Our Two Cents: How Have You Declined an Offer to Buy Your Vehicle?

Kyle Smith

One of the perks of being someone in our shoes is that we are often in an enviable position when it comes to cars, trucks, motorcycles, or anything in between. Maybe not to everyone we come into contact with, but at least to enthusiasts who have a keen eye for spotting the more desirable vehicles in a parking lot—which often means we’re approached for conversation. And, more frequently than you might expect, offers to purchase our rides. Whenever this happens, I am reminded of a not-so-famous scene from a long-forgotten crime drama about a man who loved his vintage Mustang.

Everyone has their price, I suppose, but for the most part, we tend to be motivated to hang onto our vehicles. Managing a would-be buyer can be difficult, depending on how you deal with them. And that’s what we asked the team here at Hagerty Media, as we wondered aloud how we handle those notes left on our pride and joy asking to contact them with a sales price.

Were we salty, sweet or did we just ghost them like a bad first date? The answer is a profound yes on all counts.

More than you wanna spend, pal.

“My piles of over-restored, highly maintained, undesirable junk normally rest below the surface of appeal to the general public. As they should, as they are the rolling embodiment of the sunk cost fallacy. Well, except for my 2011 Ford Ranger XLT: The one bright spot in my portfolio is this compact truck with a regular cab and manual transmission.

I am regularly asked if it’s for sale, often after it receives a compliment for its condition. My answer usually revolves around “an asking price higher than Carvana lists them on their website.” That ends the conversation quickly, nobody has yet to whip out their smart phone and start checking prices online. Everyone wants a cheap truck, and everyone wants it for cheap.” —Sajeev Mehta

But money can’t buy love?

Kyle Smith

“While on a run to the hardware store for a few bolts to wrap up a project, I came out of the crisp air conditioning of the bolt aisle to the steamy summer humidity. Before pulling my helmet back, on I noticed a slip of receipt paper folded and tucked between the two large gauges. Apparently someone named Tim took a liking to my 1977 Kawasaki KE175 and was interested in purchasing it. Sadly, I was more interested in riding this vintage enduro than sitting on my couch with a small stack of cash in my pocket. I can’t knock the attempt though. Sorry Tim.” —Kyle Smith

Your question is irrelevant?

ucla.edu/Los Angeles Times Photographic Collection

“To avoid this headache, I simply don’t own any cars that anyone would ever offer to buy from me! Problem solved!” —Ben Woodworth

“Sir, I would like to buy your car, now you have a problem.” – Sajeev Mehta

No, but if it did happen…

2006 Chevrolet ImpalaChevrolet

“In a world where I had anything of value, I would pull up the Hagerty Price Guide and request the #1 value for the car.” —Cameron Neveu

“Followed by the classic words, ‘Don’t low ball me! I know what I got!'” – Ben Woodworth

Silence isn’t necessarily golden

Cameron Neveu

“Yes! I street parked my 1986 Mustang over the summer of 2022. Over those three months, three separate people left notes asking to buy it. I didn’t reply to any of them.

In return, I’ve probably left a dozen notes myself and don’t remember ever getting a call.” —Larry Webster

Well, that’s a silly question!

volvo 242

“At least twice a year, some rando knocks on my door and offers to buy the shitbox Volvo 242 that has been growing moss in my driveway for the last eight years. ‘Why would you want to do that?’ I say, and then I close the door.” —Stefan Lombard

Delete, block, and unsubscribe?

Used Car Seller Carvana tower
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“I haven’t gotten any notes on my cars, but Carvana didn’t hesitate to share its ongoing interest in my Cadillac ATS-V, especially at the height of the pandemic. The dealer reached out several times wanting my wife’s car, too, but we both tend to hold our vehicles for a long time. Thanks, but no thanks, automated offerers!” —Eddy Eckart


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    I have often had offers. Some real some fishing.

    Also I get the when you sell I want to buy your car or truck. Too often they don’t have the money when I go to sell. But I have a very good record of selling to the first person that does look at the vehicle.

    I also can say I have made money on every used car I have purchased. I have lost on my new vehicles but I get 10-12 years out of them and still get top dollar.

    I even made money on a 1997 Bonneville SSEI Anniversary edition. I bought it used and had someone fly from FL to OH to buy it. It had over 100K miles but it was very clean and reliable. Oddly no rust even from Ohio.

    Even the C5 I bought it is in prime shape and is sell me red. I could make a $1500 on it already over what I paid. But no sale I like it.

    The “Let me know when you go to sell this” gets me in more trouble than I care to admit. It’s usually only said when someone (and I include myself in this) who doesn’t have the money in hand to make an offer and is hoping that when you call and are ready to sell you are also prepared for a fire sale or at least a heavy friend price discount.

    I’ve put my money where my mouth is at least three times and have good stories and better vehicles to show for it!

    I actually succeeded with the “Let me know when you go to sell this” deal back in 2019. A friend had two 2098 Saturn Sky Redlines and needed money. For the preceding couple years, i always mentioned the “Let me know when you go to sell this” to no avail. Finally it was my chance. For $1000, i bought that Sky. As i started going through it, it seemed like someone took the car apart and tried to put it back together but damaging it all the while. It didn’t cost much in parts, but lots of time and I’m still working on it. It was still a good deal for DIY. I could probably get $6000 or more today. That friend now makes that same, “Let me know when you go to sell this” request of me now.

    I’ve had people ask or leave notes on my Marauders, Scouts and T-bird, that I’ve always turned down or didn’t call. Interestingly for one of the Marauders and the T-bird that happened within days of purchasing them so it was certainly very easy to say, no I haven’t even had it a week yet.

