Cleaning Out The Glovebox

By on June 1, 2016 in Records

receiptsI hate accounting. The first time I went to my accountant for Supercar Rentals I carried with me a legal box of crumpled receipts from the prior year. It was a Vince Vaughn/Dodgeball “keepers” idea. My car accounting is rarely much better. Selling one of my cars generally involved calling all of the service providers I had used and duplicating the service history.

I needed a solution to my disorganization but I never got sufficiently motivated. Then came the 2015 running of The 2904. It was a budget cross country race where we needed to carefully document each expenditure. What grew out of it was an infinitesimal attention to detail for where every cent was allocated as I stretched the rules as close to the breaking point as possible without going over. I bought a $1500 car and was left with $1,404 dollars for on-budget items.

What followed was 250 photos of build/repair documentation, intricate spreadsheets, and penny pinching beyond anything I had done on cars literally costing more than 100 times as much.

I was proud of the outcome. I was proud of explaining how their exclusions of safety related items such as tires, brakes, fuel suspension, lighting, and electronics (essentially lemons rules) had allowed me to spend over $16,000 on a 12 owner salvage title non-running S55 AMG and win their ~$3k car game. I wanted a way to track my life with each of the 5 cars in my garage right now.

VINwiki could be just that. An easy app interface that invites me to photograph and describe receipts would have saved time and trees as I scrambled to retrace my previous steps. It is a tool that I needed and I hope you find that it comes in handy too.

-ed

Fastest Rental Car Cannonball Record!

By on May 18, 2016 in Records, vinning

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This is the value of VINwiki. We have the opportunity to document anything happening with a car. The above post is of the newest Cannonball Record coming in at 33:58 with a rental car!

It’s going to be great seeing where this car ends up down the road. Maybe it might find a special buyer… or a buyer who has no idea that this rental car did something quite amazing!

fastest-rental-car-cannonball-record-vinwiki-comments

Keep breaking records and documenting amazing things happening to your cars #vinners!

-peter

We don’t know how many we made…

By on May 16, 2016 in Data

There are a lot of fun superlative adjectives that we can assign to cars – fast, beautiful, powerful, luxurious, futuristic, etc. Those are all wonderful accolades to dole out toward the crop of new cars that magazines test each year. Another word we seen thrown around by media and manufacturers is “rare.” What defines rare?

Ferrari made 39 cars that are considered 250 GTOs. McLaren made 64 F1 Road Cars. Lamborghini made 3 Veneno Coupes. Dodge made just 14 Hemi-Cuda Convertibles. These are certainly rare. But when did they become rare? That answer varies greatly. A GTO was an old technology race car in the 80s. It took more than 7 years for McLaren to sell their last new car. Lamborghini decided how many Venenos they would make based on the customers who had volunteered to pay whatever price for whatever car whenever they fancied producing it. Dodge would have been happy to build more but the option pricing steered customers away.

Cars become rare when notice they are rare. But how does that happen?

In the summer of 2003 I was 17 years old. A friend and I drove up to Lamborghini Carolinas because the local Atlanta Lamborghini dealership where I would work 6 years later would not let me test drive the new Murcielago. Our confidence scheme got me behind the wheel of a brand new Rosso Andromeda Murcielago coupe. It was an amazing experience blasting the car around the backroads of Greensboro, NC with a terrified passenger just praying that if I crashed it that I would be able to buy it. It was etched into my brain. There is something about cars that were cool when you were 16-20 that you never grow out of loving.

Back then, all Murcielagos were manual. E-Gear did not emerge as an option until the next model year, 2004. When it came out though, the tides were turning. Ferrari had introduced F1 in 1997 on the 355. It eventually became standard on the F430 in 05. It was an option with over 95% penetration in the 2000s on exotic cars but that number was just thrown around. No one really knew.

My desire to one day own a manual Murci never waned. I tried to buy 4 of them over the years but life circumstances repeatedly kept me from them. In 2014 at Amelia Island, RM sold a manual transmission Ferrari 599 for over $700k. It could be argued that it was the beginning of the end of attainable ownership of post 2000 manual exotics. The auction house reported that it was 1 of 19 manual cars imported into the US. It was a quantity that made the car rare by literally any standard.

I became curious. How many manual LP640s were in the US. I had sold a few and seen several advertised but they were certainly hard to come by. I started compiling a list. I contacted other dealers, I called the owners that I knew had them. I asked the factory.

“We don’t know how many we built, much less how many were brought into the country,” was the answer I received. It was true. They had no idea. No one had asked or, at least, no one they cared to answer. I told them how to check. I said to search their window sticker database for VINs beginning with ZHWBU37M for coupes and ZHWBU47M for roadsters. The answer I got back, very secretly, was 23. I had already found 26.

26 cars! Out of 4099 cars built from 2001-2010 only 26 manual 2007-2009 LP640s (the second generation of the Murcielago) came to the US. I was astonished. My resolve deepend to find one of my own. Fortunately one of the customers I had sold a green 08 coupe to called me up a month or so later and asked if the dealership would buy mine back. I volunteered my services.

