Collector duo creates Airbnb for classic rides
It’s happened to all of us. Maybe it was at a car show or while walking somewhere on a beautiful day.
An exotic or classic car catches your eye. Suddenly, you imagine yourself behind the wheel, reveling in the moment. Then, reality intrudes. You have kids, a mortgage, credit card debt and college bills. You have too many responsibilities and not enough dough.
Dream over, right? Not so fast.
Welcome to the age of the sharing economy, a time when Airbnb, Uber and other sites allow owners to rent out their possessions. One such site, Boatbound, let owners rent out their private boats when not in use.
Peter Zawadzki, a car collector from Cape Cod, was one of them.
“Every time I got the boat back, it was cleaner, it had more gas, and I got to know a lot of my renters really well,” he said. “They kept on coming back, renting. So I thought, ‘Well, I can rent out my boat. I’ve rented out my house. Why can’t I rent these cars that are sitting in my garage?’ ”
Zawadzki contacted friend and fellow collector Michael Sakkas, and they created an Airbnb for collector cars called Classics&Exotics (www.classicsandexotics.com). The site went live in April after a period of testing.
“Peter and I are both collector car owners, and what’s funny is that we know Airbnb; we’ve used it. We love it,” said Sakkas. “And while you can rent your daily driver on a couple sites, you can’t do anything with classic or exotic cars. So we’re concentrating on that market.”
So, forget about Corollas and Accords. In the Detroit area, a 1982 Ferrari 308GTSI can be yours for $449 per day. A 1996 Acura NSX rents for $500 a day. A 2012 Ford Mustang GT convertible is a more affordable $225.
Much like selling a car online, collectors list a car on the site with a description, photos and a daily rental rate. They can rent the car to another driver or opt for a non-driving rental for special occasions, such as a wedding. Owners also specify a mileage limit, as well as how far the car will be transported for drop-off.
Of course, not just anyone can rent a vehicle. Renters must submit a photo of themselves, a photo of their driver’s license and additional information. Renters must be at least 30, and the site runs criminal history and driving record checks. If all’s clear, the site takes credit card information and takes a deposit in addition to the daily rental fees. Once the car owner approves a rental, Classic&Exotics takes a 35 percent commission on the fee.
“We only make money when the vehicle is rented out,” Zawadzki said.
On the big day, the renter logs into his account on the site and completes the checkout process.
“You actually are mandated to take at least five photos of the car; you have the option to take as many as you like. They’re saved on our back end, in case there is any damage. There are electronic signatures by both parties. Fuel, all of that is documented, and then you’re off.”
And if something happens?
“We do full replacement cost on agreed-upon value,” said Sakkas. The company looks at the photos and descriptions as well as the Hagerty Price Guide. “Once we agree to a value, we’re locked in if the car’s a total loss.”
This gives owners control over the entire process; the website insures and facilitates it, including free roadside support by Hagerty. For many owners, even those who only occasionally rent their cars out, it makes sense.
“We had a guy in Michigan who was renting out his Viper for weddings. He was just driving up to wedding venues that he knew were busy in the summertime and honking his horn and saying, ‘Hey, you guys want to take photos with my car?’ And he would charge them $50 and a plate to their dinner. So I said, ‘How does this work with insurance?’ And he said, ‘Well, no one’s really doing it.’ And I said, ‘Well what if the bride burns her leg on that side pipe?’ And he goes, ‘Well, I never really thought about that.’ I said, ‘Are you going to chase the bride down on her wedding day to get reimbursed for your damage? And his face turned white. He never conceptualized the idea that anything could ever happen. He immediately went home and listed his car on our site.”
For owners, the rentals can help offset the expenses of a collection. For renters, it’s a chance to live the dream without the expense.