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December 3, 2011 5:43 PM   Subscribe

How do I become one of those people who picks up luxury cars for rich people and drives them cross-country? I think that'd be a great job for me. To quote Rainman, "I'm an excellent driver."
posted by ktoad to Work & Money (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hm. I know a lot of rich people, many of whom have bought or otherwise transported luxury cars from one end of the country to the other, and they all just have them shipped on the back of a truck so they don't have to have some random person put a zillion miles on the car.

That said, a few years ago when my wife got a new car (sadly, a big family thing, not a luxury car), the dealership couldn't find one like we wanted anywhere in LA, so they had to send one of the dealership employees up to a dealership a few hours away to pick up the car and drive it back for us. I know a thing or two about the auto dealership industry, and I would be surprised if that person's qualifications were any more extensive than a) they worked in a non-sales position at the dealership, b) they had a clean driving record, and c) they promised not to smoke in the car.

As a lawyer, I have seen several other situations where people have been hired to, um, acquire and transport exotic cars across state lines. But I would not recommend those particular careers, so I won't go into detail here about how you get into them.
posted by The World Famous at 6:04 PM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Luxury cars that need to be transported cross-country are usually loaded into covered trailers. I've heard of people having their cars driven moderate distances (say, to get them to a dealership 100 miles away for repair) but those jobs tend to fall to people who are already known to and/or employed by the car's owner; as far as I know there just isn't much demand for people who are willing to drive around in fancy cars and get paid for it.

So if you're serious about this, I'd say your best bet is to get really good at working on luxury cars, move somewhere with a lot of wealthy people and get a job at a high-end garage. Spend a decade or two getting to know the people in the area who collect cars and see if you can interest one of them in hiring you to take care of their fleet.
posted by contraption at 6:06 PM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sounds good! Thanks!
posted by ktoad at 6:09 PM on December 3, 2011

I don't think that's an actual job that people do on a regular basis.

There are companies that specialize in shipping cars. Intercity lines is one such company, for example.
posted by smcameron at 6:12 PM on December 3, 2011

My grandpa did it occasionally for a few years, although they weren't luxury cars. He drove cars between midwestern dealerships for a while -- got the job from a dealer in his town whom he knew.
posted by naturalog at 6:31 PM on December 3, 2011

Possibly somewhat related..

I've heard of people who drive people's regular cars from Canada to Florida when folks head down there for the winter. I even knew one guy who got paid to fly someone's small plane down to Florida so the owner could have it down there. In each case it was usually older folks that were going to Florida for the winter and flew commercial because they didn't want to spend a few days behind the wheel going the slow way.

In terms of getting paid it wasn't very much (I think the pilot did it mainly for the free hours of flight experience + the cost of the return ticket).
posted by tiamat at 8:09 PM on December 3, 2011

I made a short distance move (halfway up the east coast) and my employer paid to have my (non-luxury) car loaded on the back of an 18 wheeler with the rest of my crap and shipped. Standard relo package. So I think it's not ridiculously uncommon to ship even non-lux cars.

If driving makes you happy, perhaps you should consider being the guy who drives the 18 wheeler truck?
posted by slateyness at 8:11 PM on December 3, 2011

Not exactly the same, but decades ago, I knew guys who drove cars between car-rental places.
posted by maurreen at 9:07 PM on December 3, 2011

Rainman was the Tom Cruise character, not the Dustin Hoffman character.

Moving companies move the vast majority of cars long distance, and they go on trains, not driven by humans.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:10 PM on December 3, 2011

My brother drive cross country a couple of times back in the early 90's with this company:

Drive Away

It doesn't look like they pay you enough money to live on, but it might be a good idea for a trip if you don't want to put miles on your own car.

Oh, and Rain Man was Dustin Hoffman's character, Raymond, called "Rain Man" by his little brother who couldn't pronounce the name correctly.
posted by skewed at 10:27 PM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Rather than luxury cars how about Motorhomes? There are at least a couple people in my my local that drive snowbirds motorhomes either down to the states or back or both every year. Motorhomes are large enough that they won't fit in/on dedicated car haulers so they have to be flat bedded, a much more expensive proposition than conventional auto transport; especially if one is on a tight schedule where you can't take advantage of a stand by back haul.
posted by Mitheral at 11:14 PM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I first visited the US in the 80s the above mentioned "Drive Away" company was considered a niche, cult and rather smart way for foreigners to see the county. Sure you would be unpaid, you would have to travel quite a number of miles per day and woe betide you if you damaged the vehicle: but beyond that it was your own road movie for free. It looks like a number of people still think that way.

Perhaps, as skewed suggests, building up some experience with such companies might give you something for your resume and a feeling as to whether you like the job.

Beyond this my suggestion is as follows: If you would like people to pay you to drive their luxury vehicles over long distances then think in terms of boats rather than cars.
posted by rongorongo at 3:30 AM on December 4, 2011

When my dad did it with new mass-market cars the process (or at lest his role as driver in the process) was called Dealer Exchange or DX.
posted by NortonDC at 5:05 AM on December 4, 2011

It looks like a number of people still think that way.

For what it's worth, that article was written in 1996, which is about the time that I last heard people talking about this routinely.
posted by Forktine at 6:13 AM on December 4, 2011

Craigslist has a rideshare section where people occasionally post 'drive my car to x.' I doubt these are luxury cars and I doubt there's much money there.
posted by kjell at 7:57 AM on December 4, 2011

What Mitheral said: recreational vehicles. But this industry has had a huge drop in sales with the recession.
posted by neuron at 2:23 PM on December 4, 2011

You might get to do this occassionally if you go into the detailing business, and specialise in exotics. But I think high-end detailing work is best for those with slight OCD...
posted by Harald74 at 11:21 PM on December 4, 2011

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