When MintCar founder Erik D. Griffith left behind a 27-year career in commercial banking to move with his new family to the remote hills of southeast Europe, it never occurred to him that he’d live his days there walking through the automotive history of Eastern Europe.
A Terrible Idea
While vacationing in Lisbon, Portugal with his soon-to-be wife, Erik Griffith casually noted how many quirky, interesting classic cars were not only easily found, but still being driven on the streets of Europe. Two espressos and a decision to move to Europe permanently later, the idea for MintCar was born.
One Year Later
Instead of moving to any of the better known parts of Europe, Griffith’s new family had him move and settle in a small town in the Balkans. For MintCar, this meant access to even quirkier classic cars, often unseen and sometimes unheard of in North America. It also meant a lot of Eastern European bureaucracy and access to shipping ports throughout Europe.
The Lada Niva
Among the classic vehicles available in this region, the Lada Niva soon became a MintCar favorite.
The simple, rugged Russian-made Niva was the first mass-produced off-road vehicle to combine a unibody architecture with a coil-sprung independent front suspension, creating a market segment for compact, economy 4×4 vehicles. The Niva is now longest running 4×4 vehicle still in production in its original form. (And Griffith currently owns two of these mechanical billy goats.)
MintCar was established as a limited liability company with the Business Registers Agency mid-pandemic in the summer of 2020. While it may be an uphill battle, we only expect things to get easier from here on in.
A Fine Future for Old Cars
In the early months of 2021, in what may be the worst months of a historical, global pandemic, MintCar expects to ship its first classic vehicles from Europe to their new owners in the United States. Please note that we are taking care to observe social distancing and protective gear recommendations at all stages of the procurement and preparation process. It may make things a little more difficult, but we plan on doing this for a while and we’d all like to be around for it.