Selling a classic car post-lockdown

By: Philip Lord, Photography by: Philip Lord, Range Rover

Presented by

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The classic car market is booming, making selling one potentially a whole new experience...in frustration

It all started at Christmas. The P38A Range Rover I bought before the COVID chain and padlock hit the world, was getting a dash-out, A/C blend motor replacement.

Somebody will pipe up to say they can do this job in 17 minutes, including time to down a couple of Scotch and Cokes. But I had other fiddly repairs to do while the dash was out. I’m also approaching an age where it seems a torch and glasses are necessary just to tie my shoelaces. The job took two long, slow weeks from break down to button up.

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Lockdown equals shedtime

It was during her open dash surgery that my love affair with the Range Rover cooled. I had already spent much of the locked-down months obsessively fettling the Rangie. It had arrived at Lord manor a bit weather-beaten, but with good bones. With the work I’d done, the Rangie was not perfect but looked and drove like a much younger car than its 20 years.

In January, a fine example of a rare (okay obscure, unloved and unwanted) classic came up. But I really wanted it. I considered keeping the Rangie too, but there wasn’t enough garage room for both. Also, a new arrival in the garage (without first a subtraction) may cause my ‘significant other’ to deem me an insignificant other, preferably living elsewhere.

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As it turned out, it didn’t matter. I realised that the love for my English Patient had gone, and I couldn’t seem to get it back. I still felt a sense of betrayal as I put the Rangie up for sale.

Within 30 minutes of the ad going live, the calls, texts and emails began to flood in.

This was not the first time I had advertised a car in the digital age. I was expecting emails or texts along the lines of, "Will you take $30? I have cash ready to go".

More frustrating were the stock, hit-a-button questions I received, such as "I am interested in your ad", and nothing else. I’m pretty sure they were sent by four year-olds playing with a parent’s iPad, but I was tempted to reply, "I’m so pleased my ad got your interest. I spent hours on it." What else can you say?

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Ready for a new owner

When a prospective buyer makes the effort to phone you, it is a good sign. This time, that wasn’t such a good sign.

For the first several callers, I gave the long-winded story on the car’s background, what I had done to it, and so on. Soon, my voice became hoarse from talking so much. Some people called back to ask extra questions. I started to think I’d better write people’s names down, because I forget who I was talking to. There were so many of them.

The car sold twice, in the first 24 hours. The first buyer had called, then later texted an offer. I thought it was fair, and agreed. To which he said he’d take the car, ‘subject to finance’. Oh. No thanks.

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So straight to the second, interstate buyer, who already said he’d buy the car for the same price if the first deal fell through. I sent about 100 photos of the car to the bloke, answered several text messages and got and gave details for the sale to proceed.

As I was checking to see if the money had come into my account, a text came though. The buyer had changed his mind, on the basis that he heard that the P38A Range Rover could have lots of problems. Right, well, yes of course.

As the days wore on, more buyers called and the selling blurb I gave got more and more pointed. I hardly had any voice left, or much of a will to live by that point.

At day five of the ad going live, I had another interstate buyer phone. I gave him a video tour of the car. He said he would send a deposit straight away.

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Meanwhile, the calls kept on coming. There was the caller whose only question was, in other circumstances, not unreasonable. But by this point, being call number 30 or so, the question, "Have any dogs ever been in the car?", almost sent me into a mad, delirious giggle. I was tempted to reply, "Only my driver, Fido."

The next day, not quite a week since the ad went live, with calls, texts and messages still streaming in, I pulled the ad offline. It already had more than 1000 page views. The deposit hadn’t landed in my account yet, but I needed some time off from answering calls. I was well and truly over it.

Three days later, the deposit still hadn’t hit my account. It turns out the EFT electrons were humping their way from a bank somewhere north of Nigeria. So a deposit on Monday really meant roughly lunchtime Tuesday, AEST. The things you never think to clarify when selling a car.

Selling a classic in 2019 was far easier.

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Back then, I had a 1984 WB Statesman for sale online for three weeks, with about 600 page views. The calls and messages came in at a gentle, civilised pace. Yes, there were time-wasters – you expect that. But eventually a bloke turned up, and within 48 hours he actually paid for the car and drove it away. Just like that.

Despite my earlier misgivings, the bloke buying the Rangie with the EFT from an overseas account was genuine and the sale did go though.

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Selling the WB pre-covid was far simpler

With an empty space in the garage, it’s time get back in touch with the seller of that oddball classic I saw in January. Now the shoe is on the other hoof, I’m tempted to fire off an email with just one question.

"Is this still available?"

 

From Unique Cars #453, May 2021 

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