A recent Drivin’ News story, “When the collection outlives the collector,” resonated with a broad spectrum of readers. Its theme focused on the challenges facing adult sisters charged with disposing of their recently deceased father’s collection of distressed classic Cadillac cars and piles of associated parts.

Much of the feedback focused on the need for a collector to organize and preferably simplify the contents of a collection in advance of the time when it gets passed on.

Inspired by the research of Drivin’ News friend and “avid car guy,” Rocco Scotellaro, Drivin’ News will explore channels available for collectors to dispose of their collection’s contents. The word “dispose” may seem a rude assessment in contrast to the more positive “sell.” Unfortunately, while most classic car pieces and parts have a value, the market for some items associated with classic cars especially pre-war cars may be melting out of the population. For the sake of one’s progeny, information about purpose and worth can be invaluable.

With that said, Drivin’ News explores managing down a collection.

How to manage down a classic car collection.

Mr. Doan and his collection being auctioned by VanDerBrink Auctions

Disposal of classic car parts, pieces and print materials presents a daunting task even for the collector who knows what his collection contains. Thus, avenues for clearing out parts and pieces will be the focus of this article. For a discussion of the sales channels for complete and running vehicles, readers can refer to the October 14, 2021 Drivin’ News story, Comparing classic car sales platforms.”

The plight of the four LaFronz sisters featured in the Cadillac story hit home for both the younger readers who might be on the receiving end of a collection and the not so young audience members (You are not going to catch me calling my friends old) who find themselves staring at piles of vintage car parts accrued, often times, over decades. In hearing the sisters’ story, younger potential collection recipients can envision the painful loss of a parent complicated by the daunting task of disposing of items for which they have neither an interest in keeping nor a knowledge of their value. For older collectors, with most residing in an age bracket frequented by grandparents, the task of planning for the disposal of their collection presents the potential for an equally unpleasant experience. Issues relating to one’s mortality offer little in the way of pleasant reflection.

LaFronz sisters’ Cadillac collection chaos

Today, many longtime collectors with a clear eye on reality, some grudgingly and others with a quiet nod to inevitability, find themselves coming around to facing the responsibility that rests alone on their shoulders to do right by their collection and those who will assume the responsibility for it. Whether being kept in the family or organized for liquidation, they know they need to prepare their collection for the transition.

Rocco Scotellaro has been a life-long car enthusiast and collector. A professional engineer, Rocco had been my student during my brief stint as a middle school science teacher in the time of the first Nixon administration. We reconnected 50 years later when he registered for an adult school class I presently teach on collectible automobiles. With a special place in his heart for classic Pontiacs and C2 Corvettes, Rocco has accrued a mountain of parts during his decades of restoration activities. In a concerted effort to keep his inventory under control and promote marital harmony, he has developed significant expertise in the avenues for turning excess inventory into cash while reducing that mountain to a mole hill.

To equip collectors with effective tools for disposing of parts and pieces no longer needed, Drivin’ News has combined the work of Rocco and the widely respected Drivin’ News research department to offer an overview of proven avenues to reduce the clutter and make a few bucks.

Seek help!

SPECIAL NOTE: If you have a space filled with an eclectic jumble of random car parts that you passionately defend against any suggestion to reduce the chaos, you have crossed the line and are, indeed, a hoarder. Seek help.

Before charting a path for the sale of items in a collection, it is paramount to be clear on the scope of what is being sold. A manifest difference exists between clearing out some NOS and used parts for which you no longer have a need versus a one-time disposal of a barn chock-a-block with bodies, chassis and shelves of associated parts. Answers to the “How to” question can range from creating a small side business that serves as a pleasant distraction and makes a few bucks all the way up to contracting a professional auction house with the market savvy and resources to move everything at one time. The spectrum of solutions existing between those poles demands an honest assessment of your knowledge, your time and your objectives.

As an example, the adult sisters in the distressed Cadillacs story face real choices. At a disadvantage with their lack of knowledge as to the value of the collection, they could contract with a respected auction house that deals with the disposition of such lots. The benefit would be that the responsibility for resolution of the matter would no longer be the sisters’ day to day concern. However, the cost for this convenience could be a significant percentage of the money raised at auction. This also assumes that a reputable auction house would take on the task, meaning it has assessed that money could be made. For those predisposed to such an arrangement the frightening possibility exists that a reputable auction house would determine that auctioning the lot was not worth the effort.

A second alternative exists where the sisters seek venues where they can advertise the total collection at a set price or ”Best Offer.”

Lastly for consideration here calls for the sisters to assume the responsibility of parting out the collection through venues where individual parts or batches of parts can be offered for sale. The phrase “daunting challenge” was specifically created to be applied in situations like this.

As we review different avenues for the disposition of parts we will return, from time to time, to assess its applicability in the case of the sisters’ inherited distressed Cadillac collection.

All avenues for parts sales have a few basics in common. Every one involves displaying the item, agreement on a deal, payment for the purchase and transfer from seller to buyer.

