To Flip, Or Not To Flip? That Is The Question

New Garage

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

“Everyone hates a flipper”. We have read that comment countless times here on Barn Finds, so it is with a little apprehension that I share my latest idea with you all. We have tried many different methods of monetizing this site over the years, but have yet to find the secret recipe. Well, we have known it for a while, but out of fear of being called that dreaded f-word, we focused on all the other possibilities first. We have dabbled in buying and selling cars off and on, but never made it a major part of the site. Well, I think the time has finally come to secure a garage and see if we can actually make it work. Don’t worry though, we aren’t going to become your typical used car salesmen. Let me explain our plan.

To get started, we plan to locate one project car per month. We will stick with complete rust-free cars that have some needs and we will cover the whole process right here on the site. We will do our own repairs, clean them up, and then list them for sale online. After the car has sold we will release all the numbers so everyone can see if we made a profit or not. Think of it as an online version of Wheeler Dealers. Then we will start the whole process over again. We are going to try this for a year and reevaluate the plan then. We will still have our normal features everyday so this will just be an added bonus that will make the site different than all the other find sites out there.

We know that some people will not like the idea of us buying and selling classic cars for a profit, but we hope that by staying honest and transparent, we won’t offend anyone. I’ve never particularly cared for people who buy and sell classic cars for the sole intent of making money, but I think we will be fine if we leave every car better than found and we don’t expect unrealistic prices when it comes time to sell. I would like to hear everyone’s feedback on this concept though. Would you like to read about our adventures? Or do you instinctively hate every flipper (except yourself of course) no matter what?

To flip, or not the flip? That is the question…

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Scotty G

    I love the idea; very, very creative! My only personal requirement would be to not turn them into a restomod or do anything other than cleaning them, repairing any mechanical or cosmetic bits, and keeping them as stock / oem as possible. I mean, if I were to do that I would keep things stock. Of course, everyone is free to do whatever they want to with their own vehicles. It’s super cool that you now have the budget to experiment like this, congrats on the success of Barn Finds!

    I think that I’m more jealous of car-flippers rather than I hate them. I wish that I had the guts to take a risk like they do. Most of them are successful and we all know that people usually resent successful people doing what we think that we could do better if presented with the same opportunity as they had. This will be fun to watch, I hope there’ll be updates on the repairs / restoration throughout each project.

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    • Jesse JesseAuthor

      Thanks for your support Scotty! No plans to customize anything as that wouldn’t really be inline with the whole Barn Finds theme we have been pushing – find ’em, fix ’em, and drive ’em!

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  2. mark

    There is nothing wrong with car flippers as far as I am concerned (and no I don’t flip cars either). They put effort into what they do and risk their own cash on the front end hoping there will be a reward/profit with a sale. There is no doubt that there are people that flip cars that are dishonest just like there are dishonest people in every profession however I don’t think it is fair to discredit all because of the actions of a few. I think the idea of 1 car a month is a great one and it should give us all an idea of just how much time, effort and money goes into buying and reselling some of these cars. I look forward to see the results.

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  3. Another Bob

    I think that will be an interesting feature.
    I don’t hate the flippers that are honest with the seller up front. If they plan to make some necessary repairs and invest at least some money it it before putting it back up for sale, I’m OK with that.
    The ones I don’t care for are like the one I purchased a trailer from. The deal on the trailer was fine, but when I told him about my vintage Jeeps, he had all kinds of questions. He claimed he knew where one was for sale and an old Jeep was something he had always wanted to restore.
    I walked him though the purchase, telling him just about everything to look for and evaluating the photos he sent me of it. I thought I was helping him and I guess I was.
    About a week after he purchased it, it was up on CL for $2,000 more that he paid for it.
    I felt a little used.

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    • Jesse JesseAuthor

      Well, I wouldn’t feel too bad. It seems like there are lots of guys out there trying to make a quick buck, but usually they have a hard time moving their car because they are asking way too much.

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    • Roadstir

      I understand that you feel misled because you thought you were educating a steward of the marque, following in your footsteps. He led you to believe he was a long term owner and this influenced your decision to take the time to share your extensive knowledge. He was not upfront.

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  4. PaulG

    “Flippers” get a bad rap. Most of the time the cars they are selling wouldn’t have seen the light of day if it weren’t for them making the discovery…
    I’ve seen a lot of trash talk on here regarding this, and unless it’s blatant, or obvious that someone was taken advantage of, then folks should keep the attitude in check. (Stepping off soapbox now…)
    That said, what a great idea. I hope to contribute by sending some great finds!

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    • JoshStaff

      We would definitely appreciate any worthwhile finds you come across! For the first few, we are going to stick with cars in Idaho, just to keep risk down and so we can easily inspect the cars before hand. As we get more experience, we will expand the radius!

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      • Bob Hadley

        OK, then you can have members forums on colors, Styling Ideas, Within Reason, AND a raffle for the finished product, including, Airfare To Pick It Up And Meet The Crew!
        OR, do one of the readers cars, you can start with MY, ’49 Plymouth Suburban!
        hey, the feedback looks great, lots of great ideas (liked the ” rags in the Dryer stuff, even if they dint smell, they can still ignite,) plus, bring in a volunteer or two, if they can afford it, why not, they have golf vacations, spa vacations. Why not “Resto Vacation!)
        keep up the good work!

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      • Scotty G

        Speaking of Idaho, that seems to be the US hotbed for the Subaru Justy. If you ever run across a nice one, I’m a cash buyer – in 4WD, 5-speed, 2-door trim. Plus a finders fee for BF! Not a car-flipper, a car-finder!

        Hey.. hmm.. that might not be a bad offshoot for another website, “Car Finder”, a division of Barn Finds: let us find your car. (sorry, trying to make it sound appealing to find a couple of cars for me).. (I’m 100% serious, though)

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      • Jesse JesseAuthor

        @Scotty G – We have tried to offer a finder service in the past, but never figured out how to make it scale. We had so many requests that it was impossible to keep up on it. Perhaps we have to revisit that idea though. Thanks!

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  5. Jim C

    Transparency and well written ads, photos, etc, all of that will set your idea apart from a basic flipper.

    Go for it!

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  6. Wayne

    I buy in the USA and sell in Australia . Most think that if I buy a car for 5 and sell it for 11 I make 6 . More like 1 .These car and bike shows rarely give the true cost of flipping . They rarely take into account employees , insurances , shop lease , shipping costs , state and federal taxes and all the other things that add up . Only the backyard dealer buying locally and selling online makes a buck doing these things it seems . I know at our end of the table we have never had to work so hard , look so long and be so picky to make a buck . I admire your attempt to make some extra scratch but it’s alot harder than it looks . I would suggest using an ecommerce site to retail Barn Finds shirts . That I would buy

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    • Jesse JesseAuthor

      I have been buying and selling cars on the side for a couple of years now, so I know it’s not easy to make a profit. It will be fun to see how it goes. As for the t-shirts, we sell a few every now and then. Just keep an eye out for the post because we do them in batches. Thanks!

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    • Tim

      Don’t forget, Those tv shows featuring car and bike flippers have the added bonus of a tv production budget as well.. Things are a lot tighter in the real world

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      • Bobsmyuncle


        And as someone that has watched the film industry at work trust me the filming is the important act not the car building. It isn’t like a couple cameras are scattered, covertly catching moments. That would NEVER work.

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      • Toopack

        I was a producer on a car show for a certain channel that starts with a D and ends in Y. In short…never trust the numbers they show on the screen. These shows are entertainment, not reality.

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  7. KristofColumbus

    An idea on the side : I think that there is money to be made by exporting classic cars to Europe. As we prefer smaller engines, there might be possibilities. A lot of cars that you consider scrap metal could maybe have a second life over here.

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  8. Cassidy

    I have zero problems with flippers, times are tough and if that’s the only way to make money, then that’s what you have to do. Well, I do have one problem with flippers: I despise flippers that will steal an item, knowing full well that the GT350 (or 356 etc) is worth a lot of money, but talking it down so they can brag later how they stole this car or that car and look at all the money I made!
    Knowing that you guys are not like that will make this a lot of fun to read about! Excellent idea for monetizing your site!

