If you dread going to your 9-to-5 job every day, you may want to turn the page and skip this article. While most of us toil behind a desk or labor in a factory, Craig Brody is likely on the phone making a deal to buy or sell a rare classic Mustang or an expensive vintage guitar.
Craig operates his two businesses-Collectible Investment Cars, which deals in collectible cars, mostly Mustangs, and The Guitar Broker, which specializes in vintage guitars-out of a small office/warehouse space at the edge of the Everglades, just outside Weston in south Florida. The walls of the office space are lined with expensive guitars; the warehouse area at the time of our visit was filled with six collectible cars, five of them Mustangs. His ads in vintage guitar magazines almost always include a couple of Shelbys or other high-performance Mustangs pictured below his extensive list of guitars for sale.
Craig explains, "I like having the cars in the ads because people then remember me as the car guy, especially the guys who have an interest in cars. You see, guys who like cars usually don't understand guitars. But guys who play guitar, most of them appreciate cars."
Craig with two of his favorites-his...
Craig with two of his favorites-his '65 Shelby GT350 and the white '62 Fender Jazz bass that served as a model for his own line of Guitar Broker replica Jazz basses. He bought the Shelby in 2001 from Pete Geisler at Orlando Mustang.
While cars and guitars are worlds apart, Craig says the average buyer of vintage cars and guitars is similar. "They're almost identical," Craig says. "They're collector and investment minded guys who want the best example of history." But Craig points out one big difference between collector cars and collector guitars. With cars, restored vehicles and all-original survivors can be valued similarly. But guitars are totally different. "There are no valuable restored guitars. If they're not completely original, right down to the finish and the solder joints on the electronics, they plummet in value. A restored vintage guitar could be worth just 10 percent of an original."
Craig gets his love of cars honestly. His grandfather started selling used cars in front of his Long Island grocery store in 1918 before becoming one of Chrysler's first dealers in 1924. He eventually owned dealerships for everything from Hudsons to Locomobiles. Craig's father worked in the family dealerships before branching out with his own Dodge dealership in 1948. Craig remembers growing up around the car business and looking forward to the new models every fall.
He recalls visiting a Ford dealership, owned by a friend's father, when he was 8 or 9. "I saw my first '69 Shelby and immediately became a Ford guy. It's still my favorite muscle car."
Like father, like son, Craig ended up in the car business, working for a couple of new-car dealerships in south Florida. But ever the entrepreneur, he soon tired of the in-house politics and left to open a business related to his other passion: guitars. "My brother started playing guitar around 1970, so I started playing bass. I was interested in basses that were from the early 1960s because I already thought they were cool." For nearly ten years, Craig concentrated solely on The Guitar Broker. Then something happened that led him back to cars, but on his own terms.
"While riding bikes, I saw my best buddy get hit by a Honda. I watched him land on the roof of the car as it skidded by me, and when the car stopped it tossed him into the street. I thought he was dead. I went home and said to my wife, 'I'm not waiting any longer. Any day could be my last.' So at that moment I decided I was going to start my collector car business."
Instead of opening a brick and mortar store, Craig decided to operate Collector Investment Cars just like The Guitar Broker-either by phone or through the Internet. While that gives him the freedom to work-out or ride his bike whenever he wants, it also puts him on the job almost 24 hours a day. "As long as I've got my cell phone, I'm open for business. I don't miss a phone call if I'm awake."
Craig admits that being successful in the business of selling expensive cars and guitars requires a certain amount of knowledge. He says that cars require the most expertise. "When you're looking at survivors, cars and guitars are similar except there are more parts on cars. You have to know what's original. Is it original paint? Is it the original engine with the right numbers on the block? Is it the original transmission? Guitars are the same. You have to know how an original finish and solder joints age. You have to know codes for the pots and pickups. The guys who are buying these kinds of cars and guitars want the best and most original examples."
For Craig, it doesn't get any better than making a living with Mustangs and guitars. "I've got the best job in the world," Craig says. "I get to work with two things I enjoy, so I get to play with both of them too."
Craig bought his '69 GT fastback,...
Craig bought his '69 GT fastback, with 428 Super Cobra Jet and 4:30 Detroit Locker gears, from a mechanic in Palm Beach. "It came into his shop many years ago to replace the heads. When the bill came to $800, the owner told him to just keep the car, and he did-for 34 years."
Craig's '69 Shelby GT500 is...
Craig's '69 Shelby GT500 is admittedly a favorite. "There's something special to me about the '69-'70 Shelbys. The '68 GT500KR is more desirable but I think the '69 is prettier.
Craig bought his '92 Saleen...
Craig bought his '92 Saleen SC Speedster brand-new. It's one of only three made and the one car that Craig says he'll never sell. "It's the best driving, best running Mustang I've ever owned. It's ferocious."
If Craig is awake, he's open...
If Craig is awake, he's open for business. He gets calls from around the world for his guitars and Mustangs.
Craig's '68 GT500KR convertible...
Craig's '68 GT500KR convertible is an unrestored survivor car with 70,000 miles. The white '66 GT350 started life as a green and gold Hertz car but was repainted by a previous owner.