I knew it! I knew the fine site Bring-A-Trailer had a smart engineer behind it! His name is Randy Nonnenberg, and in addition to being a cofounder of a wildly successful internet automotive auction-house, he’s also a certifiable Autopian. Here, listen to Jason, Beau, and me talk with him about how he started his empire. Oh, and there’s talk about a very special RV.
I became an instant-fan of Nonnenberg when we talked the other day, in part because we have a lot in common. We both have mechanical engineering degrees, we both worked for major automakers, we both founded car websites, and we both have ridiculously quirky taste in cars (he has nicer cars, of course — cars like a Renault R5 Turbo II). Needless to say: Our chat on The Autopian Podcast with this site’s co-founders Beau Boeckmann and Jason Torchinsky was awesome. Here, have a listen, and learn the history behind how Nonnenberg co-created such an incredible marketplace for classic cars:
In this podcast, Randy really digs into how he started Bring A Trailer. He talks about how he was his friends’ “go-to” guy for finding rare cars, and how one buddy suggested he turn his skills into a business. At the time, Nonnenberg was working as an engineer for BMW in Munich after having interned for the company (doing BMW M-car engine work) and previously for Ingoldstadt-based Audi. Nonnenberg talks about how he began Bring a Trailer as a blog that highlighted cool cars currently for sale on Craigslist and eBay and other locations around the web. In time, his site gained traction, and readers began submitting listings. This really built Bring a Trailer’s momentum, and eventually it went from a blog to a legitimate auction site (obviously I’ve skipped a lot here, so definitely give the full podcast a listen).
Randy, Beau, Jason (sort of; he was in a loud airport) and I also chat in that podcast about the most interesting cars ever sold on Bring a Trailer, including a 1972 Ford Condor II motorhome that used to belong to the McLaren Engines chairman, and that CEO of McLaren Racing Zak Brown purchased off Bring a Trailer in June of 2020. Seriously, check this thing out:
My god, the brown driver’s seat, the dark green carpet, the wood — it’s all just so perfect. Bring a Trailer has a story about this RV on its blog. Here’s a little snippet:
The ex-McLaren 1972 Ford Condor RV that we listed drew quite a crowd 2 weeks ago, and the winning bidder really called his shot when he commented that the buyer was Zak Brown, the CEO of McLaren Racing. Little did we know that the RV would make its way to Indianapolis this weekend for Sunday’s running of the Indy 500. Check out the photos below of Mr. Brown taking delivery, and also of Fernando Alonso and his teammates talking McLaren history inside the “Papaya Condor.”
But you didn’t come here to read a blog, you came here to hear Randy Nonnenberg, an incredibly sociable car-nut whom I’d love to have back on either our podcast or as a guest writer on the site. I’m especially interested in learning more about his engineering background in Germany.
Hey Autopian you both created car websites. This guy is getting rich on selling cars he doesnt own. You thinking about having a cars for sale section? How about every writer finds a car for sale on facebook, craigslist, or wherever and posts them on Monday. They can talk to the seller do research whatever. Whoevers cars sell for closest to asking or above asking wins. Kind of like NFL ON FOX with the broadcasters picking teams. Readers of Autopian can vote, or help advertise, buy the car, talk smack. To see who picked it right.
I suggested title Its easier to pick your nose than to pick a good used car.
If you use this I want recognition. Maybe a honorary employee and $20.
That Hurst-looking center console shifter looks whack as fuck, I love it.
Man that setup was in many 60s and 70s AT. I liked them better than todays aluminum straws.
Is it me or does the shifter appear to be floating in mid-air?
I got a direct reply from Randy once. Yay me!
I saw this motorhome at a Fabulous Fords Forever show in Anaheim years ago. I didn’t know the McLaren connection at the time. In fact, I’m more familiar with the Condor as Cousin Eddie’s motorhome in Christmas Vacation.
Shitter was full!
Sadly it went from cars that needed a trailer to tow them home, to wanting it trailered because of the ton of money you had to drop.
I’d have to disagree with that lately. Recently BaT has had several super clean examples of “average” cars like a Ford Tempo, LTD, and a Chevy Celebrity. It’s been nice to see some attainable cars on there.
Nor attainable by price. People bid bonkers on the site.
Makes me think is it Carvana bidding insane amounts?
The motorhome is sweet..but lounge seats that make into beds are – in my experience – not.