With a simple turn of the key, it springs into life. Creating a guttural sound that seems to emanate from the toes, vibrate through your core, and tickle the primal nodes of the brain. This is a rumbling engine that not only speaks of the car, but it also speaks of an era. A time when big, heavy cars ruled the road. It was 1968 when this Ford Galaxie convertible came off the assembly line with untarnished vibrant red paint. Today the car shows some of its years on the road, but it has a classic beauty. It welcomes passengers to a spacious, leather-clad, back seat. The driver views the road over a sea of the red hood.
In the past, this is a vehicle that only a few die-hard classic car fans would possess. A car that a small number would drive. But that has all changed through a program from the Traverse City-based company Hagerty, called DriveShare. It opens the possibility of renting not only classic cars but even newer collectible cars.
On a chilly fall morning, we traveled with three women from southern California who came to northern Michigan to experience fall colors. And what better way to view the colors than with the top down on this classic car, no matter how chilly the weather.
“Renting one of the DriveShare classic cars feels like stepping into a time machine, a candy apple red time machine that is,” said Amanda Ostrove who took advantage of the classic fall color tour. “There was something about the nostalgic feeling it evoked while we drove through the gorgeous fall colors and bay views of Traverse City's Old Mission Peninsula that made the ride extra special."
The Hagerty DriveShare program operates not just in Traverse City, but around the entire country. Available cars can change on a regular basis. Locally it includes a 1958 Oldsmobile Super 88, a 1974 Toyota Land Cruiser, and a 1999 Porsche Boxster. They are rented by the owners for a variety of occasions, business meetings, weddings, family outings, or just for fun.
*Photos courtesy of Hagerty.
The car owners can make a little money on the rentals, but for many, it’s more an opportunity to share their passion for restoring classic cars. “We bought the car with the intent to share it with the public,” said Dan Bradfield, the owner of the Ford Galaxie. “If it doesn’t bring you joy, you shouldn’t have it in your life.” Bradfield is generous to share his passion whenever he can. He’s taken it to nursing homes and found ways to connect with residents who had happy memories around the car or vehicles like his. “There is always someone with a childhood connection to the car. Someone who has a happy memory attached to it.”
You might think Bradfield is on pins and needles when he rents out his car, but he’s not. “Oddly enough I don’t get nervous,” Bradfield said. “It’s special to us, but a car is nothing without the experience behind the wheel. We’d rather have it out making memories than sitting in a garage.”
Bradfield is a car guy. He can tell you that the guttural sound of the car comes from a big block, 390 engine with dual exhaust. For the three California passengers who took in the fall northern Michigan colors and braved the chilly temperature, it was more than the engine that made this ride special. It may have been the nostalgia, the top-down freedom of the drive, or just the smiles on the faces of those who stared at them as they drove down the road. For whatever reason, the Hagerty DriveShare experience was unique.
To get more information on the collectible car-sharing program explore http://www.driveshare.com/.