One of the more interesting developments in the classic car hobby, over the past few years, has been the broader expansion of classic car rentals. Early on, there were a handful of companies that popped up in major markets that would offer to rent you a classic car, in the same way that you would go to Hertz and rent an ordinary car. Only rather than renting a mid-sized, generic, slush-bucket you might climb behind the wheel of a convertible Mustang or even a Ferrari 308 GTB. It was an interesting concept, but not particularly practical, unless you lived or travelled in one of the few areas that had one of these stand-alone services. Then recently, Hagerty introduced something called DriveShare and now the entire game appears to have changed.
With DriveShare, classic car owners can register their cars with this online service to be rented out, whenever they like. A prospective renter goes on the site and either enters in a specific type of car they are looking for (1958 DKW 3=6 Sonderklasse? Yep, there was one for rent within 25 miles of my house!) or a geographic location, the site then brings back a listing of all the classics available that fulfill these and/or other criteria (price range, manual/automatic, etc). I have to admit it’s a pretty slick system and a great idea. Where was this when I was exercising any number of automotive demons over the years?! If this had existed 20 years ago, who knows how much time and money I could have saved by quickly working through my brief, but expensive Porsche 356 phase. Had I been able to just drive one for a weekend, I might have gotten it out of my system and not been saddled with a lot of expensive books chronicling the appropriate serial numbers on Pre-A intake manifold bolts (that is a real thing by the way).
And as an owner of a classic today, how great would it be to take that rolling money pit and actually put it to work to help earn its keep? With this program you can rent your car out, when you’re not using it, and like Tinder for the classic car crowd, the site connects you with your prospective renter, on your terms, when you want. But unlike Tinder, if the date goes horribly wrong, Hagerty provides $1 million of insurance coverage as part of the transaction (of which, of course, they get a percentage).
I have to admit, the idea of occasionally renting out my Alfa is tempting, but as I imagine how the hand-off would go, I wonder if this is really a viable option for me.
“Hi, Mr. & Mrs. Bramble, nice to meet you. Let’s just go over a few things to familiarize yourselves with my Alfa and you’ll be on your way. OK, first off, you’ll need to keep the car covered at all times…no exceptions. If it’s in the sun too long, I’m afraid this older black paint job will get too hot and start to craze. Removing and installing the cover is really easy, just remember that one of you needs to hold this edge here, while the other person goes to the opposite corner and, holding this section with the opposite hand like this, gently pulls this section back until you can just see this little piece of chrome start to show…then the other person needs to lift their opposing corner as high as they can, while you pull your corner down and away, thus giving you the clearance to then fold the cover up into an equilateral dihedron…got that?
“Oh, I almost forgot… if, of course, any part of the cover should ever touch the ground, you’ll need to immediately burn the cover and buy a new one…I’ll give you the address of the guy that makes them just in case.
“So, now that the car is uncovered…what’s that Mrs. Bramble? The keys?…hold on there, Mario! This is a 57-year old Alfa Romeo…. Do you think you can just jump in, fire it up and race away?”
“I should think not…I need to walk you through the proper starting procedure. OK, Mr. Bramble climb behind the wheel…
“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! As you squeeze the button, you need to lift the door, as you pull it, those are 55-year old door hinges made out of Italian pot metal, you can’t just fling those things open like the doors on your Kia Sorento you know.
“Now then, starting it from cold is pretty straightforward, turn the key until you hear the fuel pump come on, then hum the first stanza of Pagliacci until you get to the sotto voce alto part, then depress the accelerator 7/8thof its travel for 2 pumps, followed by one pump at ½ depth and then hold it steady at 3/5ths depth and engage the starter for no more than 10 revolutions. Then, turn the key completely off, wait for 90 seconds, then repeat the process, only now adding ¾-inch more accelerator travel at each pump…easy, right?”
As I imagine Mr. & Mrs. Bramble driving away—angry and in the same car they arrived in—I come to the realization that it might not be so easy to just casually hand over my pride and joy to anyone with a couple hundred bucks in their pockets.
After all, the one thing about rental cars is…we all know how people treat rental cars! I wonder if there is a surcharge for anal-retentive owners?