rolls royce princess

One of two 1957 Rolls Royce Princesses that is available for rental from Carolina Classic Car Rentals.

 

Julian Foster has a small business with a fleet of five cars unlike almost any other. One of the cars is a 1952 Rolls Royce Wraith; two others are 1957 Rolls Royce Princesses; another is a 1960 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud; and the last — Foster’s favorite — is a 1940 Cadillac LaSalle. The fleet is the small business.

The collection of luxurious cars from yesteryear serve another practical purpose: “The reason behind it is a my wife and I established this to be able to eventually pay for our kids’ college,” Foster said. 

The Fosters took over Carolina Classic Car Rentals two years ago. Julian Foster is a full-time nurse at Wake Med, and his wife is a nurse practitioner. The couple shared a fascination with classic cars and had enough flexibility in their schedules to take on the business. Julian handles the care, servicing and logistics of getting the cars to the events, while his wife, Jennifer, handles the phone calls and emails.

“The kids wash the cars and go with me to the photoshoots, and to some of the meetings,” Foster said. “It’s a complete family business.”

Weddings are the primary occasion for renting from Carolina Classic Cars. Foster said his company has three levels of rental: bronze, silver and gold. The differences in the levels are the number of miles and hours for use of the cars. Each rental comes with a professionally dressed chauffeur. Clients get to ride in the car and have use of it for photos.

Foster said he will also rent his cars for anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas parties, and even parades. “We had two candidates who used our cars in parades. And then we had one person down at the Outer Banks, who was named Ambassador. She was 80 years old,” he said.

The company has also received requests to use their cars in a music video and for use in movies. Foster said they will try to accommodate almost any request. The company only has a few restrictions, including no pets allowed in the cars, nothing can be placed on the hood, fenders, or top, and only the contracted drivers are allowed to drive. Carolina Classic Car Rentals employs four drivers on an as-needed basis. The Fosters have known each of the drivers for more than a decade.

While Foster handles minor upkeep of his fleet of rentals, the more complicated maintenance is handled by a mechanic. “He’s a specialist and he’s wonderful. Most of the parts have to be custom fabricated and made, because you can’t go out and get apart from 1960 or 1940. The mechanic I have is very skilled at fabrication and customizing parts. He’s a custom mechanic.”

The company serves three states, including the southern area of Virginia and the northern parts of South Carolina and all of North Carolina. The company has two diesel trucks and trailers that are used to transport the cars to the event locations. This helps to reduce wear and tear on the vehicles and decreases the possibility for being involved in an accident. The cars are often never driven more than 25 miles while they’re in service.

Getting into any of Foster’s cars is like stepping into a luxurious time machine. The cars are roomy, polished and refined. You won’t find seat warmers or in-dash GPS, but you will find air conditioning. Foster has upgraded each of the cars with modern sound systems. They have power windows. As glamorous as you feel riding in the back, for the driver, it doesn’t take long to miss modern conveniences.

“People always ask me how they ride,” Foster said. “I say they ride like classics. There’s so much of a difference between the technology that we’re used to, and we’re afforded, versus a classic car. I love those cars, and they’re great for the event and they’re great for short travel, but when you jump in your car you appreciate that convenience and technology that you’ve gotten used to. But, at the same time, it’s amazing how far ahead of time they were back then to be able to have the things that they have. And you cannot drive these cars without getting attention. We have to carve out extra time to take the cars to the gas station to be able to answers people’s questions.”

Despite the head-turning reaction to their cars, Carolina Custom Car Rentals’ business suffered during the pandemic. People had plans, but venues weren’t open, and dates had to be pushed back. Foster said when customers cancelled plans he and his wife made a point to refund everyone, or offer a later date. 

“It’s been tough but it’s starting to pick up now. Now that we have more clarity about what’s going to be open and how many people can be in a certain place,” he said.

Foster said of all the events his cars are used for, weddings are his favorite. While he never wants his cars to upstage the bride and groom, they’re often the setting for intimate moments between family members and future family members.

“Those individual moments that are caught in the back of the car are amazing and unwritten and it’s so pure,” Foster said.

For more information, go to www.carolinacarrentals.com