Test driving DriveShare

DriveShare

"Just leave it unlocked, that's what I usually do."

I'm about to drive off in another man's 1974 Ford Bronco. Twenty minutes ago we were total strangers, and now he's telling me it's better to leave the truck open rather than risk breaking the door key inside a finicky lock.

This kind of trust, I think, is inherent to the DriveShare experience. I signed up for a long weekend in California with the Bronco to try out Hagerty's peer-to-peer rental company and get a taste of what Ford's proto-SUV is actually like to drive. We'll come back to the driving bit in part two.

DriveShare, explained in simple terms, is like AirBnB for fun and unique vehicles. It’s similar to other peer-to-peer car rental services like Turo, but geared specifically to the collector car enthusiast. Interested owners list a car and set the price, and renters can reserve a vehicle either to drive or as a static display. A 10-percent service fee is added to the cost of the rental, and fuel is not included. On the owner side, DriveShare takes 35 percent of the rental fee, most of which covers insurance. Your Hagerty policy (if you have one) doesn't apply to DriveShare, so it has no impact on your premium or claims.

And while there are some amazing and interesting cars on DriveShare, it is important to realize this is not like opting for the Mustang convertible upgrade at the Hertz rental car counter. You're driving a car that somebody owns and cares about, not one a pawned off on you courtesy of a faceless corporation. It’s the owner that takes responsibility for making sure a car is in safe, working order. In the case of the Bronco, it has an aftermarket vacuum brake booster to give the four-wheel drums some approximation of modern stopping power.

The Bronco's owner stresses to me the responsibility he assumes by handing over the keys, especially when it comes to classic cars. As an example, he cites his classic Mulliner-bodied Bentley that he once drove on old, dry-rotted tires. (No, it's not listed to rent.) A blowout and the ensuing mayhem left the aluminum body badly damaged. "That was a $50,000 tire," he says.

In other words, DriveShare isn't as simple as taking some photos of your car and jumping to step three: profit. To do it right requires cleaning and checking the mechanical order of the car after every rental. That either requires time or cost to have someone else do it.

Logistically DriveShare differs from a typical rental in that you need to arrange drop off and pick up, usually at the location where the car lives. The specifics will no doubt evolve, but for now there's the added cost of transport to and from the car’s location.

The drop-off and return process is easy, but it has several steps to ensure confidence on both sides of the rental. Using the DriveShare mobile app (which for now is only used during a rental; reservations can only be made through the website), you verify the odometer reading and take a photo of every side of the car. Then you hand your phone over to the owner who verifies the info and signs off. After that, you're free to go.

If this sounds fairly involved, well, it's more complicated than a typical rental. Just like owning a classic car is more trouble than signing up for a $199-per-month lease on a brand-new midsize sedan. You do it for bigger reasons than getting from point A to point B. And if it means rolling up to your high school reunion in a sweet old Bronco, or maybe a Diablo, it’s worth it.

So if a DriveShare rental takes some time to get on the road, it's also a reminder not to rush. A good car lets you focus on the simple joy of experience, whether that's just driving, taking in the scenery, or any other way to get a break from the daily grind. DriveShare lets you do that all over the country, in a variety of cars that most of us don't have the finances or space to own all at once (if at all).

Next week: Mike saddles up for his first drive in a ‘70s Bronco.