Robert Kauffman, formerly of Fotress Investment, has created a disruptive online vintage car business, RK Motors. His hangar in North Carolina houses classic cars: Chevelles, Corvettes, Mustangs, Road Runners in all colors of the rainbow. Customers don’t need to travel to Charlotte to see the cars, but can purchase them online at rkmotorscharlotte.com. Around 90% of the cars RK Motors has sold were purchased online with a quarter going overseas. In 2013, RK sold 400 cars at $35 million. RK Motors is known for its transparency–no mystery about prices. This creates for the company customer loyalty, and repeat business comprises a third of its sales.
Kauffman’s passion for cars started early when he worked as an auto mechanic. While at Fortress, he was building his collection and owned 50% of Michael Waltrip Racing, a professional team that competes in Nascar. Waltrip told Bloomberg, “It (Kauffman’s) knowledge and expertise that turned my hobby into a business. I was in over my head.” Kauffman was experimenting as well until he merged his operations with classic car expert Joseph Carroll, and that was how RK Motors was born. While he has broadcast auctions from Abu Dhabi, his focus is ecommerce, with My Classic Garage, a site that operates like the Ebay of vintage autos. Kauffman told Bloomberg, “You have in one place the ability to track your portfolio, monitor the market, do your research and communicate with others.”