    Yeah, happens occasionally, but when I start talking about the sentimental value of the car (long-time readers will know about my building the Pontiac with/for my daughter – who has since passed away) – most inquirers start realizing it ain’t gonna happen.
    I do have a story though. Happened at a local grocery store. A young couple came over to the car, and the guy was gushing all over it. They left, but shortly afterward, the girl came back and practically begged and/or promised me just about anything (she was quite attractive) if I’d sell it to her. She said that it was the car “for her man” and she just wasn’t going to take no for an answer. I tried out the “sentimental” angle on her, and she looked me in the eye and said, “Your daughter isn’t coming back – the car should go to someone else who needs it”. That made my response MUCH easier: climb in the car, drive away, and hope I never saw either of them again…
    Like Larry Webster, I’ve left notes on cars – and have not once gotten a response. So I don’t hesitate to ignore one left under my wiper blade.

    On a SLIGHTLY different note I’ve left noteson cars offering to SELL them MY car!!! My ’85 LeBaron T&C Mark Cross wagon had succumed to the rust bug but sported a properly sorted re-built 2.6 “Hemi” engine and trans – and immaculate leather interior. I noticed this absolutely rust free base LeBaron wagon sitting in a church parking lot with an oily black stain on the rear bumper and badly sun-baked velour interior so I left a note telling him I had a goof engine and transmission for him – CHEAP. Within an hour I got the phone call. His WAS burning oil, and the timing chains were rattling – and it wasn’t shifting the greatest any more – and his mechanic wasn’t sure it was going to be possible to solve all the issues – so – how much for the motor and transmission??
    I told him $1000 – but for $750 he could have the whole car and the lovely leather interior would swap right in, in placxe of the tattered velour. To say he was happy to give me the $750 was an understatement – and I (even more-so my wife) was GLAD to get it off the driveway without having to scrap the perfectly good parts. 5 or more years later I saw the car again – base Lebaron with Mark Cross interior – still running strong!!

    I have had people express interest in one of my vehicles, but they rarely follow through with a serious offer. I am of the mindset that if you want to buy it off of me, you will pay more than fair market value. Why? I bought it because I want it. I think folks read that in my response and don’t follow up.

    I’ve had several people express interest in my father’s 1969 F100, which is sitting in my driveway. I usually tell them I appreciate their interest, but my father bought it new and it has been in the family ever since. They usually catch on that I’m not going to sell it. Haven’t ever had anyone get upset with me.

    I visited my Dad one day and his neighbor came over and asked if I would sell our Willy’s Jeep. I said it’s a family heirloom and not for sale. My father-in-law bought it used in 1966. He said, “Well, everything is for sale. What is a stupid money price you would take for it?” I said “$10K”. He said “I’ll give you $9500.” I still have it.

    I get asked some variation of that question frequently, sometimes multiple times in one outing. Of course, what they really mean is, “Will you sell me your car for significantly less than what it cost you to get it in that condition.” I find it irritating.

    If they ask whether I’m interested in selling, I simply say, “no.”

    If they ask me how much I want for it, my standard answer is, “More than any rational person would ever pay.”

    Any kind of note to that effect is promptly thrown in a recycling bin without response or consideration.

    Within the last year or so, I have had more than one offer to purchase my 460 cubic inch 600 HP 1966 Shelby A.C. Cobra replica and my 1981 “almost show quality” 40K mile Corvette, silver with glass tops, L-48 all original. These offers came from people who know both me and my cars well. I don’t keep purchased cars for long unless I love them-liking them is not good enough, so I still have both cars. I really need to sell something as I have a ’29 Model A resto-mod coming soon and have no place to store when I’m not driving it. Boo-Hoo. Cry me a river!

    I’ve left notes on cars and had the sellers call me back a few years later, and when I went back to look at the car again, it looked like it had gone through the wringer, and they still wanted top dollar for the car. No Thanks! On the other hand, when I go to sell something, I try to counter offer or I tell them what my bottom dollar is, and they come out and still try to get the car for less (I may be just as guilty at times as it’s just human nature and stark reality). But the best advice that I can give (even though I don’t always follow it myself), is to run the offer by my wife and she always comes back with “Just Sell It!” Which reminds me, Does anybody out there know of a 1932 Ford 5-window coupe street Rod for sale that I can afford?

    They come all times of day and some even in the evening as it sits out front. I tell them “Not for any price” then they make some kinda crazy offer and I repeat not for any price and shut the door. I just built a barn and I am going to put it into there except when I’m driving it.

    I really do need to listen to my wife more, and to follow her advice more. I have lost a few sales by holding out for my bottom dollar when, looking back, I should have taken the offer and made the sale. Times are too tight to be fooling around. “Just Sell It”!

    Never had a note left on my old Supra, but plenty of people have asked if it was for sale. I politely reply “No, I’ve had it too long to sell”…..

    I have had a couple notes left on my ’97 Supra Turbo at car shows that say “if you ever sell the car” or “I’d like to buy your car” but I figure if you are serious you might hang nearby. Besides I have not been looking to sell the car so I never call them if they leave a note. They are likely not serious like this next group who ask “would you sell it, how much do you want for it?” My answer is simple I’m not looking to sell it but everyone has their price so give me a number if you would seriously like to buy it that would motivate me to want to sell it. That usually ends the conversation because they aren’t buyers, they are tire kickers or they are hoping I say some low and silly price.

    We’ve had people ask about buying our Porsche 356 SC, now 57 years owned. The answer is always “sorry, she’s not for sale.”

    Yes, note leavers are hoping you’re tired of owning it and selling has never crossed your mind. If they really wanted a call back they’d leave their offer on the note too.

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