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  9. Vegaman_Dan

    Keep in mind that Wheeler Dealers doesn’t account for labor costs as Edd China’s salary is paid for by the production studio, not from car proceeds. If they were running it like a business, they’d be bankrupt in a month. You can’t buy a car for $2K, spend another $2K in parts, take several weeks to complete the work, and then sell it for $4500. That $500 ‘profit’ on one car won’t pay even one person’s wages on the job. But since it’s sponsored by the shop, then they don’t have expenses to worry about.

    Be sure to count your hours and add that shop wage to the expenses to be realistic about the costs involved.

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    • Scotty G

      But, you know that Edd’s labor / labour (as they say) isn’t counted in because the whole premise of the show is to highlight repairs that any one of us could do in our own garages and we don’t charge for our own labor? It has nothing to do with Edd’s labor being paid for by a tv studio, both Edd and Mike obviously both get paid by the studio, the profit (or, loss) from selling a project vehicle has nothing to do with the budget for the show at all. It’s donut (or, crumpet) money for the crew if even that. When they have work done outside of Edd’s shop (i.e., any one of our garages), that’s when they count in the price, not when Edd does the work.

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  10. mark

    I think its a great idea! You guys need to eat also. Keeps the site running also. Sounds like the concept on the Wheeler Dealers show.
    Good luck and thanks for bringing all these great cars to everyone’s attention.

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  11. Gilbert

    I appreciate the idea.
    Most of us “would like” buy and repare an old car…
    …but no time, no money, no ability…
    and all of those ladies ‘ill definitively die.
    Restore a car is permitting a dream to live a little time more…
    If you do it, why not.
    I like dreaming about beautiful and ever youngs cars…
    …thank to you.
    And if you win money, other peoples ‘ill try to do it too.
    Very very good idea for all old cars lovers.

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  12. Frank

    Great idea

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  13. Richard

    For almost forty years I have been on the prowl for barn finds. There are many many cars that have been rescued. Some were beyond saving, but the parts gave life to others that might have not have seen s good end. It takes time and money to locate, transport, and repair, my time and experience has value and I share it with whosoever needs my help.
    I have done what you are proposing to do. My theory is very simple…erase all question marks about the car ie; mechanical, body condition, and whatever else for trained eye slots.
    present it for what it is, and let the next person take our find to whatever level he chooses.

    The bottom of the line is this website and your time has value, you have expenses to cover. All of the true honesty car people are passionate about our automobiles and want everyone to share in this great hobby without feeling like they got burned.

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  14. TLouisJ

    Gotta feed the horse that you ride, young man. Always wondered if you were living off the inheritance of a kind Uncle or something. I’m looking forward to your projects. It will be fun to see how you do with it. The vast majority of potential vintage/classic car buyers don’t have the time and or skills to do the rehab that most of the cars we see on Barn Finds require. You will be doing them (and the cars) a service. Best of luck to you. Terry J

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  15. Eric

    Get started you’re already a month behind

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  16. Jim

    In reality every buyer is a flipper, some just take longer than others to flip.

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    • Dave Wright

      You are absolutely correct. I have argued several times on this forum that everybody flips something……..even if it is just your time. It is how we all make a living.

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    • Rocco

      I agree.

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      It’s true and I think it’s why flippers are held with disdain.

      We build relationships with the vehicles, care and nuture them, struggle with and suffer with them or BECAUSE of them. And invest our time and money.

      When we turn them over it’s often with a heavy heart and if we are lucky the cost of inflation.

      Flippers treat them like a pimp does his hookers, a commodity.

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  17. piper62j

    Great idea.. I’ve been doing it for years.. Most cars make me a profit with some scattered minor losses, but overall, if I didn’t do it for fun, what’s the point??

    Go for it..

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  18. John Holden

    Interesting. Are you inviting investors?

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    • Jesse JesseAuthor

      Probably not John. Thanks for asking though and we appreciate your support!

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  19. WAM

    I would tend to agree with other comments here about ‘flippers’. Not necessarily anything wrong with folks taking the opportunity. I have even considered it from time to time, but I know I would have trouble being dispassionate about who they go to. For me, kinda like selling a puppy.

    Curious, have you thought about how your going to handle geographies. i.e. Only look for candidates within a certain distance or just ship them? Use local readers to act as eyes, or just roll the dice? Will you backlog candidates so you can establish a ready project inventory?

    I am envisioning something similar to the guys at with a more broad intake policy.

    FYI – My guess is there may be a number of regular readers that would eagerly follow a project and gladly pay a market appropriate elevated, or ‘flipped’, price for a sorted specimen from a trusted source. This would be especially true when vetted by the vast knowledge of the readers comments available here.

    Neat idea. I wish you success.

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    • Jesse JesseAuthor

      I like what the guys at Mercedes Motoring are doing too. We are planning to just buy cars here locally for now. There are lots of people hunting though so it might be tough. It’s hard to make any money after shipping cars though too.

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  20. Ian

    I like that everybody realises that there are expenses on every deal and,that not all flips have ‘huge’ profits and, I think it is a great idea,that you are proposing.
    Waiting to be educated on the whole procedure and,learn from your experiences.

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  21. Frankie Paige

    Would a used car salesman be considered a flipper? It doesn’t bother me if people buy and sell cars, the hard part in buying a used car is getting over being pissed when you get screwed over by someone hiding something wrong with the vehicle.

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    • Dave Wright

      That has nothing to do with being a “flipper” that has to do with honesty……..a very different issue.

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  22. Rocco

    Great idea! Can’t wait to see how you do.

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  23. Larry

    This line is why you’re not really a “flipper” in the usual connotation:

    “we leave every car better than found and we don’t expect unrealistic prices when it comes time to sell”

    I look forward to reading about your experiences!

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    • Dave Wright

      The idea of an “unrealistic” price is always determined by the buyer…….most people are not real buyers.

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  24. James Jernigan

    I’m Jealous. Take lots of Pics and shoot some video when you can.

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  25. Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    Best Wishes on your plan… If you were in the Southeast, you could have my place cheap, as at 73 , I’m getting too old…….

    The one thing you will need is balls …because most of the good deals are lost when you have to think too long… 90 percent of the cars I buy, I don’t see them until after I buy them and they get delivered to the shop. I flip more than we restore, and it pays the bills so we don’t work on other peoples cars. anymore. But we do give out a LOT of free help info.

    piper62j has the right attitude… college costs $$$ …so does experience in this business, so chalk the losses up to educational costs..

    Go for it ! Dave

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  26. jeff6599

    Hey, Every person in business where a product is sold that is produced by someone else has to buy it and sell it. The American way. There is no widespread system of wholesale warehouses where a retail outlet can go the furniture people, TV people, appliance people clothing people go to get inventory. Just don’t call ’em a flipper unless you call Dodge dealer one, WalMart one and so on.

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  27. JW

    Wow I can tell I was sick this morning as I’m way behind here. Great idea as long as you say clean it up repair what needs repairing then have decent photos with a good description and finally a profit for your work not a Powerball winnings but a profit for your hard work. I say go for it as it’s a cool idea !!!

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  28. Dave Wright

    I think my best deals have been when I bought a project…….usually pay the asking price…….and sold it to someone with the time and energy to fix it as I found it. Any time you add labor and parts, you have to increase the price, many times to where an ambitious amature can not afford it. I have done many projects when younger and poorer but selling a good project honestly to some one that will put his own sweat and energy into it is very rewarding. The key to,everything is being able to appraise a project as found and what it will take to bring the value up to a marketable and reasonable price. Labor today is so expensive, an ambitious amature with a little guidance can really build equity fast.

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  29. YellowjaxMember
  30. Lee

    Please submit your great idea to the Dealer divison in your state for their ideas of being an un licensed dealer I’m sure they will make you reconsider -before some one turns you in and perhaps a note to your State Sales Tax department would be in order —Those Licensed Viewers will take a dim view of your Down Home on The Farm concept/ Lee

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    • DolphinMember

      Very good advice, Lee.

      I think this plan is a terrific idea for this terrific site, but you don’t want the authorities / lawyers / etc to come down hard on you because you didn’t fill out some form first. I hope that’s all it is and there isn’t much standing in the way of this project.

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    • Jesse JesseAuthor

      Don’t worry guys! Who said this is a “Down Home on The Farm concept”? We have already looked into the legal issues. In Idaho, individuals can sell up to 5 cars per year before having to worry about getting a license. We are looking at a garage that is zoned properly and plan to start the licensing process soon. You must be a car dealer Lee?

