Buying a classic car online. ebay, a new classic car trader. Classic cars for sale.


If you are considering purchasing your classic car on eBay Motors, or on one of the other web auction sites, you are not alone. eBay is now considered to be the dominant force in classic car and part sales. In 2006, eBay reported:

One car is sold on eBay motors every minute.

More cars are sold on eBay before 9:00am than an average dealership sells in a year.

ebay Motors was ranked the #1 automotive website.

There are approximately 1 million parts available on eBay at any given time.

As great as those statistics sound, it can be as expensive as it is exciting unless you prepare for the purchase properly. There is much to learn in order to effectively buy a beauty instead of a beast on eBay Motors, even if you are a veteran “eBayer”.

Register as an eBay member if you haven’t already done so. The advantages of registering before you start searching through eBay’s listings include:

The ability to watch auctions without bidding and request email notification for your watched items. Saving your favorite searches will activate eBay to email you new search results as they become listed. Researching completed listings to make informed buying and selling decisions.

If you haven’t bought or sold on eBay before, it’s best to consider practicing bidding and buy low value items that you may need. That way if you do make a mistake, it is not an expensive one. If the pictures and description of the items look good, I would still recommend an e-mail exchange with questions to the seller for experience using this tool. Do this within the eBay site by sending a message to the seller, or requesting more detailed description and photographs. This will ensure that your computer will be able to accept photos and display them for viewing.

Browse or search through the inventory of cars that might interest you. Use the intuitive buttons to navigate the pages using the listings and headlines to go further into the inventory of all the makes, models or years of production that you could possibly want. As you view the listing, there are many terms that need to be understood, such as:

Reserve: That is the minimum price the seller will accept for the item. If you place a bid below the reserve, the listing will show that the reserve has not been met.

Buy it Now: That is the price that the buyer will accept and finish the auction with you as the winner. This price is not always a good indication of the reserve price.

Best Offer: A listing feature that lets a buyer make an offer to the seller for them to either accept or decline.

Meet the Seller: Read the feedback comments and always try to deal with sellers that have a high number of positive feedbacks. These comments are gathered voluntarily on the performance of buyers and sellers in the auction process and are recorded for you to see.

Buy Safely: Review the Vehicle Purchase Protection; it’s an excellent and necessary protection against fraud or misrepresentation of up to $20,000 per vehicle.

Once you find a vehicle that you are interested in purchasing you should obtain information about the item’s history, features and current condition. Read the description of the vehicle thoroughly. The seller should elaborate on all the details of the car, such as the condition, terms of sale, any guarantee and so forth. There should also be a good number of pictures of the vehicle including the engine compartment, trunk, interior, exterior and undercarriage. If the seller has disclosed any blemishes, close up pictures should be included. Understand the title status of the vehicle and any issues with liens or lack of documentation that would hinder registering the vehicle. If you have a question that isn’t addressed in the description, contact the seller by clicking the “Ask seller a question” link at the top of the listing. Don’t wait until the end of the auction.

There are some “red flags” to look for in the listing that should alert you to investigate the seller and the vehicle carefully. While buying a vehicle through online auction sites is a good way to purchase one, buyers should exercise the same cautions as when they buy anything else on the Internet. Unfortunately there are some scam artists that use this medium to take your money, but it could also be an experienced eBay seller that has little knowledge of classic cars. This is what we look for:

Ask the seller if you can see the vehicle in person. Someone who doesn’t actually have the vehicle in his or her possession will almost certainly refuse. Even if you have no intention of paying a visit, just asking to see it could be useful.

Watch out for auctions that feature what looks like stock photos or photos from brochures. Anyone with a real car to sell should be able to take a picture of it.

Beware of any seller who will only accept a wire transfer for payment. It can be a seller who will offer a vehicle for sale that they don’t really have; they often just post a photo they found somewhere. The sellers often indicate that they are located in Europe and insist on a wire transfer, such as Western Union, for payment. Once the buyer sends the money, the seller vanishes, never to be heard from again.

Beware of a seller who says the vehicle is in another country but offers to pay the shipping to the United States. This is a tactic used by scammers in other countries.