Rocco Scotellaro doing business even in the time of Covid

Display – Description of an item can be in person or through a written ad and/or photography or video.

Confirming a deal can either be in person or through electronic communications.

Payment can be in the form of cash, check, PayPal, or apps such as Venmo or Zelle. As explained in Forbes Advisor, Zelle (rhymes with sell) and Venmo rank as two of the most popular P2P (person-to-person) mobile apps providing digital payment services. Zelle allows you to send and receive money instantly between U.S. bank accounts. It partners with over 10,000 financial institutions with over 1.8 billion made between its inception in 2017 and 2021. It enables you to send money quickly from your bank account to anybody you pick. In a matter of minutes.

Venmo, unlike Zelle functions as a digital wallet, allowing you to accrue money in your Venmo account to pay for future purchases. Money transferred through Venmo arrives in your account instantly. The recipient can then keep the funds in their Venmo account or transfer the money to a linked bank account. Money is not available instantly unless you pay a fee.

PayPal offers a much more comprehensive menu of services with  users in over 200 countries. Its broad international reach is accompanied by a complex fee structure. Unlike PayPal, Zelle and Venmo only serve users in the U.S.

Transfer either is through an in-person exchange or by shipping. This involves packing and selecting a shipper.

Packing – Rule 1, if you are shipping an item pack it well. The last thing you want is a shipment damaged. Returns and insurance are a real hassle. Double wall boxes are the best. Big stuff can be a challenge. Packaging large body panels and engine blocks are best not attempted by the inexperienced.

Shipping – Size more than weight matters. A large light door panel will cost more to ship than a small heavy engine component. Small items are well served by flat rate boxes available at the post office. UPS and FedEx offer a menu of delivery schedules and prices. If you ship enough you can get a price break. Shipping without a doubt adds a level of complexity avoided with a simple hand-off.

Garage SalesBasically, a garage sale requires writing an ad that can be placed on Craigslist, a local garage sale website or a local newspaper. If your garage sale will be primarily car parts and pieces it is important that you reach out everywhere to alert your intended buyers. A properly placed clear ad promoting “Car Stuff” for sale will draw car guys like flies to, well to whatever flies are drawn to.


  • Easy
  • Free
  • Buyers interact with item before sale
  • All cash transactions
  • Items sold as is,
  • No taxes
  • No shipping


  • Days of preparation to organize, price and label items. Write the ad Make and post signs.
  • Need to sell at lower prices (Be prepared to negotiate because everyone wants a deal)
  • Weather dependent
  • Limited customer base
  • Thieves cruise garage sales to distract the seller and take things. It is best to have a few helping you. Don’t be bullied and be alert to distractions and confusion.

Garage sales are hard work. They can also be fun and profitable. In the following example Rocco describing one of his garage sales the past summer (keep in mind that Rocco is good at this). Rocco says, “I put an ad on Craigslist for “tools” in the automotive section. I had good traffic maybe 50 people over the two days. I had been collecting carpenter planes. I had maybe 15 of them displayed. The first guy there asked how much for all of them. He bought them all. First sale, $350.” In two days I sold two thousand dollars worth of stuff. It is worth the effort.”

This is not to say that this happens every time. Sometimes it can be a dud. That is life. But, most often if you advertise properly, have good stuff and are willing to deal, sales will happen.

Swap Meets/ Car Shows/ Flea Markets

From the local car show to the sprawling acres of Hershey, Carlisle, Charlotte Motor Speedway and the like, the basics of a swap meet remains the same only the size of the event differs.

Hershey Swap meet

Basically a swap meet is like a big flat area filled with a whole bunch of garage sales. That said swap meet participants are certainly a notch above a garage sale in the organization of their operation. Usually for swap meet participants, it is not their first rodeo. That said one can usually expect a large friendly gathering of like minded car enthusiasts having a good time and eager to buy something. Offerings at swap meets extend across the spectrum of car enthusiast needs. Small swap meets have some professional participants mixed in with folks that bring stuff that would be found at a garage or estate sale.


  • A far more targeted audience than a garage sale
  • Buyers interact with item before sale
  • Cash sales
  • Higher prices
  • No shipping
  • Secure environment


  • Must pay for Vendor space
  • Must pack and transport stuff to location
  • Cost of travel/ lodging (if overnight)

Craigslist/ Facebook Market Place

Kind of the wild west of online shopping. Real bargains and real misinformation. Like garage sales everyone has a bargain in mind. That said, I have sold parts and cars on Craigslist. Think of these sites as having both wheat and chaff. It remains up to the buyer to sift through it.

Craigslist also is rife with scam artists. One particular one has a very motivated caller who desperately wants to buy whatever you are selling. Unfortunately, the caller will be out of the country so he will send over a friend with a certified check to pick up the item. A deal sweetener of say $100 or, if it is a large purchase, $500 will be added to compensate you for the inconvenience. If the seller goes along, the item is picked up in exchange for the certified check. Only two weeks or so later does the certified check prove to be worthless. Always be wary with Craigslist.

