily basis as I am selling the mk1 Golf GTI which has been my daily smoke for the past 4 years. Yes it’s cheap, but if you’ve followed its progress in sister-title Classic Car Weekly you’ll know how I’ve looked after it. if you’re interested!   So to return to the point we put aside earlier. Who on earth would buy a car sight unseen? If you’re a gambling man then well and good, go ahead with having a punt. But when it turns around and bites you on the backside don’t complain. You chose to gamble.   Having spent a lot of time around ‘buyers’ within the motor trade, yes, they’ll all tell you its all about the metal. But more than that, it’s about the paper trail, the service history, and that indefinable ‘feel’ you get from the person selling the car. Professional buyers will often say they bought such and such a car from a ‘proper’ person. Meaning an upstanding, regular person who will have looked after the car, kept it clean and by inference and evidence, have kept it properly serviced and maintained.

Those cars, when they come up for sale, they’re the real bargains, no matter the price. And if you can appear ‘proper’ while selling all sorts of limping old basket cases, well, that’s a different story!

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