Don Buchholtz & Laura Beechwood,
There's a community of folks who love these cars. They're beautiful, they smell of old leather, they sound like no car you've heard in 30 years -- they're just plain fun!
Classic Cars and Byways, based in Newton, MA, started in 2008. Like all successful entrepreneurial efforts, our company is driven by passion. In our case, passion for the beauty of classic sports cars and for the chance to have our customers experience the same fun we've had with unique and stylish cars on the back roads of New England.
We began planning Classic Cars and Byways in 2007.
I knew about companies that offered exotics - Ferraris, Lamborghinis and the like - but nowhere did it seem possible to drive one of the beautiful sports cars from the 50s and 60s without buying and maintaining one yourself. It looked like there was an opportunity to fill a niche and feed my passion at the same time.
The company we've launched is built on the advice and wisdom of scores of businessmen and women - and "car guys" - who have been incredibly generous with their expertise.
- First, my wife Laura, who's run a manufacturing business for 25 years, both guides the business side and brings the feminine perspective to all our decisions. After all, I learned, 70 percent of customers for sports car rentals are women - often purchasing the rental for a special birthday, anniversary, or just for the sheer fun of it.
- Marty Kress, an advisor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), (www.score.org), was tough and encouraging. When I was afraid others I talked to would steal my idea, Marty's wisdom came through - "No one else can take your dream," he advised.
- Tony Merrygold and his wife Elaine have been running The Open Road, near Stratford-upon-Avon (www.theopenroad.co.uk) for over 15 years. In January, I took the course Tony now offers about starting a sports car hire business, and learned more in two days than possible in two years of trial and error.
While there are fewer than a dozen classic sports car rentals companies in the US, there are over 65 in the UK! If you're traveling to England (or elsewhere around the world) and want a unique driving experience, check out Tony's new worldwide directory, www.classiccarhireworld.co.uk.
- Tony encouraged me to connect with two "locals" - Rob Martin at Litchfield Classic Car Rentals (www.litchfieldclassiccarrental.com) in Connecticut, and John Pollack, who's been running Sports Car Rentals (www.sportscarrentals.com) in Charlottesville, VA since 1995. Both have offered invaluable advice, and, from John, a beautiful ride down the Skyline Drive in a wonderful red TriumphTR3.
- The Boston area is rich in guys with decades of experience buying, selling, racing, touring, fixing, and polishing classic sports cars. Among those who advised and encouraged me are: Andrew Davenport at Classic Motorsports (www.classicmotorsports.us), Sam Smith at Brit Bits (www.britbits.com), Stuart Carpenter at Copley Motorcars (www.copleymotorcars.com), and Paul Robataille at Paul's Foreign Auto in Needham, MA.
- Finally, there are two key guys who keep the cars on the road and looking great: Maurizio Cerasoli, a mechanical genius and Porsche racer at Vara's Garage in Needham and Jim Miga, top-notch detailer at The Garage Valet. Thanks guys!
Regrettably, after operating a self-drive business model for four years we found the cost of insurance to be prohibitive. We now offer our Speedster for photo shoots -- commerical, weddings, or any other occasion when a classic beauty will make all the difference.