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  31. van

    I think the lady that found the D-type should find the project

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  32. fred

    I’ll be the last one to begrudge you a profit on these cars, by age 25 I had flipped over 100. You certainly deserve to make a profit for all the time and energy you invest here. Wish you were closer by as I own a production company (with a new film full of old cars, “Providence” premiering in AMC theaters in Orange CA, Tulsa, Atlanta,Destin,Jacksonville, NYC and Charlotte Feb. 12) and would love to follow you around with a camera and turn this into a reality show.

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    • daleMember

      I have a small restoration shop in Stanton CA with approximately 30 cars working at any given time. We do mainly barn find style restorations of interesting cars with the aim of getting these old jewels back on the road. Very little money in it but the love of the art makes up for a lot. You are welcome to come by and take a look at the process, start to finish, anytime.

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    • JeffStaff

      Fred, does it have anything to do with my home city of Providence? Sounds interesting!

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  33. skloon

    Always remember to get your personal prejudices out of the way when buying or selling, you may hate Pacers but don’t pass a cheap one up- and you may love Gogomobils but beware the market may be a bit small for them

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  34. Dan h

    There are good flippers and bad flippers.

    Good flippers put effort into the cars and represent them honestly.

    Bad flippers do exactly the opposite.

    The secret to successful car flipping is to specialize in 1 or 2 makes and brands that just happens to be in demand.
    Jumping into unchartered waters with an unfamiliar car can put you in the red really fast. i.e: I specialize in Mercedes but after the 40th or 50th car I started getting burnt on them so I decided to go Italian and buy a Lancia. Well, 4 years and $1000’s later it’s still sitting in my garage, on the back burner.
    Bottom line, stick with what you know.

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    • Dave Wright

      I disagree…….with this caveat, if you are trying something new, look at it as a larger than normal gamble. If we don’t venture out we never learn new things and new markets. Another valid idea is it costs a lot of money to learn……mostly of the mistakes we make.

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      • johnforsman

        Hi Dave, you didn’t mention what model Lancia you bought. I have a house in Italy and Lancia prices have been sky rocketing here. The Betas from the 70s are finally starting to pick up in price. 9 years ago I passed on buying a Stratos for $80,000, as I thought it to be a top of the market priced car. I bought this house I’m in instead. The Stratos is selling for $300,000, and my house is slightly lower than what I paid for it.

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      • Dan h

        I value your opinion Dave. Venturing out is healthy and its ALWAYS good to diversify. But, as with many things, knowing a car well and being able to do a damn good job putting it together allows one to be able to demand the highest possible price in terms of resale.

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    • Dave at OldSchool Restorations

      @Dan h …….I, along with Dave Wright, disagree with you too .

      Over the years ( more than 50) I have found lots of cars that were not prepared correctly, were not presented with good info, pictures, etc,… or were not presented to the correct market. We purchased many of them sight unseen, and re-sold them with little or NO work performed on them.. and did it honestly, while we restored many others.
      There is a vast opportunity now with the ‘Net, and frankly, it is possible to locate many more cars than it is practical to restore… and is a good profit segment of the business.
      Also, sticking to one Make, severely limits potential opportunities for profit.
      SOMETIMES KNOWING all about a particular car is not as important as knowing how to do QUICK RESEARCH that is RELIABLE …

      If you sold 40 or 50 Mercedes and then ” found you were getting burn’t ” and switched ( unsuccessfully) to a Lancia which is still sitting, I don’t feel there is much credibility in the rest of your assumptions.

      Dave Wright does it similarly to me, and his earlier advice is very good .

      and we don’t do ordinary cars..

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      • Dan h

        I’ve just wanted to clarify that “getting burnt”only means that I was getting tired of working on the same type of car( w123 coupe & wagon). It’s ok to change things up and yes, I agree that limiting what you specialize in only limits your growth.
        What I don’t understand is, how was I assuming anything in my remarks?
        Oh, and btw, I love my Lancia!! (Flaminia PF Coupé)

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      I agree full heartedly.

      Time/labour cost go down as your familiarity goes up and while you guys seem to enjoy wrenching it doesn’t sound like you are seasoned mechanics.

      You also end up with a stash of spares and people start coming to YOU with cars and parts.

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  35. van

    Please no muscle cars
    TV is full of them

    I think you should have an online discussion what kind of car
    What kind of restoration
    What kind of parts

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    • Gerry

      Agree, really tired of over priced muscle cars ! A good barn type find, honest restoration, should be very interesting.

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  36. Neil

    The idea certainly has merit. You get to keep running and the viewers of the site get to see how jobs are done which will either provide a better incentive to buy from you or serve as instruction for their own attempts.
    Another avenue you might want to consider is acting as broker for those who want good projects but cannot travel too far from home?

    Other than this the only caveats I have are echo’s of those above – keep to stock/EOM output – no customising (unless the project was already done that way) and cover a broad spectrum of models, not just your favourites.

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  37. van

    Most shows don’t explain why they maid their decisions.
    Why that engine, or brakes, or trans.
    Where did they get parts.

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  38. van

    If you change an engine don’t automatically go for the chevy LS.
    Is a straight 6 or turbo 4 a better choice.
    I don’t want a sponsor but Rockauto is a great supplier at great prices that we can all see.

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  39. Donnie

    Sympathy for the flipper man

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    • ydnar

      I was thinking Steppenwolf, “The Pusher Man”!

      No offense intended, just funnin’!

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  40. DolphinMember

    This is a great idea. Do it!

    Agree with Dan h….there are good resellers and then there are flippers. The good ones find interesting and worthy cars that are reasonable projects and not just total rust buckets. They add value by cleaning them up, figuring out what they need, and maybe doing some repairs, as you suggested. There’s time, effort, and cost to all of that, so getting a fair price that’s above what was paid to buy the car is part of the deal.

    May the Force—–and access to lots of old cars to choose from—-be with you.

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  41. Derek white

    Good idea! My wife would never let me tie up so much of our savings in old cars if I didn’t sell one now and then for a profit. I work on them a bit, drive them a bit, and when another great deal is found I have to let one go. I could make more money if I had more turnover and less emotional commitment but I get some excercise, a break from the computer screen, and a lot if satisfaction from being a link in the preservation chain for some special cars.

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  42. Bob Hadley

    Hey, flip one a month, or so, plus, you detail what you’re doing? Educational site, could we have questions and answers too? Great idea, a forum for restoration! Good Gravy, great idea!
    go for it, or as some would say
    “Get ‘Er Done!”

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  43. HoA Howard AMember

    I think this is a great idea. Personally, I can’t afford to give any money to the site, and it’s obviously not free to do this, so whatever it takes to keep the site up and running, and with the info you guys have access to, it’s almost a no-brainer. I’m THE worst salesperson on the planet. I couldn’t sell blankets to the eskimo’s. I’ve had the worst luck selling anything,( I talk too much and scare off the buyer) but with the knowledge of the staff, whatever car is chosen, it will be represented well, and we can almost be guaranteed, a good informative description and quality pictures. Again, many people rip on others for a crummy ad, but we have to remember, most people don’t sell cars much, and may not know how to write an ad. ( or what people really want to know) I don’t hate flippers, this is America, and Capitalism is almost based on someone flipping something. I hope it goes well, and I try and turn BF’s on to everyone I know.

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  44. ydnar

    If money is no object, Take Dave Wright’s advice.

    A person that buys a non running car, gets it running nice and makes it dependable is NOT a flipper.

    If you look hard enough, folks that specialize do better, they may not have as much “fun”, but they don’t put themselves in a hole either.

    I do not think there is a profit in your idea here, unless you hit a homerun everytime you buy a car. A non-profit might make more sense. Your readers could make donations and you could help less fortunate souls get to the store, or to the Dr.’s office. I will support your effort no matter which way Yugo!

    Here’s your first project:

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  45. Bob Hadley

    OK Jesse, if they didn’t like “Good Gravy”
    How about “Ratcheting Wrenches” ??

