History of Rent A Wreck

Los Angeles entrepreneur Dave Schwartz founded Rent-A-Wreck in 1968, originally with the name "Bundy Very Used Cars".

Before starting the rental car business, David Schwartz had a small used car business.

According to Stephen Arterburn in "The Power Book", one day a woman asked Schwartz to rent her a used car.

He explained that he wasn't insured for that sort of transaction.

She said, "Well, then sell it to me for three months, and I'll bring it back when I'm finished with it."

He agreed, and the woman brought the car back as promised.

Then he had an idea: Why not rent used cars to budget-minded customers?

The name change to Rent-A-Wreck came after a police report listed a stolen rental that was recovered as a "wreck."

Schwartz later found the car in the same condition in which it had left.

The name stuck, and was spread internationally after the company used it to sign up its first international franchisees in 1978 (the first domestic Rent-A-Wreck franchise was sold in 1973).

The name change to Rent-A-Wreck was a successful one, as CBS covered the company on its broadcast one day after the change, thanks to the quirky name.

The business got interest from Hollywood early on, with rentals of low-profile cars to actors like Henry Fonda who were looking to travel without fanfare.

As a business model, Rent A Wreck pioneered the concept of used car rentals.

Unlike the traditional airport rental companies, Rent-A-Wreck developed its niche serving the "neighborhood" rental market.

From the start, Rent-A-Wreck did less business travel renting than other car rental companies, in part because it does not pay travel agents' commissions.

Rent-A-Wreck has since grown to include over 400 locations in the U.S. and in Scandinavia, and is recognized as the world’s oldest and largest used car rental company.

Rent-A-Wreck was in an attempt to sell its business to San Diego Car Rentals, Inc in 2005, but the talks fell through.

Later, Rent-A-Wreck was purchased by JJF Management on January 26, 2006, which took the formerly public company private under the leadership of new owners Jack Fitzgerald, Bill Cash and Michael DeLorenzo for a purchase price (according to Hoovers) of about $2.5 million.

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