The Ballad of the New York Rock Exchange Caddy
When we created the New York Rock Exchange we wanted to do things a little different. You can see that in just about everything we do. Our product, culture, and business model are novel, unexpected, and “just crazy enough it might work”. The same goes for our company car, and the story of how we acquired it.
It all began in 2011, when the New York Rock Exchange was little more than a gleam in our eye and a spring in our step. South By Southwest was coming, and we figured there was no better place to meet artists and talk about the future of music than the biggest, loudest music festival on the planet.
We wanted a meeting room where we could talk to artists, but the options weren’t very good. Showcases were pricey, and usually involved little more than a banner hanging behind a stage for a few hours. Every hotel in a 20-mile radius was either sold out or obnoxiously expensive. A small booth was going to run upwards of $20K. For 4 days.
Somebody said “$20,000? You could buy a car for that!”
So we did what any self-respecting start-up would do, and started looking at 1959 Cadillacs. Our logic was unshakeable. First off, a ’59 Caddy is infinitely cooler than a trade show booth (and much cheaper—we only put $3K down to buy that car!). Secondly, it has more room to meet people than many hotel rooms. And last but not least, we knew that if things ever went REALLY south, there’s room for at least 5 dead bodies in the trunk.
It was decided.
After a short search we found a beautiful candy-apple red coupe in Oregon. It had been painstakingly restored and customized by a loving owner named Jerry who used to tow his jet boat behind it. The car clearly had our name written all over it, so we flew up to Oregon and bought it on the spot. The next day I drove it 600 miles back to California.
Now, if you’re not familiar with a ’59 Cadillac, it’s a true American classic. It’s 20 feet long, has the biggest tailfins in history, and gets about 7 miles per gallon. It’s an heirloom of a time long past – a reflection of the opulence and optimism of a nation with a great war in its rearview mirror and space age in its high beams.
Since we’ve owed it, it’s become a centerpiece of our culture and a symbol of our journey. The roof is covered with autographs of the bands we’ve met along the way. Inside we’ve hosted artists and executives, businesspeople and bystanders. We use it for everything from video shoots to picking artists up at the airport. Sometimes we give rides to random people on the street just of the hell of it.
As you’d expect, it always gets a reaction. People stop, stare, honk, wave and take pictures at stoplights. I’ve had people—and I’m not making this up—APPLAUD as we drive by. The car just makes people happy.
And that’s why it’s a perfect fit for the New York Rock Exchange. Because our company is about embracing what you love. Our product is something you don’t see every day. Our customers aren’t afraid to stand up and be noticed.
And, because life is that much sweeter when you ride through with a set of tailfins.