Private sales protocol

Just wondered what was expected if selling a car privately. Normally I would take the first person who stands in front of the car and we agree a price. So my wife suggested I try the market with my TR4 rather than a paint job in the autumn. Anyway I’ve obviously priced it (too) well. I have had several calls. First guy arranges a viewing a week on Sat, but afterwards I also have arranged viewings for the end of this week. First guy contacts me re payment methods and I say well, there are a couple of other people coming, I’ll let him know if it doesn’t sell. He didn’t take that well- saying we had a deal even though no price was even discussed. So have I lost something in translation or is there an etiquette I’m missing?

It can be difficult! I am often asked to sell cars for others who do not want the hassle for whatever reason.
My chosen method follows the way that I would like to be dealt with.
The first person to contact gets to set the precedent. If he calls on a Tuesday & expresses a strong interest but cannot visit until the weekend should be given the opportunity to view & decide. If you need to sell in a hurry you can say that you do not want to hold the car that long & would let him know if you sell in the meantime but if you agree to hold it then you will have to tell the next caller that you will let him know if the first buyer does not buy.
Last year I spotted an absolute bargain but it was 2 hours away. I was the first caller & told the seller that, based on his description, I would be very interested & would buy if the description was accurate. I could not get there until the weekend & would he be prepared to hold it until then? He agreed to do so.
On the Saturday I arranged a lift & arrived at the agreed time. The car was exactly as described & we completed the paperwork over a cup of tea.
The seller informed me that he had at least another 25 callers after mine, many offering to be there within 20 minutes or so with cash if the sale could be agreed over the phone. The seller was a gent & said that he would get back to them if the first caller decided not to buy.
This contrasts with those buyers who insist that they will come “tomorrow” with the cash as the advertised car is perfect for them which makes me postpone any other buyers but who never turn up or ring to cancel the appointment.
Whatever you do, treat all buyers fairly & if you promise to wait for a potential buyer to look before selling to someone else, stick to it.
Finally, try not to refer to a respondant who looks & decides NOT to buy as a time-waster, his expectations may have been greater than the reality & that is why most people need to view. Although it can be annoying!


Hi Mark, thanks for your comments. I have now had some viewings and telephone offers and sold the car. All the potential buyers were aware that if some one else made an offer then I would get back to them to give them an option. I think there was a misunderstanding with the first guy in that he seemed to think he had reserved the car even though he hadn’t seen it or talked about a price. I thought he had arranged a viewing. So when I let him know some other people were coming to see it, I had gone back on “the deal”. I did apologise for my misunderstanding of it but I’m afraid he metaphorically stomped of in a huff complaining about englishmen no longer being gentlemen! I think something was lost in (my) translation originally… All other viewers callers were perfectly friendly and polite as is often the case in the classic car world. All were genuine car enthusiasts except for one scammer.

I am having trouble with “buyers” for my 87 Merc 300D: the first one was very interested, came to see it with a friend, but I wouldn’t let him test drive it without proof of insurance. He never came back.
The second one expressed a keen interested and promised several times to come and see it, never came and I found out from a third party that he is no longer interested.
Now I need to advertise it more widely, where would be the best place to advertise a classic Merc with 7 months carte Grise, obviously for a quick sale?

Your French registered and insured car is usually insured for all drivers. Re the CT, is the car on a Carte Grise VdC? If not you will need to ensure that it has a CT with more than 18 months to run when you sell it. Seven months is not enough.
Have you advertised it on here? Or leboncoin?

I have a pic on SF, in a general discussion of classics. I thought that the minimum CT to sell was 6 months? It’s on a normal CT and limited miles insurance.

Thank you for replying.

To be blunt that photo and no real description of the car, location or price is not going to catch anybody’s attention. If you are serious about selling you need something better.
You have got the CT situation the wrong way around, a common fault. The CT needs to be less than six months old with eighteen months or more left. That is so the new owner can register the car. Limited mileage cover should not stop the insurance covering any driver.

Yes, I agree but I am not at all well, in and out of hospital and no longer able to do the basic maintenance.

The car is much loved and has been excellent, I hoped to save it from the scrapyard but cannot afford a respray and a new ct therefore I must scrap it and hope that my late wife, who drove it from new, but died in 2004, will forgive me!

Apologies for bothering you.


If it runs you can get it CT’d. It does not have to pass in order for it to be sold provided it is sold within two months of the failure.
Fast becoming a classic so worth passing it on!

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I will try, but CT is not an option as maybe with the new rules they could find something critical (not likely) and then I couldn’t drive it.

I will offer it as driveable for repair and re-registration

Fairly sure you can’t do that these days

I do know cases where the Buyer has paid for a CT in agreement with the Seller… so this might work. Need to discuss with potential Buyers.

@anon90504988 is this still possible?

I thought your plan was to sell it? You can do this even if a critical fault was found provided it is sold within the 2 month window. You can drive it up until midnight on the day a critical fault was found. A buyer would then need to trailer it away.

You cannot sell it without a CT test of some sort unless it is to a garage or scrap dealer.

Some do but you would not be able to register the sale on ANTS until you can tick the CT box at the declarations to complete your seller’s section. This can leave you responsible for future offences until the new owner sorts out the vehicle & informs you.

I don’t mean long term, just to drive it to the place of repair!

Then you can do that on the day. “Critical” really means critical - steering about to fail, no brakes, wheels missing - stuff like that. I have only had one vehicle in for repair with a critical fault. It had almost an inch of play on the steering on one wheel!
You would have until midnight to get it to a place it can be repaired, be that at home or a garage.

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Fair enough. Mark has explained how to manage things…