5 Minutes With Jim Grundy
You might recognize Jim Grundy from his Grundy Insurance TV commercials or the many collector car events he attends. Grundy is the President of Grundy Insurance and it would have been difficult for him not to go into the collector car insurance business. After all, his father, company founder James Grundy Sr., is credited with pioneering the concept of agreed-value insurance for collector vehicles back in 1947.
Grundy Sr. began offering collector car policies as a means for protecting the antique vehicles owned by Jim’s grandfather, Sam Baily, whose collection of Brass Era classics began with the restoration of a 1909 Pierce Arrow. The agreed-value concept, which offers low rates to insure classic vehicles at their full value, was an innovation that helped the fledgling collector car market grow. Little did Grundy Sr. know just how much demand would thrive in future decades.
Today, Grundy Insurance protects more than a million vehicles and the company owes much of that success to Jim Grundy, who joined James Sr. in the business in the 1980s and vastly expanded the Collector Vehicle Program. A third generation has now come aboard, too, with Jim’s sons Sam and Josh and daughter Gwendalyn joining the agency and expanding the product line to include classic car dealers, restorers, museums, and auction companies, plus classic boats.
We caught up with Jim Grundy for a few minutes to discuss the evolving collector car market, his passion for collecting, and the benefits of being in a family business.
Goodguys Gazette: What was your first car?
Jim Grundy: First car was a hand-me–down station wagon – Mercury Colony Park with a 390c.i. Marauder V8 to be exact. In those days gas was 30 cents a gallon, so the 8-9 miles to a gallon didn’t matter much!
GG: What was the first car you bought as a collector vehicle, not just transportation?
Grundy: My dad and grandfather were both car collectors and they encouraged me to get an old car. When I was 19, I bought a ’73 MGB for fun on the weekends; I was still driving the Mercury wagon daily. Dad and granddad didn’t think the MG was a “real collector car;” after all, it was brand new, so they convinced me to get a Model A as well.
GG: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in collector car insurance in recent years?
Grundy: The numbers! When my dad started the collector car insurance business, he anticipated it would be great if he wrote 5,000 policies. Today we insure over a million classic cars!
GG: Are you seeing changes in the types of cars enthusiasts are seeking to insure? Is there growth in vehicles from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s?
Grundy: Over the years we’ve seen enthusiasm for newer cars consistently. Generally, guys buy what they “drooled” over in their teens. When they achieve enough financial comfort to buy big boy toys, the car of their early dreams is often top on the list.
GG: We’ve read that you have quite a collection of Brass Era cars. What’s most intriguing to you about that time in automotive history?
Grundy: As I mentioned earlier both my father and grandfather were passionate about cars. Grandfather’s first collector car was a 1909 Pierce Arrow, which he acquired in 1939, barely an antique at that point. The family passion for early cars has passed down, in fact the Pierce is in our collection today. Driving and maintaining cars of the Brass Era is a completely unique experience unrelated to our daily drivers. As I often say, “every mile’s a miracle.”
GG: What’s the biggest difference in insuring original classics versus modified vehicles?
Grundy: The most obvious differences between stock and modified cars for us are both good and bad. The good is street rods tend to be safer with modern brakes, steering, lighting, etc. The bad is in the wrong hands they can be driven excessively.
GG: How many collector cars do you currently own?
Grundy: That’s a family secret; suffice it to say I need more garage space!
GG: What’s your go-to car for taking out on a leisurely Sunday drive?
Grundy: A 1908 Lozier. For those unfamiliar, Lozier was presumably the most expensive and powerful car of the day. Powered with a 735c.i. T-head six-cylinder engine on a 140-inch chassis capable of speeds close to 100mph. We drive it regularly on tour at highway speeds.
GG: What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? Do you have any secret talents or hobbies besides cars?
Grundy: We’re a blessed family of adventurers. In addition to running the business, having a family of six children and five (and counting) grandchildren, we also find time for sailboat racing, hunting, and fishing. Sailing in particular has been a lifelong passion. We are the current holders of The Newport to Bermuda race title, which to many is the Holy Grail of sailing
GG: You followed your father into the insurance business, and now your sons and daughter are involved. What’s the best part about working with family?
Grundy: Family involvement is the best part of going to work every day. Watching the boys learn and grow our business is the greatest reward a father can ask for. When I joined my father 35 years ago, we had five employees. Today we’re over 100 in a growing business. Wonder where they’ll be in 25 years!