List Your Project Car for Sale: The Ultimate Guide

red coupe on flatbed trailer

Regardless of the fact, there are times when you might need to list your project car for sale, and we’re here to help you to figure out how to go about it. 

Your project car is probably your baby: you’ve spent countless hours getting things to work, out of your garage, and on the streets. While some of you might have been successful in restoring your car, others might not have been as lucky.

How To Sell Your Project Car

There are a few things that make selling a project car trickier than selling a bone-stock one. Here are the most important things to address when you’re trying to sell yours.

  • Does it Run?

Quite a few project cars don’t run. Don’t be the stereotypical person who says, “It just needs a fuel pump to run like a dream,” while listing a car that needs extensive repairs.

Your first option is to try fixing the car. A running car sells for more than a broken one, but getting it to run is not always feasible. Analyze the cost and time required to get the car running and then make a call to whether you should commit to repairs. 

  • Do Your Research 

Once you have decided whether it’s worth fixing it up, it is time to list your project car for sale. Newspapers are a good place to start, as are websites such as AutoTrader, Craigslist, and eBay.

If you have a unique vehicle that caters to a niche group of enthusiasts, you should head to the classified site and specialist publications. You have a greater likelihood of reaching the right target audience that way.

Honesty is the best policy for selling your car, so list all the details in your ad, including the work required to get the car functional. If your car is beyond repair and you are selling to scrap it for parts, tell the buyer so that they can make an informed decision. 

At times, you can get buyers through other car enthusiasts you know. So regardless of whether your car is fully customized or doesn’t even start, there’s someone in the car community who has a use for it.

  • Write the Perfect Ad

List anything that would make your car a more tempting offer for potential buyers. For example, if your car doesn’t run, you can use features such as the frame’s condition or the mileage to attract potential buyers.

It might seem insignificant, but for someone who thinks they can salvage your car, little details matter. So let buyers know exactly what to expect, including the condition of consumables such as tires and wipers. 

For custom builds, you should list any specialty parts that you have used in your car to make it stand out. Some parts are hard to get your hands on and can greatly increase your car’s value.

It helps to know the parts your car has and their current market value so that you can charge the right price for it.

  • Price it Appropriately

While you might not feel that a dollar value can justify the hours spent working on a project car, you have to be realistic about what people would pay for it.

A unique classic project car can go for a lot of money, while a working one yields an appropriate amount more. At the bottom of the list, you can find non-functional cars.

  • Have all the Paperwork

Before going through the hassle of trying to sell your car, get your paperwork in order. Incomplete or missing documents can shade out potential buyers. Clean titles are king, while some older cars can get away with just a bill of sale. 

Selling A Functioning Project Car

Assuming that you have a project car that runs and you’re proud of, you want to make your car as appealing as possible. In addition to the points we discussed above, here are some that are specific to functional cars:

Here are some things that you can do to increase the chances of selling it.

  • Take Photos
An old Volkswagen Beetle project car for sale parked on the side of a road
Make your car stand out by taking good photos in daylight

Take multiple photos from different angles after washing your car and use those photos in your ad. Doing so makes you seem more credible as a seller and provides key information that buyers need.

You need to showcase what you have. Regardless of whether you’re running stock or an aftermarket engine, brakes, suspension, wheels, or body kits, take photos of them to provide potential buyers with the complete information.

  • Know Your Car

Getting to know more about your car helps you to value it properly. Never buy no-name brand parts for a project car. Cheap parts can fail or damage the car and may even lead to life-threatening situations.

Car Throttle has done an incredible piece on why you shouldn’t buy off-brand wheels. Bad wheels might look like their branded counterparts if you squint and look at them from across the block. However, they consistt of cheaper materials that can cause serious accidents.

Branded parts cost more, but using them reduces the chances of catastrophic failures, plus it helps to attract the right people when you’re selling the car. 

Most project car owners have spare parts in the garage that are useless to them. You can make your listing more tempting by offering to give these parts to the new owner of the car. 

  • Show it Off

Whether you have a riced-out car or a tastefully modified one, there is a market for everyone. Hit up local car shows and meets to get more people to see your car when you’re trying to sell it.

Depending on which car it is, the mods you have installed, and your asking price, it can take a while to sell a project car. You should consider parking your car in an area that gets a lot of traffic so that more people can see your ride.

Ensure that you have conducted enough maintenance that your car turns heads for being well-kept rather than people cursing it for taking up a parking spot.

  • Take Care of it

People are likely to pay a premium if you keep your car carefully. Conducting due diligence includes fixing and replacing parts on time before they damage other components, timely maintenance checks, and making it look good.

If there’s one thing that I strongly believe in, it’s the ABCD method. What’s that, you ask? Well, it stands for Always Be Cleaning and Detailing your car. Not only does it protect your car, but it also helps make your car look presentable.

Our DIY car wash is a great place to start to get your car to shine. If you’re looking for that extra appeal, you might want to consider ceramic or glass coating for cars with a glossy paint job.

Presentation matters a lot when you’re selling any car. If it looks good on the outside, people assume it runs fine too.

  • Be Flexible

Project cars cater to a niche audience. Not everyone will have the time or finances to buy a car that serves as a secondary or tertiary vehicle for most people. Therefore, you have to be flexible about the time required to sell your car and about the pricing.

