Monday, June 30, 2008

A Different Angle On eBay Sales

I have been Following Greg's efforts to sell his car on eBay, and wonder how one venue like eBay, can produce such different results, to a wild degree of ridiculousness.
One the one hand there is Gregs Lotus - a well loved, quite well kept usable car that one would think would sell reasonably well for various reasons - and on the other hand - there are cars like this car, Then and Now,
The 1954 Mercury XM800

This was a concept car
This 1954 Mercury Monterey XM800 was first unveiled at the 1954 Detroit Auto Show. The car was built for Ford by Creative Industries of Detroit, Michigan and was designed by the Mercury pre-production studio with John Najjar serving as the studio manager. Elwood Engle worked on the project as well, serving as a consultant assigned by George Walker's design firm.

The XM800 traveled the auto show circuit through 1954 it made a brief appearance in the 1954 20th Century Parade of Progress before fading from the spotlight.

Benson Ford promoted the idea of creating the car as a second Mercuy car line which would compete with Buick, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile.

Although the car was never put into production, it did take part in a Fox twentieth Century Film, and was made famous buy having its model put into Grape Post Nuts Cereal boxes.

The engine is supposed to be in excellent condition, and has only ever driven for 5 miles.
43 bids after it was posted on eBay, the bidding closed with the amazing amount of $125,350!!

So, my conclusion is that in order to make good sales on eBay, you need a lot of patients or a little stardust!

This is a guest post by Leslie, who's own blog is at Antique Cars Club

Thursday, June 26, 2008


We have a new author on the Classic Cars Blog (AKA The Money Pit). Leslie is a blogger from the USA with a keen passion for classic and vintage cars and she has very kindly offered to write a few posts for this blog too. I look forward to reading her posts, as I'm sure you do as well!

Leslie's own blog can be found here: Antique Cars Club.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hard Sell

I have to tell you, I hate trading cars privately. It is a necessary evil, since forecourt dealerships are such a rip-off in this country, but it's not a pleasant business. It is a world full of sharks.

Everyone thinks it is acceptable to haggle the price of a car and you end up in a Catch 22 situation. You put your car up for several hundred pounds more that you actually want, to account for the inevitable, and no one comes to look. So you put it on at a fair price for the car and everyone still tries to knock £1,000 off of the asking price, even though they know it is fair.

Even eBay seems to be mostly populated by time-wasters and tyre kickers. I shan't try to sell a car of any value on eBay again. I think the problem is the classics market isn't really there. Your car ends up "watched" by four dozen dreaming teenagers and a couple of bargain hunters, none of whom can actually afford/are prepared to pay the reserve price of the car. At one point I was fielding daily offers of £6,000 cash for the Lotus. Eventually I stopped replying to these jokers.

Now, I'm no fool and I have done my research. I have valued my car fairly and I know my valuation is based on my own, extensive market research prior to deciding to list my car. When forecourt dealers are asking over £10,000 for a decent car, my £8,500 (or near offer) price is perfectly reasonable. That said, this sort of haggling nonsense continually undermines your confidence in your asking price and makes one of even the strongest resolve start to question if he or she is asking for too much money.

Fortunately I have sat tight and I finally got an email from a lovely chap called Dave the other day, which I will quote:

[Re: Your Car and Classic Ad: Lotus Elan +2S 130/5]

Greg, we have looked at some total dogs this last week.

There was one that looked like the interior had been done by the Scouts adventure group and the paintwork was put on with a lot of cans. We found another JPS that some Philistine had painted gold very amateurishly, and the interior was a bag of rags.

We are looking for a car that we can get in and drive, that will start, won't misfire that has the servo on the brakes still and that doesn't look as if it was last used at a storage for a big dog . From what I have seen, and have found your car on a number of sites, it is in good order and used and that is what we are after.

So do keep in touch, don't sell it for less than you have it up for and as soon as I get the chance we will drive down and see it for ourselves.

Isn't that nice? Just when my confidence was waivering Dave reminded me what I already knew but had almost forgotten. All the Plus 2 cars out there for £5-7,000 are dog rough. All these jokers offering me £6,000 for mine haven't a prayer of finding a car half as clean for the same money - they are simply taking a chance and hoping I'm desperate.

I guess the moral is if you've done your homework and you know your price is fair, hang tight. Selling luxury items is hard. They are expensive and exclusive so by definition the market is small and extremely sensitive to economic conditions. It also often takes a long time to shift luxury goods. Our local classics garage has not rotated any stock for months now. So, confidence restored, I am still hanging in for on and around my asking price and to hell with anyone who offers me a grossly reduced cash settlement.

For reference, the best avenues I have found are a couple of specialist classic car sales sites (this one and this one) who offer free advertisements and a free London-based noticeboard called Gumtree. In combination these websites are now spawning a couple of enquiries a week and finally I have a couple of "viewings" when I get back from Italy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

At The Auction

Well, in spite of my pessimistic post about the British summer (which isn't exactly stunning, but not as bad as it could be) I have actually spent most of the last week driving the Lotus to work. This is an absolute pleasure, which makes it even more painful to see the poor girl listed on eBay.

I have really mixed feelings. In a funny sort of a way, even though I've been trying to sell her for ages, I don't really want to see her go. On the other hand, I know I won't find the time to use her and it will be the usual story come winter of sitting too long, seizing up and expensive repair bill in May.

I wonder if anyone will actually bid?? Last time I put a car on eBay I got nothing but a bunch of time-wasters. We shall see.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Wasn't Summer Nice?

That's all folks. Here in England we had two weeks of beautiful sunshine in May. That was summer. And you know what? The Lotus was out of action throughout, on the ramp in Barry Ely's workshop. *sigh*

I just got her back with another punishing bill for leaving her standing for half of the winter. When will I learn? The story goes like this:

Some time in late January (I think) was the last time the Lotus actually started unassisted. The starter motor was sluggish but just when I was about to give up she fired and ran. We went for a spin and all was well, so I put her away again. When I next came to the garage, probably about two weeks later, the starter motor was so reluctant it was never going to turn the engine over quick enough to start a cold Lotus.

Clearly (or at least partly) a bad earth, but it being winter, me being in a cold garage, miles from the house with no tools and no power all stacked up to mean I wasn't going to fix it there! So I went away and about six weeks later I tried to get the car going with my father. However, by this stage the bad earth was even worse and to compound it, the battery was half dead too, refusing to hold any sensible charge. Even hooked up to a Volvo 940 via some hefty jump leads there was no starting her.

And so there she stayed, again. Until May came around, another six weeks or so later, and I decided to call Barry and have him come and fetch the car on a trailer. The result?

Clutch seized so solid he thought he might have to take the engine out to get at it. Seized brake calipers. Blocked accelerator jets in the carbs. Twelve hours of labour at £45/hour, simply because I'd let her stand too long. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

The moral of the story is if something breaks, especially something which prevents you from starting the car, don't leave it until spring! Repair it as soon as it happens. The longer a car like this sits unused, the bigger the bill will be when someone eventually comes to sort it out.

I know this, but a mix of laziness and fear of what might be wrong caused me to ignore it and hope it would go away. It did not.

On the plus side, I have the car back, so in the unlikely event the British summer gets a second wind, I'll have a lot of fun.