Some people have more fun looking for their classic car than actually driving it. Most casual lookers hit on the big sites found on page 1 of Google, but they stop there. If you’re serious about buying a classic car, consider looking at the smaller sites too.
Sometimes sellers only list their car on one site. These are usually private sellers. In an attempt to save $30 to $150 on an ad, they will take the free route to advertise their car. In their mind, “it is online, ready to be sold, and didn’t cost me a dime.” Unfortunately for them, this usually results in a lower sale price due to lack of adequate exposure to all prospective buyers. Hemmings has 2.5 million visitors a month to its site in addition to the 600,000 magazine subscribers. Many of the smaller sites listed here are going to have significantly less traffic. This is why searching multiple sites pays off for the buyer; you get to see everything that is available and get a great deal on your classic car.
Remember, you’re not walking into a Honda dealer, picking your package, your interior and exterior colors, adding some scotch guard, and driving off into the sunset your brand new CR-V ‘soccer mobile’with plenty of time to make it home by dinner. Your search will take time. You are looking for a car that left the new car dealer decades ago. Be patient and good things will happen.
Your initial search will take the most time to complete since all these listings are new to you. After you complete that, dedicate thirty to sixty minutes twice a week to scan these sites. By focusing on a tight range of years, specific models or style of car, your search criteria can get narrowed down. You never know when your car will appear and you want to be the first one to contact the seller when your dream car hits your radar. I recommend both emailing and calling the seller. Don’t worry about bothering him; some people only answer the phone and some people only check their email. You’re buying the car from him—he wants to hear from you. After you reach out to the seller three times, make a note of it and move on. The car may be off the market, but until the seller tells you the car is off the market keep trying to reach them.
Some of these sites leave up listings long after the ad has expired or the car has sold. The sites do this so it looks like there is a large selection of cars for sale. I call this the ‘Ashley Madison’ move. Remember when Ashley Madison had fake profiles? There were profiles of supermodels who wanted nothing more than middle-aged, overweight, married bald guy to bed them. Turns out they were all fake and lots of people got divorced. That type of stuff is going on with car sites too, but there will probably be fewer divorces-unless you blow the 401K on that hot rod T-Bucket that your wife absolutely hates.
It helps to keep a spreadsheet including the following info so that you don’t end up wasting time trying to remember where you saw that 1948 Tucker in #1 Condition. Ads expire and sites go down, but the seller is still interested in unloading the car. It pays for you to keep your own database. Here is what I include in my spreadsheet:
- Brief description of the car (e.g. “1981 DeLorean, good condition, but needs new paint)
- Link to ad
- Seller’s information including: Name, email, phone number. We we are missing any sites, please let us know in the comment section or shoot us an email.
It goes without saying, but be careful when dealing with anyone on the internet. Make sure don’t wire money without making sure the other guy is legit.
|Site||Number of Classic Car Listings||Comments|
|http://www.hemmings.com/||25,000||Started as a magazine in 1954, this is the seminal company for all classic cars. There are also some great articles on car collecting.|
|http://classiccars.com/||30,000||This is a superior source for dealers and private sellers to list their cars. The search function allow for filtering of car ads.|
|http://www.autabuy.com/||15,000||600,000 total listings, but about 15,000 in the classic car section. The site also has motorcycles and dealer links.|
|http://www.fossilcars.com/||25,000||Easy to navigate site with numerous resources and blog packed with articles.|
|http://www.oldcaronline.com/||10,000||Free to post your ad. The site is classifieds only; no articles on car collecting.|
|http://www.prewarcar.com/||Thousands||Hard to navigate, but lots of cars not found in some of the major sites.|
|http://classyauto.com/||3,000||Free to post your ad. There are just ads, not much in the way of resources.|
|https://classics.autotrader.com/||11,500||Subsection of bigger Autotrader site. It is easy to use. If you know what car you are searching for, don't use the 'category' search.|
|http://www.oldride.com||11,000||Decent selection plus information on events, clubs (over 2300 listed) as well as a library with model specific information.|
|http://www.greatvehicles.com/||7,500||General for sale site with lots of vehicle types for sale.|
|http://www.classifiedads.com/||1,000||Site with limited search function makes this one difficult to use.|
|http://www.cars-on-line.com/||10,000||A good site if you know exactly what car you are looking for. You need to click on links to see pictures and get more info on the car.|
|http://www.collectorcarads.com||4,000||This site doesn't charge to place your ad, but requests a donation if your car sells.|
|http://classyauto.com/||2,000||Lots of private sellers on this site.|
|http://www.themusclecarplace.com/||500||What started as a podcast in 2009 has grown into a great resource for the muscle car collector.|
|https://www.carsforsale.com/||23,000||This site has over a million cars for sale but most of them are modern cars.|
|http://www.timelessrides.com/||4,000||Free to post here. Check out 'The Complete Guide to Buying a Classic Car'-lots of good info to find.|
|http://www.vettehound.com/||1,500||Just Corvettes organized by generation.|
|http://bringatrailer.com/||35||A neat auction site that screens each car it auctions and provides a nice text write up on each car as well as great pictures.|
|http://www.kijiji.ca/||2,500||This is a 'Craigslist' of Canada, and there are 2,500 classic cars that you might not find listed on a US site.|
|http://www.haggleme.com/||12,000||An online consignment dealer that is the middleman between private sellers and buyers.|
|http://www.allcollectorcars.com/||40,000||A scrapper site in similar design to Sharp Classics.|
|https://www.cars.com/||8,500||This site has over four million cars for sale but most of them are modern cars.|
|http://www.classiccarsarena.com/||>15,000||This page doesn't show up on page 1 of Google classic car sites, but it is worth a look when finding your car.|
|http://www.classicnation.com/||>1,000||Classified site dedicated to pre-1972 cars.|
|http://www.antiquecar.com/||>1,000||Smaller site with good stats on each entry.|
|http://www.backpage.com/||>Various||Like Craigslist, but smaller. Worth a look, but don’t expect a large number of matches to your search.|
The following are Craigslist Aggregators. They all do the same thing so pick your favorite and find your classic car.
|http://www.searchtempest.com||This site also includes eBay auctions too.|
|http://www.adhuntr.com/||Good site, but has limited search features|
|http://allcraigslistsearch.com/||Easier to use than adhuntr|
This cool site let’s you find eBay auctions with no bids, no reserves, free shipping, and/or local auctions. A great site for parts, car memorabilia, and non-car related items.
|http://zerobidz.com||Looking for low-cost parts, memorabilia and other deals on eBay.|
|https://cars.trovit.com/||A scraper site that crawls the web for cars that match your criteria. Expect to see lot of cars from previous searches.|