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  46. vadimivanovich

    It’s a great idea that will certainly keep us following and inspired. Flippers are only a problem because of the (well deserved) reputation many of them have earned. Call me crazy, but I *want* every deal to be a win-win. I’ve made out like a bandit before but was left with a heavy conscience. I’ve been ripped off before too. The only way to go is the straight and narrow. It works, and makes everyone happy. I also don’t do this for a living, thank goodness. It’s way more fun if I’m not relying on the income. Kudos to you all for giving it a shot. I know you’ll set the right example.

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  47. Tom

    Good for you and good luck! What is it they say about a man who loves what he does, never thinks of it as work?

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  48. dawn nettleton

    great idea…. and we can follow what you are doing and learn a few lessons too….

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  49. bcavileer

    Who is bankrolling this venture? If it is your gamble and you are in it for love of the game, GREAT! If you are involved with an investor, look out!! I was there several years ago. Everything was great untill the investor’s advisors found other uses for the money that they promised much better returns on. A really cool collection was blown out before the projects could reach a proper level of repair. E type jags, fiat osca cabriolets, a Dino, MGTC a MGTD a Topolino , datsun 2000 roadster even a kaiser darin! The same dream, fix up what was needed, do it right and make a little on the sale to keep it going. Watch out who you get in bed with. Be sure they have the same dreams. Investors want returns, and want it fast. Not in this occupation. Good dream though, I still dream it too.

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  50. ydnar

    I’ll be the first to ask, to whom are you referring?

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  51. JW

    Ditto !!!

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  52. Nessy

    I have had a dealer’s license for ages. It’s much harder to get today. You have to have a front lot with a sign, an office with a land line phone and you must be open a set number of hours to start with. Dealer plates and insurance cost alot of money everywhere you look. I work with insurance companies so this is where many of my cars come from. I sometimes buy and sell out of the salvage auctions like Copart and IAA but forget getting involved with those places. I find that there are just as many good deals on the public market. I think you can sell 7 cars a year max before you are considered a true car dealer. Make sure you put the cars in your name before you resell. Don’t screw around. Do things the right way. You can loose that license in a blink if you make too many mistakes. I am also in the towing business and I have a retail building with renters, which is never easy but let me tell you, buying and selling cars has been one of the hardest businesses I ever started. It’s not all fun and games. Sometimes, you will be sitting on your cars, and your invested money, for some time…. I hope you go for it, just be ready for the tough issues that will come along with this business. Best wishes and keep moving forward in everything you do.

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    • Dave Wright

      A dealers licence is not that tough here in Idaho but still not easy. These are state and local regulations. Off course if you live in the people’s republic of Boise it could be more difficult than here in Washington County (Idaho)

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  53. Mike_B_SVT

    I agree with Van’s comment, about having an online discussion about the car. No one person can be expected to be an expert on all models and variations. But you have a very diverse knowledge base here that you can tap. I think “we” could be a useful tool for you, as far as helping to verify various facts and details, as well as past experiences on things to watch out for / how to fix specific problems that a particular marque may have.

    I think it will be fun to follow along. Good luck in your endeavor!

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  54. timothy h

    I think you have a really good idea. Maybe this will encourage younger individuals to become more interested in the restoration process which often goes hand in hand with restoring an old car/truck (usually) that has sat outside and shown its age, until somebody decides to bring it back to life. I did a few in my time and have met some great people from mechanics to car owners at car shows. An interest I have really started to enjoy more and more, I think it is a great idea

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  55. DavidMember

    I’d like to see what ya’all can do……I know that it’ll be fun. I’ve been doing it for almost 2 years, and have had a blast doing it. Also….I’ve learned a lot about a particular make of vehicle that I’ve picked to work on. I buy “non-running” vehicles…..and get them running. This now becomes a product that the collector will be more apt to buy. I don’t do any bodywork….or paint…or electrical. As some people love the “Rat-Rod” look. Most new collectors are not specialized in the “mechanic’s” trades. I feel that I fill the gap that enables them to at least get a drive able vehicle. Ok…..sometimes I fix the brakes too….that’s another hard job for most hobbyist.
    Keep “wrenching”
    David at Rough & Ready

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  56. BobD

    I think you can provide a ‘service’ that many who follow the website might take advantage of. I’m thinking about those out here who would work on a ‘driving’ project, but could not work with a dead car. So many worthwhile project cars out there that need basics brought up to safe function to make a driving project.
    Best of luck in the process of trying it out.
    I’d also add that you don’t need to make a ‘profit’ if you can cover all your expenses.
    Expenses includes paying yourself a reasonable rate or salary and holding and building a fund for improvements/repairs to facilities and tools.

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  57. Dave Wright

    I have a busisness degree and 50 years experiance dealing with automotive, marine and industrial marketing and operation. Off course, basic busisness principles always apply. But in my experiance amatures that attempt to turn a hobby into a profession frequently make the same mistakes. First, they let overhead overcome profit…..and second, they don’t understand the relationship and differences of Wholesale to Retail. You can’t pay retail prices and expect to make a profit selling at retail. In the old days of live in person auctions, we could always see the amatures. When the old pros stopped the amatures continued to bid. They would show up to a few auctions and never to be seen again. Off course, there are many pratfalls. One of my favorites is the guy that lost money on whatever and just gives up. So…..instead of learning where he made the mistake and taking a lesson from it…..he just lost money for nothing. To be really successful, you need to develop a network. Learn where you can get a 2000.00 paint job for 750.00 or that it is not worth your time to change a windshield because there are specialists that can do it for next to nothing in no time at all. Busisness is an art, not a science and everyone’s painting looks a little different but the basics always win out in the end. My brother has a shop with 14 full time employees, 4 just at the front counter. He is on the national board of the ASC and several times a year travels to other shops to advise (and learn) how other shops operate. He can nearly always improve the busisness by a high percentage. No one is good at everything, you have to learn who is the salesman and who is the wrench…….let people do what they are good at. Be very tight with the check book, avoid recurring expenses, all basic stuff. It will be an adventure…….no one can expect motr than that.

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  58. Bubba Smith

    I think its a great idea and will certainly distinguish Barn Finds from other similar sites. As a reader I would be interested in reading about your finds, actions taken to spruce them up and the costs/effort associated with same. Having a window into the financials would certainly be interesting.

    My hat’s off to you for your willingness to do something new/different with your brand. I wish you much success.

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  59. dave H

    Much as I do not like the concept of a “flipper”, I have to confess that I was one for a while in my teens/early 20’s. If I found something that I knew I could make a profit on, I did.

    There were times when I bought & sold on the same day. My record was about 3 hours of “ownership” between buying it & selling it. Of course, in those days, (early-mid 1960’s) you could buy a ’55 Ford 2 dr sedan for $100 and sell it for $150 in one afternoon for a 50% markup!.

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  60. jim s

    this is going to be fun. it might motivate some of us who are on the sideline, just watch, to get back in the game. seeing the numbers will be a good learning experence also. so what will the first vehicle be? maybe something from the BF fleet.

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  61. Healeydays

    You need to make a living and this site can’t just be a hobby,
    so my opinion is

    GO FOR IT!!!

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    • Al K

      I’ll second that

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  62. Peter R

    A great idea and over time you will refine and develop your plan as you learn more about the in and out of buying, fixing, and selling. At least you already have a wonderful sales outlet and have potential purchases sent to you every day. Believe me that saves many hours of work. I typically own 5-7 cars at any one time and keep them from 30 days to three years or until I get bored. Usually there is at least some repair work done during my ownership. If that makes me a flipper so be it. Given all the hours I spend looking for new purchases, etc. I doubt my “pay” exceeds minimum wage. But then, I am making a few dollars from what started as only a hobby and can barely be described as a real business today.
    Following your experiences will only add to the enjoyment I get from this site.

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  63. jeff6599

    And when creating a write up be sure to check your grammar and use spellcheck or a dictionary. Goes to credibility. You only get one chance to make a good first impression.

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  64. Pete

    Agreed. Just go for it. Does it matter what everyone thinks?
    Pick the cars that you want to restore. Then share with everyone.
    Good luck and have fun.
    Isn’t that what it is all about?