The rarity of the car adds to the ownership experience but it was a knowledge that was not convenient to find. I created VINwiki with this amazing team to that your search might be a bit more convenient.

-ed

A Question of Value

By on April 7, 2016 in Data

Past and Future - Two-Way Street Sign

Reliance on purely institutional data invites a variety of negative externalities. The volume of data renders incrementally curation impossible for the data provider is. The compromise of quantity over quality has made the available vehicle history reports rather useless. I liken them to SAT scores. If a graduating high schooler gets a good SAT score it offers little evidence that they will be successful in college. If the SAT score is low, however, it offers a slightly higher confidence that they might perform poorly in college.

If a car shows a history issue, it probably matters. The problem is when you find a lack of information. It means nothing. As the owner of a couple dozen interesting cars in the last decade and having been a professional in both entrepreneurial and dealership sales capacities, I have developed a cursory expectation of history reports as barely even useful in polarity. If an issue presents, it might make the sale of a car difficult but that is usually the extent of frustration. A positive result is the same way. Some prospects will believe it as gospel because it is sold as such.

The reality is that a useful history report cannot be automatically generated. It is as living and organic as the car and as the drivers. We decided to treat the idea differently. We decided to change automotive history.

-ed

Socialization of Data

By on March 20, 2016 in Data

ed-bolian-22-carsIn the past 10 years I have owned 23 cars personally. My net profit in owning them has been approximately $300,000. I loved Pacino’s line in The Recruit where he proudly proclaims to Colin Farrell’s character that he is a “scary judge of talent.” The skillset did not come easy, but I am proud to say that I am a great car buyer. It is not the most useful of skills but has served me well facing a hobby that I truly love.

I get that this is not the universal case. My friends are scared to buy cars. They worry about the inhabitants of the proverbial closet – be it monsters or skeletons. They worry about being taken advantage of. In a world of ever increasing knowledge, is the car buying horizon being clarified or are we just being told that we already know enough?

VINwiki is not a crystal ball and it is not two soup cans tied with a string between former owner and current owner. It is a platform for our user base to use and curate vehicle history as they see fit. It can take many forms and we are excited to see that happen. I will use it in an entirely different way that you may and that is the best part. I hope it can satisfy us both as we use a tool that we built to change the way we look at what lies beyond the bookends.
Enjoy the trip into the unknown where we are all each other’s guides. It should be a very fun ride.

-ed

Changing Automotive History

By on February 4, 2016 in Company

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As a car culture we are becoming brilliant at appreciating our cars in the moment. We have social media, camera phones that take amazing photos, incredible onboard diagnostics, and endless opportunities to use and enjoy such a prized possession. What about looking beyond that? Where did my car come from? What happened after I sold it?

When we broadened the focus of inquiry, the image of our cars gets hazier rather than building in clarity. That is what we endeavored to solve. For most people, a car is the second most expensive purchase of their lives. With the average person buying a new (at least new to them) car every 3.5 years, it certainly qualifies as an item that owners want to understand before hand. They can also appreciate the novelty of knowing what happens down the road.

5 years ago I launched a personal blog site. My person is inextricably linked to cars and driving so most of the material revolved around cars. One of the first posts that I made was a list of “Ed’s Car History.” It was a YEAR/MAKE/MODEL list of each of the cars I had owned over the years that I included the VINs to. I knew that finding out who owned them down the road was a “wish upon a star” idea but I put the VIN numbers out there to be a bi-directional lifeline to anyone who also felt like looking into the history of one of those cars moving forward.

VINwiki 1.0 was formed. I quickly started to hear about what was happening to my cars. I found out that the mods to my Audi S4 had never stopped and that it has become a track monster. I found out that my first exotic car, a Lamborghini Gallardo had been exported from California and was in Hong Kong. I learned that a Land Rover Discovery I owned had found its way through a Miami auction and down to Puerto Rico. It was leaking just as much oil on foreign soil as it was in my garage. I found out another car went to Russia. Another sold 3 times in a year after it left my hands. The information streams in still to this day and I continue to find more value in my connection to each car.

The world gets smaller every day and that disrupts industry after industry. We are here to bring a sledgehammer to the pinhole that the car world looks through toward the beautiful stage that is the life of our cars. We appreciate you coming along for the ride as we change automotive history.

-ed

True Beginnings

By on January 5, 2016 in Company

true-beginnings-vinwikiOn a cold night early into 2016, a group of guys met together to share their love and passion for cars… but more than that, discuss an idea that stemmed from their own personal and imminent need: How to tell a unique story of their own automobile’s history.

Interestingly enough, this idea had floated around some of their minds years ago, however, with no real legs on it, it fell to the wayside.

Enter in a new group of guys, fresh eyes, fresh perspective, and a passion for technology and cars.

“Changing automotive history.”

Join us, we’re excited for you to join us on this.

-peter