One of our assertions here at VINwiki is that the value in a car actually lies far beyond anything that can be easily attached to a VIN number. That is our unique identifier and starting point but the story of car transcends anything that could be pulled from existing institutional databases. While we welcome these contributions as we hope to be a one stop shop for vehicle history, we exist for the fulfilment of a broader scope.
Perhaps no automotive icon tugs at the heartstrings of modern collectors like Steve McQueen. His legendary movies and off screen persona made him the James Bond of people who don’t like to wear suits. His automotive tastes were extensive and exotic. Today, when one comes up for sale at auction, it brings more than 10 times what an identical car would without his ownership history on the resume.
There are countless examples of this through the diversity of car culture. One-off configurations, pre-production concepts, cars featured in film or television, and cars of great achievement.
When we set the NY2LA driving record in 2013, I knew that I had found the first permanent fixture in my car collection. It was a trophy of an achievement 10 years in the making that had come to define a season of my life. It was a 118,000 mile 2004 CL55 that worth about $17k when I left New York and had certainly lost a third of its value by the time we entered California in rock chips, maintenance needs, and general stench.
At 11:46 PM on October 20, 2013 though, the car became something entirely different. It was the fastest car ever to cross the United States. It was a superlative that only 8 cars in history had ever held.
As I said, I did not have any interest in selling the car but the value that the car seemed to hold was around $50,000-75,000. In speaking with former record holders, that was their own perception of theirs at the time.
When we say, “you are your car’s history,” we mean it. The stories go beyond engine size, paint color, and emissions test documentation. Tell us your story through the cars that made it possible. The world wants to hear it and we at VINwiki are here to help.
It seems like every social app sets out to be all things to all people. It just isn’t possible. Not many guys use Pinterest, young kids don’t like Facebook anymore, avid readers seldom fall in love with Instagram, what in the world is Snapchat good for? That being said, beauty in design comes from creating a product that can serve the needs of varied users without tailored modification. That is what I set out to do with VINwiki.
I want this to be a platform that works as a mileage tracker and day to day connection with a car for users looking for that level of engagement. I want it to be fun to keep track of what your favorite cars in the world are up to. I want it to be a way for us to zoom out and see the life of our cars, both before and after we own them, in a way that no one has ever offered. I want the enthusiasts who have a finger on the pulse of car markets and production to have a tool that scales their reach. I want dealers and manufacturers to get a vivid picture of what cars they have sold and where they ended up going. All the while, I want it to be clean, powerful, and easy to use.
It may be lofty and I am sure that we are many iterations from that but I am excited for the ride. You may see us pare down specialized functionality from time to time but if this all goes well, not too long from now we hope to find ourselves more car things for more car people. How hard can it be?
In 2001 when the Ferrari 360 Spider came out, the market premiums were more than $150k over MSRP. It was the first time in years where it made sense to have gray market cars in the US. The values were closer to MSRP in Europe and the federalization fees were only $30-40k. It created a very lucrative business for a few years.
The issue with these cars was that they had no warranties and no history. Carfax, Autocheck, and other databases offered nothing about their existence prior to entering America. The same situation still exists within Europe where different VIN history databases are country specific and a car’s past is generally inaccessible.
VINwiki can change that. We had users from every corner of the globe in the first week after we launched. Cars were coming in from Australia, Asia, Europe, and all over the US. If a car leaves for a vacation or permanently, VINwiki can be there for users to help track it.