So you’re going to be sightseeing in the nation’s capital and you want to be seen as well as see the sights. As of this month, you can rent a 1973 Steyre Puch Pinzgauer 712M to carry you and as many as 13 friends and relatives on your tour.
Don’t need a retired Swiss military troop transport? Well, there are 100 other collector vehicles — and the list is growing weekly — available across the country from Classics&Exotics, a sort of Airbnb created to help classic car owners benefit by renting out their vehicles while also getting potential newcomers to the hobby behind the wheel.
The company’s first rental took place earlier this month. A woman wanted to surprise her husband on his birthday, so she made arrangements to do a one-day rental of a 1984 Ferrari 308.
“We’re starting to get bombarded by brides looking for classic or unique vehicles for their weddings,” said Peter Zawadzki, chief executive and co-founder of Classics&Exotics, which is based at Cape Cod, Massachusetts,
“My goal was to get more people behind the wheel (of classic cars),” Zawadzki told Classic Car News, “people in my age demographic, mid-30s, and then to get them eventually to want to be owners.”
Zawadzki first tapped into the new and so-called sharing economy by using Airbnb when he traveled. He then discovered a website that arranges boat rentals.
“I have a pontoon boat,” he said. “In the first summer, I made a couple thousand dollars and covered all my payments, and when I got my boat back it was always clean and I had a great experience with everyone who’d rented it.
“I can do this with my house. I can do this with my boat. Why can’t I do this with my exotic car?” he wondered.
Zawadzki’s first car was a 1970 Pontiac GTO. “I was the only kid in college with a daily driver and a collector car, a 1979 MGB,” he said of a later acquisition.
Zawadzki had plenty of start-up experience; he’d been involved in helping to launch a series of non-profits. So he and Michael Sakkas, another car guy and also a resident of Sandwich, Massachusetts, decided to start the new business.
“Do we expect every classic owner to list their vehicles? No,” Zawadzki said.
“But what’s unique about us is that we allow the (car) owner to control everything. We allow them to set their own prices, and we insure the entire transaction.”
Owners can even opt to rent out rides rather than letting someone else drive, or can rent their cars out for static events, such as photo shoots.
“We do a full background check (on people renting the cars), criminal, driving records, that they haven’t had a DUI or excessive speeding tickets,” Zawadzki said. “We handle the roadside service and support.”
A quick check of the Classics&Exotics website shows that in the Los Angeles area, you can rent a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 for $800 a day or a 1979 Triumph Spitfire for $350; a 1972 Ferrari Daytona in Philadelphia for $550; a 1929 Ford Phaeton in Mobile, Alabama, for $200; a 1951 Pontiac Chieftain in Detroit for $500; or that 14-seat Pinzgauer in Washington, D.C., for $349. There is a 10 percent service fee on each rental, plus a refundable security deposit.
“Whether you’re interested in renting a modern-day Rolls-Royce Phantom for your wedding or a 1966 Mustang Convertible for your wedding anniversary, we’ve got our renters covered,” Sakkas, the company’s market development director, said in a news release.