Mr Burch Formal Wear has the distinct privilege to work with some of Birmingham’s best wedding vendors and venues. We would like to take this opportunity to spotlight: Coats Classic Cars.
From the time he was old enough to grab a steering wheel, James Coats was fascinated with cars. During high school, he worked for a retired gentlemen who restored old cars and airplanes and he was hooked. At 16 James bought first antique car and got into the business of fixing up, buying, selling and restoring cars for others. In 2000, the day before his 18th birthday, James drove his first wedding.
Quickly, 10 weddings per year turned into 25, 25 into 50, and 50 into 150. James closed the restoration shop and focused on weddings. Coats Classic Cars is now the largest vintage limousine service in the Southeast, and the only full-time, fully-professional vintage limousine service in Alabama. They had over 150 weddings last year, plus photo displays and antique car events.
What makes you different?
There aren't many vintage car services in the United States. Most find it difficult to insure and maintain the cars for commercial use and collectors don't want to use their cars for rental. James is first and foremost a collector and historian who enjoys getting the cars out and sharing them with other people. Coats is a stickler for original cars in great condition (not what you expect from a rental service). Others may have antique-looking replicas but Coats rents just like they would show - historically accurate. Of course it's easier to offer authentic classics when you do all the repairs and resoration work yourself. He might be crazy for renting the caliber of car he rents, but that is what his customers have come to expect.
How should you select a rental vehicle?
Most clients know if they want modern or an antique. Coats refers stretch limo companies for prom and airport pickup, but they prefer to focus on weddings, special occasions and photo shoots. "They are providing a canvas for the photographer," said Danny Brewer
, owner of Feel The Beat.
These cars will still be in style 10-15 years from now. All the cars are different. There are 19 in the fleet spread across 3 cities, Birmingham, Huntsville and Jackson. There are multiple styles and colors are available. If it's authentic classic style you're looking for, Coats has it.
What are the most common mistake clients make when looking for a rental vehicle?
Ther are a couple of things the client needs to understand when hiring a car rental company.
1. The nature of what you're hiring. You're not only paying for the performance but for the maintainence and upkeep. That's why we charge by the package and not the hour.
2. Research the company you're hiring. Do they carry commercial liability insurance on all vehicles? Other companies might not be correctly insured. You don't want to be caught in the middle of someone else's uninsured car accident or stuck with a vintage car company that only has personal auto insurance which won't protect you in the event of an accident.
3. Ask about the backup plan. We have 11 cars in Birmingham but we won't rent more than 5 at a time so there is always a backup plan. We always have a chaffeur on stand by, in tuxedo and ready to go. We maintain our cars to a very high standard to ensure reliability, but with decades-old mechanical equipment, things can break. We rarely need the backup, but there is no room for error.
4. Plan ahead. Try to book 8 months ahead so you can get exactly what you want. We can help a few weeks before but you might not get exactly the car you want.
Coats Classic Cars
is the Southeast's premiere Wedding & Special Occasion transportation provider -- with locations in Birmingham, Alabama, Huntsville, Alabama, and Jackson, Mississippi. When you want classic authenticity, Coats Cars is the only choice.