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  65. Doug Towsley

    I think a few things to keep in mind will make the difference between ruining a perfectly good hobby, and learning how to run a business and make a living.
    First, the rules on dealers and selling all varies by location. Sounds like they at least looked into it. But here in Oregon they USED to really monitor backyard dealers and flippers, not so much anymore and with the internet there is no lack of aspiring flippers. Secondly, I know people who buy and sell to support their hobby (Addiction) and some its all about making a fast buck, I know a lot of sharks who We all just wish would move on to real estate or Beanie Babies or something. No ethics no morals.
    So its ALL in how you operate. Its true that often nice guys finish last, but the vintage vehicle world is also small and insular. Its easy to get a bad name. I ran a shop for many years and made many mistakes. I will openly admit it. What still makes me furious is the ones where i did everything right, or went the distance to do the right thing and still got burned. You date a sheep just once, forever afterwards you will ALWAYS be known as “That Sheep F**ker”.
    Theres 2 guys in a particular locally, Some of the members of a local vintage club I will not name voted that these 2 guys need to die. Killer of cool machinery. They actually voted on it. None of them will actually do anything about it, None of them want to be involved, None want to go to jail, however they agreed it was a good idea and someone else should do it. I found that kind of funny, but both of these guys have gotten a well deserved reputation of really sleazy behavior. So, you reap what you sow.
    Finally, When it comes to flipping, I always did it, I grew up not exactly poor, but not wealthy either. I figured out early on I was unlikely to ever have the means to just go out and purchase what I wanted. So i learned to make it happen by looking for opportunity. Trades, barter, or buying a package deal, sell off part, and keep the rest. I also learned skills I couldnt afford to pay others for. Body and paint, engine building etc. So nothing wrong with “Flipping” per se as you can sit back and dream about something, or go out and make it happen.
    As to the projects themselves. I REALLY REALLY get tired of the polish and detail flippers. It annoys me to no end to see guys buying up stuff, fluff & Buff, and then want to make a buck. Sure, sometimes it just happens but if that is your ENTIRE business model its flawed from the start.
    I value and admire people who bring something to the table. I respect those who work hard, and restore or build something, or bring something back from the dead. Those TV shows almost always get it wrong,. and I totally agree with the reality is none of those shows are honest. They CANNOT run a business that way.
    And as far as vehicles staying stock??? LAME! Some vehicles need to stay stock. I have bought up vehicles just to save them from customizers. But some, are just not practical. And some, its just a better idea to upgrade or modify. I have several Rat rod projects that will never be restoration candidates,. But make an awesome donor for a ratrod custom. So their IS value to that! I specialized in vintage vehicles that in many cases were factory defects. Why the hell would i want to restore them back to the defects they were? So, look carefully at each project. Some restore or keep stock, but some have real value in them as something else. It all depends on how you do it. Nothings perfect and Mistakes will be made. Best of luck with the venture.
    One final note however, is I once lived in Idaho. Mt Home AFB,. 366th TFW. There is some AWESOME vehicles up there in famous potatoes. (Do they still make the license plates with that?) but it can also be a hindrance for selling. You have limited shipping options and few people want to drive that far to pick up. A vintage vehicle in LA will outsell a better deal in Kalispell Montana or Rupert Idaho. Look on the shipping website Forward Air. They dont even have terminals in many of those states. Cheers and best wishes

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  66. Shane

    Heck yeah! Why not. I’m a previously enjoyed (used) car/truck/Harley dealer. In the past 2 years I’ve been flipping a few classics, oddballs, firetrucks at my shop. Sure the used camrys civics etc pay the bills day to day BUT the attention these other units draw is amazing. I had a 1962 Chevy II Wagon with a 1992 Lincoln power train this summer, flat black car, red rims, white walls. I COULD’T BUY the attention it and exposure it gave me. The lookie loos need cars even if not buying this classic, we gain sales through the traffic.
    I think if you go for it and have fun with it, maintain your passion and don’t get too hungry for a buck you will enjoy it and do alright indeed. Most people don’t have the guts to go for it and make it happen. Stay polished, know your numbers and market and really take a good look at the buy before you commit. If you buy stuff and flip it, hey it was for sale to begin with….you didn’t hold a gun to the sellers head to make the deal, someone was going to buy it, might as well be you!
    Have some fun with it! I do! Cheers from Nova Scotia

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  67. Rancho Bella

    What is flipping? no more than getting items for X and selling it for Y
    So what………….for all you people that complain about flippers, you better never buy food, gas, property and anything again.

    You complainers are simply angry you didn’t get the item first so you could make money

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      What you describe is a business. And for that matter nearly every business has a defined retail and wholesale evaluation and accepted profit margin.

      A Flipper being a colloquial term has an implied negative connotation because they operate outside the accepted norms of the industry. Generally they are screwing the supplier or the buyer.

      The general concept of capitalism often is construed to accept this practise (strong survive). But in reality a business needs to build solid relationships on both ends.

      A Flipper may get away with this unscrupulous practise, perhaps indefinitely because of the lack of a steady supplier and customer base. However it STILL goes against the norms of good business.

      Further most of us in this game are doing it as a hobby for enjoyment and for the sense of community. We have a desire to nuture the hobby and it’s future and the community we share it with. To see our fellow hobbiests get taken advantage of, or the hobby threatened by unwarranted inflation is offensive.

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      • Dave Wright

        When these guys talk about “capitalizing” …………that is a busisness.

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  68. PackardMike

    Great to see you daring to live your dream! I and many others will be able to live vicariously through you! I check your site 3 or 4 times a day & love it. Now I’ll have to step it up to 5 or 6!! Looking forward to the education. Best of luck on top of your knowledge & experience.

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  69. Casey

    I don’t consider you a flipper if you add value that someone else failed to. That can include fixing or improving things, or just marketing your wares effectively to create appeal.

    I think you should go for your ideas and use this site to document both the successes and the failures along the way. Best of luck, and be prepared to fail a few times before you find success.

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  70. Lee Hartman

    Jesse, sounds like what you plan on doing would actually educate people on the fact that it’s not a huge money maker like on TV. Besides, to me “flipping ” is when you resell the rig right of the trailer you hauled it in on. I have done that, but it was never my original intention. Sometimes someone sees you and follows you home and they want the car as is, would you mind leaving it on the trailer and delivering it to my place kind of deal. Then they offer you a price you can’t walk away from. I like to do enough fixing to know that I’ve made an improvement on it’s condition.

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  71. Charles in TX
  72. John

    When selling any used vehicle it all comes down to disclosure. Do you disclose everything about the cars condition or do you leave it up to the buyer to “discover” for themselves?

    I think this is a great idea, can’t wait to see how it works out.

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  73. Jason Houston

    If you could stick to the subject and not drag in so many 80s and 90s non-collectors cars and, common foreign stuff, the site would appeal to a lot more people.

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    • Jesse JesseAuthor

      Well, I’m afraid the subject isn’t yours to define Jason. Time just keeps passing and before you know it those 80s and 90s cars are going to become collectible. In fact, many already are.

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  74. OA5599

    Plenty of great points have been made on this topic. Transparency is one that resonates with me. Keep transparency/honesty as your prime directive and everything else will take care of itself.

    Thanks for this website. I’m looking forward to the first installment.

    Flip on!

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  75. RBTempe

    I like the idea and look forward to seeing the results and hope for success. I have had a similar idea myself. Possibly take unfinished projects (within reason) finish and sell.

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  76. Andy


    Seriously, if I lived nearby, I would probably have a new hangout spot! My game plan, if I can scrape a few grand together, is to build myself a decent garage to be able to work on the family vehicles, and maybe, just maybe get a great deal (cheap, because I’m cheap!!!😅😅) on a barn find of my own to repair back into decent working order!

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  77. bill

    Unless you are happy with very little, Jesse, I think your idea to “monetize” this site by refurbishing and selling one car each month is a dud. I’ve been “flipping” classic cars for 40 years now, the first 10 on the side, the next 30 as a business, and it’s hard work. My place is internationally known, but I’m still towing a 25-year-old flatbed trailer with a 10-year-old truck and live in a rented cottage. On the flip side of the coin, I’ve had a lot of fun doing what I love and have been my own boss for the past 40 years.

