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Buying or Selling a Vehicle: What is it Worth?

"What is my vehicle worth?" We get this question all the time. Here is how we can help:

First, it's important to visit our "Satisfied Customers" database. The database lists every vehicle GoWesty has ever sold, sorted by the date we sold it. Each column has an active header, meaning you can re-sort the data simply by clicking the header.

If you click on the "Model" header, the list will re-sort according to model type. You will find that all of the vehicles we sell are categorized as one of nine possible model types:

1. Bus Full Camper
2. Eurovan Full Camper
3. Eurovan Weekender
4. Vanagon Full Camper
5. Vanagon Full Camper Syncro
6. Vanagon Hard Top
7. Vanagon Hard Top Syncro
8. Vanagon Weekender
9. Vanagon Weekender Syncro

Once you click on the "Model" header, the list re-sorts in the order shown above. Every VW Bus Full Camper we have ever sold appears grouped together, followed by every Eurovan Full Camper, and so on. You can then scroll down the list and look at the vehicle sales that are pertinent to your own vehicle. Just click the page numbers to get to your specific vehicle "group."

Take some time to look at that list. You will see details of every sale. Included in the information is 1) what we paid for the vehicle, 2) what work we did to it in order to get it up to GoWesty standards and/or meet the specific requests of our customers, and 3) what it sold for, which is the sum of the first two items, plus tax, license, smog test and certificate, and shipping to the customer (if applicable).

Now, we've found that most people don't take the time to do their homework. They simply scroll down the listings and get mesmerized by the high out-the-door price a GoWesty vehicle commands (i.e., what it sold for). Most people stop there and assume that this number has something to do with what their vehicle is worth. In fact, that is only one very small part of the bigger picture.

If you take the time to read the details of each sale, you will learn what we paid for the vehicle to begin with. The difference between what we paid and what it sold for is, logically, the measure of the work we did to it.

The consequence of GoWesty's transparency—which includes posting the total out-the-door price of every vehicle we restore and sell—is that the price of the average, un-restored VW van has been driven up to a ridiculous level. In fact, GoWesty has been widely criticized in various web forums and at some enthusiast events for this very issue. The sad truth is that this was an unintended consequence, and a very unfortunate one at that. Oftentimes, we find ourselves in the same boat: having to pay too much for un-restored vehicles in order to restore and resell them. 

The larger tragedy is not what GoWesty has to pay for restorable vehicles. We know what we're doing, and we only buy the very best vehicles available for a fair price—and because GoWesty always discloses what we paid for a vehicle and what we are marking it up (which is never more than 20%), a GoWesty restored vehicle is always a good value. No, the larger tragedy is that some vehicles out there on the open market are selling for way more than they are actually worth. The uneducated customer is often paying way too much and, essentially, getting ripped off (we suggest reading the following article for more information, "Cheap Vanagons Are the Most Expensive").

So, what is your vehicle worth? Well, the short answer is, "Probably close to the 'What We Paid for It' figure that appears in each of our sales." Of course, if your vehicle has had improvements and modifications similar to the list of "What Work We Did to It," it may be worth more than the "What We Paid for It" figure. However, this is not always the case.

For example, most "rebuilt engines" installed in the average Vanagon are a far, far cry from a GoWesty high-output rebuilt engine. In many cases, those other rebuilds are less desirable than a good, used original engine that hasn't been hacked up by a less-than-quality rebuild attempt. Heck, a large portion of the engines GoWesty sells for Vanagons end up going into vehicles that have perfectly good, running, original engines—in these cases, it is the added performance and efficiency that people desire. So, a "rebuilt engine"—which many advertisements tout as something that adds significant value to the vehicle—may, in fact, add little or no value to an otherwise non-restored, used vehicle. 

Another "increased value" item commonly used in classified ads is the claim of "new paint." You've probably seen that a thousand times, right? To us, this is a huge red flag. Most "new paint" jobs on vehicles for sale are done as quickly and as cheaply as possible. I mean, think about it. If you were getting ready to sell a vehicle, would it make sense to spend a ton of money to get a perfect paint job? Of course not. That would just eat into whatever money you were hoping to net from the sale. We avoid re-painted vehicles because the "new" paint is typically not applied correctly and just ends up adding extra work for us: we have to strip it all down and do it right. Worse yet, oftentimes that "new paint" is simply hiding a ton of horrible rust or body work.

So, what is your vehicle worth? Do yourself—and the person to whom you are selling the vehicle—a favor: Do your homework. And, as the old saying goes, "Buyer beware." Don't let someone sell you a sub-par vehicle at an overly inflated price. We base all of our sales on the idea of transparency... we strongly suggest that you do the same. Karma, folks.

"Will GoWesty sell my vehicle on consignment?" This is another good question.

Yes, we do consignment sales from time to time; however, we only sell a vehicle on consignment if it is a previously-restored GoWesty vehicle that has, for some reason, come back around to us. We feel comfortable doing this because we are already very familiar with the vehicle in question, and we can guarantee the work that we've already done—in other words, we can "support" the vehicle long-term. 

In most cases, it makes more sense to sell your vehicle on the open market, and advertise it honestly. In our experience, if you are planning to sell your vehicle, it just doesn't make a lot of sense to spend more money on it prior to the sale. For every dollar you spend, you will likely get back less than $.50 on your investment. 



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