An increasingly major concern with Craigslist is personal security. As reported by NBC News, a robbery arranged on Craigslist is the perfect crime. Whether the victim is buying or selling an item, he or she arrives at a meeting with either a wad of cash or something valuable.

Such meetings often involve the disclosure of much personal information, including phone numbers and home addresses. A clever robber may even persuade the potential victim  to disclose tidbits like work schedules or number of adults in the household at a given time.  And while most consumers are now appropriately skeptical of e-mail from criminals, many let their guard down when a person-to-person meeting is arranged. One very common example occurred in sleepy suburban Bogota, NJ. There a man selling a MacBook on Craigslist had arrived on a sleepy suburban street to meet a buyer responding to the seller’s Craigslist ad. The buyer approached the seller and started counting out the cash. With his focus on the alleged buyer the seller did not see the man who shoved a shotgun in his face. The men then grabbed the computer and ran off. It is becoming increasingly common. Police call it robbery by appointment.

Be warned. Be careful.

Due to this trend many police departments are setting up an area at the station where such exchanges can be made safely.


  • Free targeted audience
  • Usually a cash sale
  • No shipping unless buyer chooses to (Be careful)


  • Must submit ads with photos
  • Limited/local audience
  • Must field questions
  • Must arrange for pickup and payment
  • Security concerns


Ebay represents the online sales 900-pound gorilla in the room. With a potentially global audience and easy payment options eBay grew into an international phenomenon. Unfortunately accompanying that growth has come a complex and off-putting fee structure.

Rocco has developed some pretty strong feelings about eBay based on his years of experience. He says, “eBay is pretty interesting but it can get very complicated and it is getting more complicated by the day. Their terms and conditions seem to change every quarter. I’m kind of glad that I’m running out of stuff to sell because it’s getting more difficult and less worth the trouble. eBay can easily take 15% of your sale.”


  • Wide targeted audience
  • Available access to meaningful sales data
  • Higher prices as compared to garage sales and Craigslist
  • Can target your market to global or U.S. only


  • Fees
  • Tax liabilities
  • Required record keeping
  • Necessity of shipping
  • Have payment procedures
  • Necessity for ad copy and photography
  • Be prepared to answer questions
  • eBay rules and regulations


Primarily BaT has evolved into the premium on line community for the sales of special interest vehicles. Parts are a very small piece of their offerings being primarily confined to high end components primarily wheels.

 Car Club Forums

Pretty much have the feel of a craigslist targeted to a specific and often knowledgeable audience.


  • Targeted audience
  • Knowledgeable audience


  • Very informal
  • Necessity for shipping
  • Must be comfortable with online discussions


High-end auctions such as Gooding, RM Sotheby’s, Bonham’s and their ilk primarily focus on the disposition of premium special interest cars or collections of special interest vehicles. They will deal with parts if they come with the collection.

However other auctions have made a name by serving the need for disposing of collections not necessarily comprised of pristine classic cars.

One example is VanDerBrink Auctions. Owned and operated by Yvette VanDerBrink, the company focuses its operations in America’s heartland having run sales in 17 states, but it’s hardcore heartland, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Minnesota where the company and founder have made their respective reputations. To see how they operate visit their website www.vanderbrinkauctions.com. Even if they do not operate in your area, it affords a good reference for what to look for if you want to move a mixed car and parts collection at one time. For the “Cadillac sisters” finding a suitable auction house might be the best solution to their disposal challenge.


  • Relieves you of the responsibilities of disposal.
  • One single financial transaction
  • Your sale is advertised to a targeted audience
  • You don’t have to write ads or do photography
  • No security issue
  • You have the best chance to get the best value for the collection


  • The collection needs to be large enough to make it worth while
  • The service comes at a price
  • Demands research to confirm the auction you select meets your standards.
  • You may not get what you want but what the market will pay.

Marque enthusiast club publications

Cadillac enthusiast Magazine

Major marques such as Cadillac (The Self-Starter), BMW (Roundel), Porsche (Panorama) and many more have publications published by enthusiast organizations. These publications have classified sections where cars and parts can be advertised. If you are seeking to dispose of parts for that brand these publications offer a great opportunity to connect with people possessing a passion for what you may be selling. While far more work than an auction, this type of advertising of a single lot for sale could certainly be a consideration for the “Cadillac sisters.”


  • Marque specific
  • Knowledgeable audience
  • Higher prices
  • Less wasted communications


  • Necessity of shipping
  • Have payment procedures
  • Necessity for ad copy and photography
  • Be prepared to answer questions

 In the end choosing a path for disposal of part or all of a collection comes down to issues of time, money and emotions. Do you have the time to personally manage a sale? Do you need to wring out every penny possible from the disposition. Does finding a “good home” matter?

For those considering thinning or disposing of a collection, the avenues for disposition offered here could prevent the bequeathing of a collection in chaos from turning into a gift wrapped in a headache.