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    • Dave Wright

      I actually agree with you. I have made a lot of money buying and selling but to me, cars are too narrow of a target. I have made my living in marine salvage and equipment mostly with a large interest in old interesting vehicles. We (my dealer buddies and I) have always been amused at people who buy an asset to,sell it for a 20% profit. If you are buying something to drive…….that is a good deal….but if you are trying to make a living, you are upside down. Most of us won’t even consider a deal without doubleing our money. There are exceptions off course,and most of us have great deal stories…..but trying to make a living is a totally different issue. Last year, I was looking through a yard in Payette. There was an old John Deere tractor converted to a forklift sitting out front. I had noticed it for months as I drove by and had really stopped to look at some other automotive stuff. When I went in to see about prices and things, I casually asked about the old lift. The woman at the desk (the owner) went on and on about how it was home built, it ran well and they wanted 1200.00 for it. Well, I know equipment. This was deffinatly not home built. So, I noted the the information on the data plates. Later that night I did a search. Well…..the last one that was sold brought 15,000.00 at a John Deere collector auction 2 years ago. It was a rare conversion done by a famous company, 28 total were built. I went back the next morning with cash……..advertised it the afternoon. It sold in 3 days to a huge collector in Georgia for 12,000. He sent a semi within 3 days to pick it up. It was a good deal for me and the buyer…also cemented my reputation in the area about being able to do a deal, but to make a living……you have to do two of those a month, it costs 20K a month just to cover my expenses. Those are hard lessons that we all learn……so, if I can do that every 10 days…..I have a good month. Luckily I have other income streams in my busisness to help support me but it is never easy.

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      • Dave at OldSchool Restorations

        yup ….Dave Wright, I said, You were doing things similar to our 50+ year pattern… success is sweet ! Knowing how to quickly research is invaluable.
        The current cylcle is about 20 years old ( Internet caused huge changes) …Newcomers are at a severe dis-advantage, and knowing what others have learned, and developing your own BUSINESS plan, but not trying to re-invent the wheel with ideas that have already proven to fail is a good approach.

        Creativity is good, but only if you have the resources to gamble.

        Looking forward ONLY works when you look back , then look around at today & tomorrows conditions. Things change, like the Dollar Exchange Rate which can totally blow last years plan for 2016.
        Again, newcomers are at a severe dis-advantage and EXPECTING THINGS TO BE FAIR IS DELUSIONAL.

        There is a big divide between a hobby attitude which is costly,
        and a business approach which must be profitable.

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  78. Woodie Man

    Sounds like a great idea….have to make a buck. “Flippin” to me is the guy who buys the little old lady;s car and doubles the price claiming not to know too much about it. Anytime I see a car for sale and the seller knows zip…to me that’s a red flag for a flipper. I’ve followed a different path. I buy them hold them and drive them, I restore them as needed.sometimes doing less than I want to as today I’m never sure what it is people like.

    So as a rule I try to buy one owner cars or mostly original cars with only a couple of owners. ………and then I hold them way too long. Oh well I’m a car guy I love ’em! More than money obviously!

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      I agree and my personal ethics just don’t allow for it. I’m a sucker and will always be broke LOL.

      The story above by Dave made me cringe (no offence Dave) I could never keep that kind of profit without guilt.

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  79. Charles

    Sounds like a fun feature!

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  80. Wayne S.K.

    I for one can’t wait to see the project take off. Hurrah! (however, please don’t drop a POS 350 Chevy SB and a TH 350 in everything that comes down the pike! JK ;) )

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  81. Ranco Racing

    A lot of comments on this topic. Too many to read all of them, especially the very long ones. I have just one comment. I believe it is a good idea if you purchase the project car as high bidder, but if you buy it before anyone else has a shot, i.e. using inside information, I would consider that unfair.

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    • Jesse JesseAuthor

      @ Ranco Racing – Don’t worry, we will stick to our local market and won’t hold the good reader submissions back.

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  82. Inacoma

    Looks like you are well supported !! Go for it !

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  83. Doug

    Looking forward to it!!

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  84. Jose

    Sounds like a fun project. Just wish I had that kind of time, auto know how, an most of all $s. Good luck. Look forward to your reports.

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  85. Bill

    My Kids will be looking for some fixer uppers I will keep you in mind

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  86. tepesquintle

    Good luck to you. I’ve sold a few cars lately: some were for friends (87yo with ’65 Catalina) or were freebie projects that were beyond my resources (rusted out ’63 Ghia ‘vert, ’76 Yamaha, ’70 Honda N600). I can safely say that I have more-or-less broken even and, most importantly, I had fun fixing and selling, and then seeing the cars go to loving homes. Selling relatively low-value cars, it is easy to compromise and make happy buyers.
    The comment about exports is spot-on. Of the handful of cars I have sold most recently, one went to a collector in Poland, another to a private collection in Saudi Arabia, and two to collectors here in Texas. I’m about to have two more empty bays in my shop and am planning to fix/sell a Saab or so per month as well as the odd Mercedes and Porsche. BTW, I have made far more selling old tools than old cars!

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  87. martin

    Go for it! There are a ton of cars out there that need saving, and if you can even put a small dent in getting cars that might otherwise be relegated to the pick n pull back on the road then it’s all for good right? I agree with what Vegaman says. Wheeler dealers doesn’t add in Edd’s time. There’s an opportunity cost where you could be otherwise bringing in cash in other areas when you’re spending hours in the shop wrenching. So I would track your hours in very carefully on your first couple projects to understand how much you’re really getting “paid” to do this. For each car I buy I try to put together a simple excel spreadsheet to track costs. Then you have to add in a flat rate for “shop supplies” – consumables that will be used on more than one project. You’re going to have to evaluate each project and crunch the numbers carefully. There’s a fine line between getting a car back on the road and crossing into restoration. we all know too well what a Pandora’s box classic cars can be. I was working on one of my project cars this weekend, (see pic) and even though we thought we were done with metalwork, some last “cleaning” resulted in almost a whole weekends worth of metal replacement.

    Last thoughts- consider finding a used hoist – it will make your life a ton easier. They’re out there. Also, see if you can find yourself a cheap or free washer dryer set on CL and put them in the shop. Buy yourself a bunch of shop rags at Harbor Freight and just wash them as you use them. this will save you a ton on paper towels and garbage – and they work way better than paper towels. I have a bucket that I fill with them as I use them, then I throw them in a hot wash with a good dose of bleach and detergent using whatever is cheapest at the store. They clean up great, and can be reused over and over.

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    • Jesse JesseAuthor

      @ martin – thanks for the tips!

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      NEVER put a used rag even washed into a dryer. ESPECIALLY in a shop loaded with wood pallets.

      Not to preach but as a fire fighter your post combined with that photo make me twitch.

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      • Martin


        Sorry to mislead you – that’s a different shop, in Europe, no washer/dryer there. And I guess im lost on the other part of the comment – the rags, after washing come out clean, no solvent smell at all. I guess I took it as common sense that you wouldn’t put a bunch of rags that smelled full of solvent into a dryer, I’d just wash em again – and I guess you could certainly hang dry em.

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      • Bobsmyuncle

        Please be careful. I don’t like to preach but smell or not it’s considered a very unsafe practise.

        Lots of other places to cut costs!

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  88. Paul Jones

    Great idea. I like it. And no problem with you making a profit.

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  89. Pete

    Your not wrong for thinking it, or doing it. So far I can say that your honest men who have the same passion for keeping these old cars going as the rest of us. I am by nature a purist. Meaning I want a car as close to stock as possible after any work has been preformed. If you adhere to that mindset I think you will be more successful. Most people that I have met that want a customized car or rat rod etc. Want it done up the way they want it done up, not how someone else thinks it ought to be done. As stated previously it is not hard to get in over your head time or money wise in a project. I have learned a lot over the years when it comes to trying to FLIP something be it a car or some other antique. First thing is, you make your money when you buy it, If by some chance you do pay full retail when you buy the car and you realize it early on before you sunk anymore money into it you can always sell it for what you paid for it. If you can wait long enough you can still turn a profit. Second stick with what you know. Not always what you love. I love early Mercedes SL’s but my budget would really only allow for me to buy a few parts for one usually not a whole car. LOL. Also I do not know near enough about them to be considered an authority or go to guy about them. Now if you want to know about early Triumph Spitfires, Volvo Amazons, BMW’s from the 70’s, GM cars from 1950 on up to 1972 I could be very helpful. Even some Fords and Mercury’s.

