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Turning Junk Into Dollars - Part 2

By Wayne Scraba
Building a car is expensive. No secret, but for many little guy rodders and racers, building a car usually means scraping together pennies to make it happen.  It’s not uncommon to trade labor for parts or to even get a second job in order to finance the build (some even remortgage their homes). There is another option.  And that’s to use the “gold” you already have in your garage.  Really, it amounts to nothing more than digging up the bits and pieces you have, making a complete inventory list and then selling the hardware.  Last issue, we looked at making the list and figuring out the value.  This time around we’ll concentrate on turning that junk into dollars. It takes a bit of work to do it right, but the results literally pay for themselves.  Let’s start at the beginning:
Dirty, greasy parts don’t sell.  Period.  Cleaning your cast off parts is time well spent.  There’s no need to detail the pieces.  Just make sure they’re clean.  

Clean The Grime…
Nobody likes grimy, filthy parts.  Yes, it’s a pain in the you-know-where to clean the parts, but think of it as a second job.  It pays to take the time to clean up dirty hardware before you photograph the bits and offer them for sale.  It’s not a difficult job, and for many components, it’s just a matter of soaping them up and blasting them with a pressure washer.  If the parts are from the interior, it pays to clean and detail them too.
How extensive should the detailing be?  Honestly, most buyers will rather buy an original (vintage) piece that is raw but cleaned up instead of a part that has been painted or otherwise detailed.  It’s a good idea to consider the time and effort it takes to fully detail a used part and then compare it against the price you’ll probably get for it. In most cases, the extra effort required to paint and otherwise detail the parts doesn’t translate into extra bucks.  
There are plenty of places to advertise parts for sale. Websites such as and specialize in hot rod, race car, musclecar and street machine parts. See the text for more detials. 

Marketing 101…
With the parts detailed, where’s the best place to sell it?  Today, online is where it’s at.  Plain and simple.  From a personal perspective, we’ve done the various marque websites and we’ve experienced sporadic results. On the other hand, and are great places to move parts.  Ditto with E-Bay and perhaps Craigslist (if you’re so inclined – and if you’re prepared to put up with the potential for aggravation).  With some of the marque websites, you’ll eventually encounter a select few abrasive members.  To counter that, try this:  Don’t directly list your parts on the website.  Instead, link your Racingjunk or Hotrodhotline listing in your ad(s) on the respective marque websites.  Try it.  The cross promotion works. 
Then there’s the local angle.  There are always some forms of print ads available, but honestly, we’ve found that they don’t exactly make the telephone ring.  If you do decide to advertise locally, keep the wording concise and to the point (you’ll have to because most print ads limit the number of words you can run).  Finally, if the publication accepts photos, include them. They help.
Once you’ve been paid (and only after the money is firmly in your hands), ship your parts. Calculate weight and dimensions first, then get a quote from the post office or freight company. 

Make The Sale…
Let’s assume your parts are in great condition and you’ve priced them well.  Your e-mail should be humming.  How do you get paid?  In our case, we’ve found that cash (naturally), post office, bank money orders, bank cashiers checks and PayPal work.  Needless to say, PayPal takes a percentage cut, so keep that in mind.  And be wary for scammers.  They’re inevitable on various levels. 
Finally, when selling parts, always consider the freight costs. Even basic postage costs can add up. The bigger (and heavier) the item and the further away, the more it will cost. Because of that, we always sell items plus freight.  More below:
Ship The Parts…
Once the parts are technically sold, there is one major rule to follow (and it should be self explanatory):  Never allow anything to leave your hands until it’s paid for in full.  When shipping, it’s really difficult to do better than the Post Office when it comes to shipping (from both a cost and a convenience perspective). Other forms of shipping we’ve used to ship parts include UPS, Fed Ex, local courier or local parcel services or in some cases, Greyhound bus freight.  Most have online rate calculators, which allow you to figure out the exact shipping costs. With large, heavy parts that exceed the Post Office or various courier weight limits, you’ll have to use truck freight.  If that’s the case, be sure to shop the rates. There can be big swings in truck freight costs.