Most customers are looking for a good value, and at times your car isn’t worth the asking price. So ensure that you keep your options open and stay flexible to offers.

When a potential buyer comes to look at the car, walk them through how long you have owned it, the work you have done, and what needs fixing. Painting the complete picture will help you to stand out in the buyer’s mind.

What To Do If Your Car Doesn’t Sell?

Project cars are a risky business because they don’t always end up how you want them. As it turns out, selling them can also be tricky at times. There will be times when you list your project car for sale, but have no luck finding a buyer.

What should you do if your listing comes up with no hits?

Revise the Ad

Check if you included all relevant information in the ad. Also, check if your asking price aligns with what similar cars are selling for in the market. Overpriced ads drive customers away even before the point of negotiation.

The more information you have on your ad, the higher is the likelihood of landing a sale.

Sell it for Parts

If your car isn’t in great condition or doesn’t run, consider selling it for parts. You might end up earning more by selling individual components to buyers who need them than selling a complete non-functional car.

Consider Selling to a Company

You should consider selling your car to a company that specializes in restorations. They don’t pay as much as you would get from selling your car to a gearhead, but they’re a good option when all else fails.

These companies fix up cars and then sell them for a profit. However, they might not buy a car that needs a lot of work and costs more than what they expect to earn when selling it.

Donate it

If you don’t need the money, you could consider donating your car to a charity. First, ensure that your car isn’t riddled with problems because it can make it a problem for the charity to fix. Bonus, you can use the donated amount as a tax write off.

Scrap it

As a last resort, you might have to consider scrapping your car. There are cases where a car is in unusable condition and has components that are obsolete or in bad condition. In this case, you have no other option but to scrap your car. 

While scrapping your car is heartbreaking, it’s good for the environment and frees up the garage for other things.

Before calling a junkyard and paying their service fee, salvage any parts that might be of value and sell them off. This can help you pay the junkyard and pocket some cash too. The rates vary between junkyards, so look around for the best deal.

Why Would You List Your Project Car for Sale?

Several reasons can contribute to why anyone would put their project car for sale. However, regardless of what reason you have, there is a time when you have to draw the line, change priorities, and sell your car. Here are a few reasons to sell your project car:

  • It Doesn’t Drive

Gear-heads often pick up a non-functional car or even a car frame and try to build their car out. Restoring cars at times doesn’t go well, life happens, and many project cars remain parked in a garage.

  • You Don’t Have the Resources

Anyone who owns a project car knows that they can be money pits. It doesn’t matter whether you are building a custom car or restoring one; the odds of you draining your wallet are high. 

Everything costs more than you think, and you need a lot more parts than you planned.

Another reason people list their project car for sale is because they no longer have the time or patience to work on it. For most people, the time they invest in the car is simply not worth the return.

Some get a project car to work on when they’re young. However, after getting a taste of responsibilities, it gets difficult to take time out to work on a project car.

Remember that a project car is always evolving, including functional ones. So not only will it drill a hole in your pocket, but a project car will take a fair bit of your time too.

Since many project cars remain non-functional, you can predict how difficult it is to get one running.

  • You Need Something Reliable

Project cars break, and repairs can take a long time to get the car up and running. Even a functional project car is usually not reliable enough to replace your daily driver. 

Many people want something that just works and gets them from point A to B without any hassle. However, as a consequence of poor reliability, many people opt for a more modern and functional car.

  • It No Longer Fulfils Your Needs

Letting go of a car you spent a lot of time and money restoring is hard. However, you need to let go of it at times.

If you no longer get joy while working on your project car, it might be time to sell it. Some people end up thinking that project cars are more of a burden due to the commitment they require.

Other people might just be bored of their current project car and want to start a new one.

  • It’s no Longer Legal in Your State

Even if you love your project car, your vehicle must pass state vehicle inspections. There might be safety and environmental compromises in your project car that make it infeasible to drive. 

Changes in the law might make your vehicle illegal to drive on the road, for example, the recent bill that might ban the Carolina squat.

Other people might want a car that complies better with modern safety standards, and a good place to start is selling your project car.

  • It’s Time For A Lifestyle Change

Sometimes you’re just over it. Life has many chapters and sometimes a car is one of them. They had a role to play and now that part has come to an end.

With the countless responsibilities that befall an adult, it might be time to say goodbye to your project car.

Moving On

Parting with a car is difficult for anyone, let alone a gearhead. Many people list their project car for sale and end up pulling the ad because of their attachment to their car.

You spend hours building, testing, and upgrading your dream machine to get the results you want. Unfortunately, seeing someone else drive away in it might not be worth the monetary sum you get at the time of sale, and you’ll never know how the new owner treats it.

The best thing to do is accept that you sold the car, and it’s time to focus on the reason you did. On the plus side, you’ll save more money by driving anything other than a project car. Cheap and easily available parts for a regular car are easier to find and need less frequent replacement than a project car.

For a project car that you couldn’t get running, you are better off selling it. It takes a lot of resources and valuable garage space that you can get better use of. Plus, letting your car stand in place devalues it as components age and break over time.

Closing The Doors 

You have made it to the end of our guide on listing your project car for sale! Regardless of how old your car is and what condition it is in, there’s always some value left in it. 

While selling a functional car is easier, many people specifically look for non-functional vehicles to fix up and modify for a custom build. For custom builds and vintage cars, ensure that you reach out to the enthusiast market for the best results.

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