    Another thing to take into consideration is what dollar value cars do you want to dabble in? It is a lot easier to find a person with say less than $1500 to $5000 bucks than it is to find someone with more than that kind of money. The 5000 to 15,000 are the next level folks, then 15k to 30K after that the air starts getting a lot thinner and folks with that kind of flow fewer and farther in between. Yeah I know you can take a high dollar car to one of the big auction houses and flip it there. However as I have seen on Gas Monkey you can loose your you know what pretty easy a few times before you hit a big lick. So investing in a Lambo or Ferrari may not be in your best interest unless you luck up and find one dirt cheap.

    Something else I have learned the hard way is just because I have put together enough scratch to buy a convertible mercedes of some kind doesn’t mean I have the budget or skill to maintain and drive it. An oil change at the dealer is around $125.00. Keeping current on the periodic inspections A or B is going to run $500 or more and that is if everything checks out ok. If you actually do need to fix something then your going to have to dig a lot deeper.

    If your good at keeping track of what your spending on any given car as well as the parts for repairs it may require, then at least you can figure out if your actually making money. I’m pretty sure you already know everything I have written. I do wish you the best of luck with it though. I feel like you will represent the cars your going to sell honestly and accurately. If you stick with getting them mechanically sound and safe to drive and perhaps avoid getting really deep into a full resto with paint and interiors and such you will be more successful and turn a quicker profit more often than if you did go all out.

    An old friend of mine told me once that you can’t fail if you turn a profit with each sale even if all you make is a $100 bucks. Not every deal will double your money. You may have to buy and sell 10 units before you do get one that doubles your money. A quick nickle is sometimes better than a slow dime.

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  90. Barry Thomas

    Jesse, I like your idea. Since this is a capitalistic society, I also see nothing wrong with buying something low and selling it to make aprofit. Afterall, the seller didn’t have to sell it to the flipper in the first place. Your project will be fun to watch. Good luck!
    Barry Thomas’ “Wheel to Wheel” blog

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  91. William H

    Sounds like pretty much everyone is behind you in support of your idea. Lot of good ideas above about saving money, like the shop rags and a cheap washer and dryer. Used tools (such as lifts, hoists, industrial shelving) are plentiful and had for sometimes 1/3 the cost of retail at surplus dealers. Saving money is just as important as making it, imho. Also, don’t dismiss the junkers that can be had for next to nothing or maybe even someone paying to haul them off. If someone will give you $100 to haul off a rusted shell and you can get $200 for hauling across the scales at the local scrap yard, well, that just gets added to the + column. I’ve seen people pick up cars at the sheriff’s auction for literally $10 with the intention of hauling it straight to the crusher.

    Increase your networking, take advantage of the incredible pool of experience and information you have in your readers and most of all, as has been mentioned many times above, keep it honest, straight and above board with your builds and you’re already further down the road to success than many people are when they start.

    Best of luck in your endeavor.

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  92. Dave C

    Will you be buying cars from those that list on your site? (brilliant BTW), or will you be scouring the interwebs and cruise meets (or both?).

    I do about 6-10 cars per year myself, I have a dealer’s license and a shop but it’s strictly a hobby at this point, I sell software as a day job (z-z-z-z-z-z), the trick is finding the right car for the right price that still has some upside in it after the required updates and repairs – it’s kind’a like day trading to most people. But if you’re careful it can be very rewarding and a fun way to make some extra cash. Integrity is the hook here. if you don’t have it you won’t be in business very long – car guys talk. I’ve been doing it since 1999 with Mopars mainly – it’s like buying an old piece of furniture and refinishing/restoring it then selling it to fund the next project… have at it and good luck!!!

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    • Bob Hadley

      Dave C would like to talk with you about MOPARS, have an old one would like some insight.
      Give me a shout

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  93. Bobsmyuncle

    I’m curious is this venture intended to be your sole occupation?

    I ask for a couple reasons. One is that as great as much of the advice is (and I’m being very sincere) a lot of it is relevant to an actual brick and mortar, self sufficient business as opposed to a side venture to make a few extra bucks.

    Now if you are looking at garages (buying or renting?) I assume this is a full on business.

    That would add an incredible burden to the venture. Money will truly be the sole focus. And stress WILL result.

    I’ve seen a number of friends and associates try to make a living from a hobby. Sadly whether the business was successful or not the hobby always suffered. Something to keep in mind.

    Is there any way you can use garage space from a buddy or family member? Or maybe rent space as a collective? Perhaps even sub renting space? Any way to reduce the initial overhead will keep the stress down and the fun up!

    I have given this a LOT of thought myself. My angle was to bring US cars to Canada. The recent downturn of the dollar has blown that out of the water.

    For ME as a fire fighter I have a steady income to survive on and time to fiddle in the garage. That relieves the financial stress and allows me a more moderate need for return. My hope was simply to keep my hobby from costing me so much as opposed to keeping a roof over my head.

    So my focus has changed, but for the same reason I’m ‘out’ this could be a good ‘in’ for you. There is 30 percent value in your dollar right now here in Canada !

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    • Jesse JesseAuthor

      We aren’t planning on making this our main source of income, but it would still need to be profitable to make worth doing. You bring up some good points in your comment. Rent, insurance, utilities, etc. all add up so we are being careful about getting in too deep too quickly.

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  94. Dave Wright

    Well thought out and stated. a shop like in the photo has to cost 1200-2000 a month even in Boise. That is before you turn on lights or heat…….the numbers get big real quick. Add taxes, insurance, permits, and you are at 4,000 a month before anyone takes a paycheck. My brothers shop has a overhead of something like 60,000 a month before he opens the doors.

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    • Jesse JesseAuthor

      You’re right Dave. The shop pictured above would run about $700 per month. That may seem like a bargain, but when you add in the utilities and insurance, it starts to not look like such a great deal. So, we are still looking at all our options. I’m guessing your brother runs a full fledge repair shop and that amount includes payroll?

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  95. van

    Ok guys hold on to your hats
    Pick a couple of sights to find cars
    If money allows gullwing motors, anybody that hasn’t checked it out should do so, the prices aren’t as good as it used to be but the selection is omg
    Pick a budget and let the discussion begin.
    Or Desert Classics
    I’m sure others have ideas for a good sight
    Preferably not ebay
    Craigslist would be ok.

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    • Dave Wright

      Well…….you made your first mistake. Those are all retail sites. Go to Lein sales, estate sales, copart………those are the kind of places are where Gullwing and others like them buy. Craigslist can be good to……but if you are a resaler….it is pretty tough to make money buying from other resalers.

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  96. van

    I know you’re right but finding cars we can wade in on is the problem
    Unless everyone hear is going to submit a car for consideration
    Copart is a good source
    Not lots of older cars
    Check out mercedes-benz SL 2003-6
    Jag xk8 2003-6.
    And the escalade got the ls3 and six speed auto before the corvette, great for the drive train.

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      Dealing with non vintage might be a more stable and lucrative venture but it might not fuel the passion for the hobby.

      That is for the individual to decide. And in fact might be a good way to be in the business without your hobby suffering.

      Myself, I’d need to be passionate about what I’m dealing with just to stay informed and interested.

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  97. DrGonzo

    Thumbs up.

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    I use the rule of three. Drivetrain, body, interior. Only buy if two out of the three do not need to be fixed.
    That leaves a lot of leeway but it keeps costs down and is a rule to buy profitable cars.

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  99. van

    What would Lee Pue due
    Jay leno
    Or the guy that needs to feed a family
    Don’t suppose you can explore all

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  100. Danger Dan

    I got deals for you. hit me jess.

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  101. van

    Copart has a couple of interesting cars
    One tomorrow one Friday one next week

    1967 land Rover neat
    1974 lotus. Ugly
    1938 cadillac. Cool red, but burned
    I said no muscle cars so I can’t say 1971 trans am

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  102. van

    Could you put the active exhaust from a zo6 on a 38 caddy

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  103. van

    Oops lotus is to high
    How about 1984 Alpha GTV6

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  104. BigBarko

    Wheeler Dealers flips cars correctly. Finding hidden gems and putting them back on the road without all the customizing (ok they did customize the Gremlin but minus this one). Gas Monkey flips & customizes, some good some bad but they all are being sold to a customer who most likely has already ordered it before the show is filmed. They are horrible flippers when they buy collectible models of cars and then chop them up into decent customs (the mopar with the hellcat swap).

