How to construct a good car classifieds ad

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

holden statesman 2 holden statesman 2

Not all car ads are created equal: Here are some tips on standing out from the crowd

The nature of our job requires us to look at cars for sale every single day. Whether its our own classifieds database and the hunt for our daily ‘tempters’, or the many specialist dealerships and auction houses from around the world in which we constantly have eyes on.

And if we’ve learned one thing, it’s that not all car ads are created equal.

But it can be a hard thing to master. You need to be informative and trustworthy, but also appealing and somewhat engaging.

There’s no exact formula, but we’ve literally decades of experience in reading and examining used car ads, so here are some of our tips to help get you on track.


Be Detailed

Especially in regards to classics and older cars – there is generally a wide range in price and condition, even when comparing equivalent makes and models.

There are far more unknowns and reasons to be sceptical from a buyer’s perspective, so when writing your ad, be as detailed as possible and pre-emptively attempt to answer any simple questions someone might have.

Avoid vague blanket terms like ‘runs fine’. By all means, make it known that your old project is in running condition – but also make mention on what work has been undertaken to get the car to its current state, and anything that is left undone on your ‘to-do’ list.


As a seller, you want to paint a holistic picture on how your car has been treated and cared for under your ownership: has it been maintained? Do you have records to support any works, parts or servicing? Does it live outside? Does it get driven every day, or perhaps it hasn’t moved in years.

It’s even worth stating a reason why you are selling your car.

As an aside - it also pays to write your ad in full and proper english. I always tell people that they should judge their classic car purchase as much on the seller, as they do on the car being sold. A poorly written listing can reflect lazily on yourself, and can - deservedly or not - compound other doubts and questions regarding the car.

You want, to the best of your ability, to remove any doubt or room for questioning that you or the car might have something to hide.

But, having said that…

Be Honest

By all means, put your best foot forward; but don’t purport the car to be something it is not.

Dents and damage are not inherantly bad, and as a buyer - I'd rather find out up front rather than find out for myself if I choose to come check out the car.


These days there are a raft of resources from enthusiast-run databases and registries as well as manufacturer and even government resources that can aid in the authentication of car and condition.


All cars imported from Japan, for instance, can be compared with Japan's own export records and condition reports. There have been many public cases where Australian sellers have been outsted for attempting to sell damaged cars, or with tampered odometers. Don't be that guy.

Be Able to Justify Your Price

Pricing is something we get asked to advise on a lot. And there’s no magic formula either unfortunately – this is something that takes a bit of research.

But make a habit of regularly checking the market for your particular make and model.

Narrow the search parameters down to relevant factors too: mileage, and restoration work, etc

Also recognise what adds to your car’s value, and what does not.


Absolutely, a fresh set of tyres on the car will save the buyer some cash (and hassle), and they will see value in that.

But in general, aftermarket modifications (especially if the highly sought-after OEM components were chucked in the bin years back) generally aren’t seen as value-added to the buyer – who may even factor in the cost of a correct OEM replacement.

Ideally, you want to build up the knowledge to where you can point to other examples on the market, and ideally confirmed sales, to explain and provide a reference for your own pricing.

This will better arm you to deal with unreasonable ‘lowballers’, as well as giving you a clearer and firmer understanding of what your car is worth.

Be Generous with Photos

As a rule of thumb: the more photos the better.

You’d be surprised how many times we come across a tempting car, for a tempting price, only to be turned away by a singular photo which doesn’t tell us much about the car except for what colour it is.

It’s easy these days with camera phone, so there isn’t really any excuse.


But before you begin snapping away: wash your car. And give it a good vacuum. As a buyer, you’d be surprised as to how demotivating it can be to see a dirty interior. Again; you want to present yourself as the owner, as best you can, as well as your vehicle.

Grab a shot of at least every angle, the interior, boot, and engine bay. It also pays to photograph any standout features you have mentioned in your description, as well as any common rust areas and any pertinent damage that should be made known.

It makes your listing more engaging and aid in your trustworthiness as a seller.




Subscribe to Unique Cars Magazine and save up to 39%
Australia’s classic and muscle car bible. With stunning features, advice, market intelligence and hundreds of cars for sale.