How to Sell Your Parents’ or Grandparents’ Car

You have an old car or truck that has been in your family for a long time, and it’s time to sell it. How do you dispose of it while maximizing the price and minimizing the time it takes to sell? I’ve bought and sold over a hundred cars over the years, as I have a car museum that features classic cars and sports cars; plus, I have five grown children, all of whom got cars when they turned 16!

This post includes the basic steps to get your parents’ or grandparents’ car successfully disposed of (and sold) with minimum effort. It requires some knowledge that comes with the appropriate experience. For example, an old pick-up truck is slightly different in selling, as it is more related to the local/regional market.

I will relate my experience over decades of buying and selling cars myself. I’m not a dealer, broker, or in the car business, but I’ve found several steps to follow to reach your goal without expending extra time and money. 

How Much Time Should Be Spent Selling A Car

If you want to spend minimal time selling a car and accept less money for the sale, there are ways to minimize the time spent. You can donate/gift the car to a charity, especially if it’s merely a used car or has mechanical or body/interior problems, and you will realize the tax return for a donation.

If the car is in running condition, you could sell it at a local auction. You could also sell it to a friend or acquaintance, but recognize that if there is anything wrong with the car, the buyer may come back to haunt you. 

How to Determine the Classification of a Car

Determining the classification of the car can dramatically influence where and how to sell it. Starting at the least expensive, a used car is one that is relatively common and manufactured in the last 20 years. 

Next is the collector car, which is normally 20 to 50 years old. Then comes the classic car, which is 50 years or older. Interspersed throughout this are the sports cars, specialty cars, hot rods, customs, historical, and movie cars, each group adding value. 

Of course, cars that have been restored/repainted add value. Older cars that remain original carry a special value.  So, spending some time finding out where your car fits is valuable.

How to Determine the Value of Your Car

Today, the internet makes it easy to find out the value of a car by inputting the year, make, and model, convertible, hardtop, sedan, two or four doors, etc. I read Sports Car Market, a monthly magazine published by Keith Martin, which publishes relevant auction sale results every month.  

Where to List a Car For Sale

Today, many cars (except used cars) are sold online via car auction houses or platforms like eBay and Facebook Marketplace. Bring a Trailer, an online auction company, has grown in the last three years to become an 800-pound gorilla that sells over 600 cars a week. 

The larger national auction houses are listed below, in rough order of size:

There are several local and regional auction houses throughout the country. I have purchased many of my cars from The Branson Car Auction, conveniently located in Branson, MO, and I enjoy attending auctions in person! 

But times are rapidly changing to online sales. So, what should you do? You should match your car to the venue. If you have a used car, sell it locally through a dealer or used car lot. Collector cars should be sold via a local-focused website like Facebook Marketplace or local/regional auction houses. 

A classic or special interest car can go through any of the venues discussed, but more potential buyers are found in the larger national auction houses. Of note, the larger, more national venues will take longer to list and sell your car. Newspapers are no longer relevant as distribution has fallen in recent years.

How to Prepare a Car Before Selling

Many of the following are obvious, but I’m always surprised at the lack of preparation for some cars offered for sale. Before selling a car, be sure you complete the following:

  1. Always air the tires, wash, polish, and clean/vacuum the car, or have it detailed by a professional. 
  1. Ensure the car is accurately titled with the correct VIN (check and recheck!). Some classic or vintage cars may not have a VIN.
  2. Inspect the car for damage (including rust) and be sure it runs properly (non-running can seriously erode the price).
  3. You should have the mileage and full history of the car available (including how often it was driven and how many owners it had).

Selling a family car can be frustrating, but knowing how to do it may soften the pain and aggravation of disposing of an important and (perhaps) valuable possession.

Discover the Route 66 Car Museum

Located on historic Route 66 in Springfield, Missouri, the Route 66 Car Museum is a treasure trove for car enthusiasts. Begin your journey through automotive history with a collection spanning from the early 1900s to the 1990s, featuring over 75 classic, sports, and celebrity automobiles. Perfect for individuals, families, and tour groups, the museum offers a captivating experience that celebrates the cars that shaped American pop culture. Click here or call us to learn more about our exhibits and plan your visit!

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The museum features more than 75 classic, sports, and vintage cars.

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We welcome tour buses. Contact us to schedule your visit!  417-459-2452


We welcome small and large groups to the museum. 


To learn more about us and to book your tour, contact us today.