    To me the only bad flippers, the flippers that should be damned into eternal car hell, are the flippers that do it wrong and do everyone a dis-service. I have bought old Caddies that had been in the hands of these bad flippers. Front quarters rusted? Slap 4 inches of bondo and mold it to look like a fender, paint over with $499 paint special. Holes in the floor pans? Cut up a stop sign and lay extra carpet over it.

    If you guys do it right, find cars that have been off the road for 20 years, get them back on the road running and driving AND do it correctly then you are doing the collector car hobby a good deed.

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  105. Neil

    It appears most of the Barn Finds on your website are for sale but your listings are added so quickly that a car someone likes is pushed to page three by the next day. This is great for browsing cars but terrible if a person wants to buy something. My suggestion to you is to add an “I want it” or “Buy It Now” button you control from your website, which means you do a little followup with the owner and charge the owner a 1% commission fee; if the vehicle sells through your website referral.

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    • Jesse JesseAuthor

      That’s a great idea Neil, but can you explain the concept more? I’m not sure if owners would be willing to pay a percentage if they have the car listed else where. Please elaborate.

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  106. Neil

    Two ways you can charge fees and not get your hands dirty or set up a repair shop: Add a “Buy it Now” page and “Barn Find” auction page to your website. Both ways put money in your pocket but requires you to do the leg work to “certify” the vehicle seller and Buyer. My suggestions are to limit the number of vehicles you want to sell and a 1-2 week sales cycle.

    Two examples of on-line sales companies: eBay and Bring a Trailer. The third is my suggestion for your website:

    1) eBay charge a fee of $60. for a car sold for under $2,000 (3%) up to $125 for a car sold for over $2,000 (6%+). They let PayPal be the collection agency so they never touch the buyers cash…

    2) Bring a Trailer has a vetted system where they arrange an auction of a dozen cars listed for one week and charge the owner of the vehicle a set fee. This would work IF you have a similar traffic flow to your website as BAT and YOU act as the middleman. From the looks of their auctions, most cars appear in street worthy condition and they are making a good living. Buyers must use a credit card system to participate.. Here is their “How it Works” page.

    3) Your Website:
    Modify your website to have three pages.
    Page 1 is the “Buy it Now” page with Certified “Diamonds in the Rough” Barn Finds and limit the page to 20 cars and last for 1-2 weeks; unless sold locally by the seller. Option to this is adding new cars when one sells but never exceeding 20 listings. Do not list the sellers address or contact info but tell the readers the area the car is located, its appraised value in its current state and stress to your readers the listing won’t appear any where else on your website if it doesn’t sell.

    Page 2 is the “Barn Find auction” page. The first thing you need to confirm is the number of bidders your website could generate each week. From the looks of your listings, finding Barn vehicles doesn’t appear to be a problem. You should approach all Barn Find Craigslist vehicles and pitch them with a legitimate customer vetting system but avoid eBay, or BAT, listed vehicles; unless they didn’t sell.
    Side note: eBay barn finds can still appear on your non-auction page as well as vehicle you don’t believe have an auction price.

    Page 3 contains the non-BIN or auction cars for the casual readers not wanting to buy a car.

    Good luck….Neil

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    • Dave

      Neil’s ideas are good ones.

      As a noobie to this site, I was struck with how similar it was to BAT in the “good old days”. It is fun to dream and scheme about the projects to be. BAT has gone way upmarket and I’m sure that is good for their bottom line but it has taken most of the fun out of the site for me. There are only so many over priced mid-80s Porsche 911s that can hold my attention (although I love mid-80s Porsche 911s). The BAT auction system seems to work for them and I’m certain there is a market to be exploited for cars that are more project oriented.

      I wouldn’t ignore the power of Youtube as a way to promote your finds… especially if you are doing work on them.

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  107. Neil

    Have you ever contacted any of the cars you have previously listed in the last 6 months? I’m curious how many are still looking for a Buyer. Could be another source of vehicles desparate for a new home.

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  108. jeff6599

    Come on! What one person, let alone two or more, would work for $700/month?
    Let’s get real here. You are just in the start up mode. you can do x number of units a year without a dealer license. Having a dealer license gets you into used car auctions and keeps you from having to pay a sales tax on what you buy. Buy the car, hold it and do the value added items then sell it. It you buy from a private party, have the seller sign the title and thats all. don’t let them date it nor put a selling price on it. When you sell it, fill in those spaces with the now correct data. Admittedly, it is a slippery way to do it, but without a dealer license it is the only way; unless you WANT to put the title in your name and pay a sales tax to the state. If you do, then you can even drive it after licensing and insuring it. But all that wastes money. Buy it, hold it, sell it with an ‘open’ title. Cheapest way.

    If you choose to get a dealer license, it will cast you about $150 annually for the license and dealer plates. You will be required to get a fleet type of liability insurance policy, $1500 or so per year, and as a dealer license holder you will be required to put up a bond of $10,000 or more which will cost about $150/year through your insurance agent. Then you are free of all of the above paragraph.

    Now you are able to buy a car, park it at home and sell it. But wait; if you hold a dealer license, you must have a business location per the state. The location must be approved by the zoning administrator or local police chief to assure it is in an allowed location and meets the state’s requirements for a dealer (150 sq. ft. office, dedicated telephone, toilet, regular office hours). This may be why you don’t want a dealer license for as long as you can get away without one.

    The state’s idea is to protect the consumer thru traceability of the car and the dealer!

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  109. Neil

    The easiest way to make money through your website would be setting up a virtual used car showroom in a Buy-it-Now auction. In effect, no overhead for manpower, shop or vehicle inventory. Since you have featured hundreds of vehicles this past year, I would suggest you contact as many of these vehicle owners and offer to list any unsold vehicle for a “fee” IF there is a sale made via the Barn Find website.

    This approach is straightforward and your out of pocket expenses are the time and effort to call, text, email and list a car.

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  110. johnforsman

    Having a business, what drove me mad was in my last two locations was that I had to expand the bathroom door width (to handicap) to upgrade electricity. Then in my second location, add a ramp and modify the bathroom so I could add larger windows. The two handicap bathrooms were never used by anyone in a wheel chair in 12 years. Cost, $18,000. Be careful about being a business, unexpected expenses can be expensive.

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  111. David Ledlin

    It is a slippery slope and one that can ruin your unbiased integrity on Barn Finds. Stick with a few or more exclusive listings. BAT has morphed this way into a site that needs to drop “Trailer” off their name and change to “Bait and FISH”. The listing of my Abarth last summer on BAT was a total rout. The first thing after submitting my proposed listing was to ask to lower my reserve to far below the open market value. The info on the car was rewritten by one of their staff that had no clue what an Abarth was and referred to Wikipedia and the BS found there. The BAT “self appointed Gurus” commenters only input was an attempt to devalue the car and towards the end of the auction, some were the “low ball” bidders. BAT contacted me near the end and asked if would drop the reserve so the car would sell. No thanks.
    Sold it two weeks later to a follower of the auction at a fair price for both of us.
    I could say more but that’s for a later BAT rant.

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      Couldn’t agree more. The site has devolved despite their incredible monetizing, and as a long time contributor I can’t help but feel dirty. They spent years being the good ol’ car guys, and now use the masses as a source of income. Well played on their part, and congrats are in order, but somehow it sits uneasily.

      Regardless their business is based on the loafer shod crowd. The audience here is distinctly different. Though I hesitate to admit it, while I might rather share a beer with the folks here, I’d probably rather sell cars to the BAT crowd…

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      • Jesse JesseAuthor

        I’m not sure if I should flattered or offended by that last remark Bobsmyuncle.

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      • Bobsmyuncle

        LOL sorry Jesse, thats just a tongue-in-cheek based on every car soliciting “way too expensive” comments.

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  112. BMW/Tundra guy

    I don’t have the time to read all the input/responses but I will offer my 1/2¢ worth. Everyone has their own idea as to what a “Flipper” is. Mine is that they are the consummate “Bad Apples ” that you have in almost every line of business’. I don’t envision you guys having the total lack of morals and humanity to treat others like that!!
    Go for it!! Maybe let the BF community have first dibs if one has expressed an interest? If there are multiple BF’ers with interest, open up your own little auction on the car?
    Just some thoughts. I pray that you guys do well in this endeavor and it turns out to be be more “Fun” than “Work”!

    Like 0

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