Watch out for a vehicle that is offered at a price that seems too inexpensive for that make and model. Statistically, cars sold over Internet auctions will go for about 10% less than through a dealership, but a $20,000 that car is offered for $10,000 should set off bells in your head. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.

Check the seller’s transaction history to see if they have a positive feedback record of actually selling classic cars, especially in the make and model they’ve listed. If the seller is listing a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe, but has a history of only buying or selling computer products, you may want to look elsewhere.

Determine guidelines for what you are willing to pay and how much you can afford. All bids on eBay are binding; therefore, you should make sure that you know how much you can afford. You will want to determine if the seller’s price meets or exceeds the car’s market value. A great way to determine a realistic price is to look at final sale prices for similar cars sold on eBay. You can check market values in publications such as the Old Car Buyers Guide, Hemmings or NADA’s Classic, Collectible, and Special Interest Car Appraisal Guide & Directory. These price guides typically rate a cars value using 6 categories according to conditions that range from pristine to a basket case.

Know your total costs and how you’ll cover them. When bidding for or buying a classic car consider other potential costs such as title, registration, state taxes, and any shipping costs. Refer to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles Web site for guidelines on taxes, title transfer, and registration. If the seller isn’t local, make sure you know how you will pick up the vehicle or arrange shipping if you are the successful buyer. Sellers can help arrange shipping, but buyers usually pay for it.

eBay will require you to have a credit card on file if you are bidding over $15,000. Don’t wait until the last minute to provide this information because you will be notified when you bid and will not be able to proceed. eBay doesn’t use your card information to charge you for the item, they use it to confirm your identity; a safety measure to help protect both buyers and sellers from potential high-bidding fraud.

Review the sellers required payment methods and terms. Be expected to pay an installment payment at the close of auction and full payment within 7 days. If you want to make monthly payments, you will want to have financing secured. eBay is equipped to help you get the financing that you need; check out the eBay Financing Center to arrange financing before you bid or to calculate monthly payments.

When you are ready to launch a bid, click on the bid button on the car’s auction page. You can open with a scouting bid and see what the competition does or enter the maximum amount you’d be willing to pay for the car. Your maximum amount is kept confidential from other bidders and the seller. When you give the eBay system your maximum amount it bids on your behalf, using only as much of your bid as is necessary to maintain your high bid position and will only bid up to your maximum amount. If another bidder has a higher maximum, you’ll be outbid and eBay will send you a notification email.

Closely monitor the bidding process. If the competing bids exceed your maximum amount early on, you may want to consider if this make or model, in the condition advertised, is really in your budget. But if the bidding looks favorable to you, allocate time to be at a computer near the close of the auction. If 10 minutes before the auction is scheduled to end you are out bid by $50.00, you can then decide to increase your maximum bid. Keep your emotions in check and only increase a comfortable amount. We would hate to lose a great car for $50.00 but will not bid over the market value of the car or bust our budget.

Once you have been notified that you are the winning bidder, contact the seller to inform them of how you plan to execute the payment details and arrange delivery. If you haven’t see the car personally, schedule a date to inspect the vehicle yourself or through a broker prior to the date payment in full is due. We have found that a plane ticket or broker’s fees are less expensive that the return shipping costs of a vehicle. Plus, if the car is as advertised, you can have the pleasure of your first road trip in your new acquisition.

When taking delivery of the car, have in hand, print outs of all the pictures, email correspondence and description of the car’s condition provided by the seller. Personally inspect that everything is as advertised. If you are picking up the car from the seller and find a problem that was not disclosed or misrepresented, you can refer to the documentation that was provided by the seller and either negotiate the price or ask for the deposit to be returned.

If the car has been shipped, inspect it before it is unloaded. Damage can occur as it comes off the truck and any repairs would be the responsibility of the shippers. You and the shipment company’s driver should inspect the car together and the condition of the car will be recorded and signed for. If at that point you find problems with the car, take pictures and document everything. If the vehicle has issues during a road test, take it to a qualified mechanic and have them document their findings. If you decide that the car is not as advertised, you need to put together a factual and non-emotional accounting of why it is so. Email the seller and negotiate what actions should be taken.

One of the main features I like best about buying on eBay is that a seller’s reputation is displayed for all to see and having an unhappy customer is not desirable. Subsequently, we have found most sellers will work to make the transaction acceptable to both parties.