Q&A: Bringatrailer.com Editor-in-Chief Randy Nonnenberg

James Chiang

As editor-in-chief of the vintage-car site www.bringatrailer.com, Randy Nonnenberg helps car guys start their day in an unproductive way with his daily morning e-mail.

How many people get your daily e-mail with info on vintage cars for sale?
About 8000 people get the daily Bring a Trailer e-mail. Others also get instant notifications and different services that we have, such as finding particular cars.

When did you start Bring A Trailer?
Early 2007.

How did you get started?
The site was started by me and a college friend, Gentry Underwood. He had a lot of expertise in the Internet, and I had the vintage-car knowledge. We had been ping-ponging e-mails back and forth with ideas about vintage cars to buy online. Eventually we thought someone might like to read that sort of commentary.

Have you always allowed reader comments?
We had that from the beginning. We wanted it because, while we have something to say about the cars, there are definitely people out there who know a whole lot more about a particular model, so there's something to be gained by allowing them to comment. Sometimes previous owners of a car will be in the audience, and they'll chime in and share their experience with it. And that makes reading about the car or purchasing it a richer experience.

Are most of the vehicles that you feature ones that you find or cars that people submit to you?
It has evolved. As the audience has grown and become more enthusiastic, they've been leveraged as search helpers, if you will. So, I'd say at this point it's probably about fifty-fifty. We still do a fair amount of finding cars ourselves and digging around to make sure that we live up to our claim of finding the best of the best, but by sending in their tips, the audience has been integral in terms of letting us feature more cars.

How many cars do you reject for every one that you accept?
For the BaT Exclusive cars, we feature only about one out of five. In terms of the general submissions, it's really only one out of twenty or forty.

What are you looking for in a Bring A Trailer car?
We want the cars to be something set apart from the rest. Price is the first component; rare models; cars with an interesting history. We like cars of all different types-we like American stuff, we like Japanese cars, we like all the different European makes. The site isn't patterned after a single-marque car show; it's more like going to the paddock at the vintage races, where you see cars from all over the place and the variety is what makes the experience great.

Do you sometimes scoop up a car for yourself rather than post it?
Frankly, I wish that we could buy everything that comes across BaT, but the reality is that we can't. The gut check on whether we feature a car is whether it's one that we would like to own and drive.

For more information, visit www.bringatrailer.com

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