After I’d posted my third interesting Craigslist find of the day (a 1979 4×4 F600 dump truck. Yes.) a Facebook friend of mine asked “Seriously, how much time do you spend on Craigslist?” Well. All of it. But the truth is, Craigslist sucks for finding vintage cars. VintageWheels.com hopes that it’s solved some of the problems that Craigslist, Ebay and many other older car websites have.
The company was founded by Jason Davis. His calling card has been the company Adtuitive, which was acquired by hipster crocheted beer can hat marketplace Etsy in 2009. When the company was acquired, he became Etsy’s Director of Search & Data, mining vast quantities of information about those interested in the wares that Etsy vendors, and utilizing it to overhaul Etsy’s search ranking algorithms.
So how do you move from dreamcatchers and custom etched water bongs to classic cars? Easy. There’s a huge hole in the way classic cars are marketed online, and it directly relates to the way Etsy managed to corral all of its craftspeople. “The vintage car market is highly fragmented,” says Jason from his home in Brooklyn, New York. “Ebay is one of the biggest players but they still only represent about 12 percent of cars for sale on the market today. Vintage cars are awesome, and we built Vintage Wheels to aggregate inventory and make classic car shopping fun.”
One of the maddeningly frustrating things about Ebay is that a simple top-level search for a car often pulls in hundreds of thousands of random parts, mixed in with the car search results, especially on cars that aren’t heavily represented. For example, a top search bar search for a 1969 Chrysler Newport on Ebay results in 24,472 results for things like a 4-oz. can of Rust Prevention Magic or an NOS AC Delco radiator cap, but exactly none of the cars I’m looking for.
A top level search on VintageWheels.com returns five of the exact year, make and model I’m looking for, with none of the other nonsense.
VintageWheels.com aggregates listings from a wide range of sources, including Ebay, but it’s not a place where you can post an ad yourself. “We don’t have plans to list inventory directly,” says Jason, “although there’s definitely been interest from dealers to do so.”
For the classic car shopper, each listing on VintageWheels.com provides some ballpark information about the car in question: Its proximity to you, the original listing source, and a handy resource for determining value, based on other cars of that make and model that VintageWheels has aggregated. That value provides a heat map, too, which shows the locations of where those cars are for sale. That might not seem all that important to begin with, but if all those cars are 2,000 miles away from you, the car that’s $1,000 more and down the street might be a better deal when you start factoring shipping into the transaction price.
If you’re in a browsing mode, more than hunting for a specific car, VintageWheels breaks cars and trucks into a pretty substantial number of subsets on the homepage, making a quick look at all the 1969 to 1991 Chevy Blazers a one-click exercise. “Hipster Classics” is a one-way ticket to all the classic Minis, Vanagons and Volvo 122s you can stand.
Sites like BringATrailer.com do a great job marrying editorial content with aggregated listings, but Jason notes that it’s a different kind of car shopping experience. “BringATrailer is great if you’re looking to buy something that catches your eye, that sort of impulse classic car purchase that you may not have been looking for,” he says. VintageWheels is about something different. “Our sweet spot is in the hunt.”
With over 100,000 classic cars in its search results, VintageWheels is starting to make a name for itself for classic car buyers.