As the hands of time turn, the wheels of history roll.
In a city full of buses, a new tour service that uses vintage Jazz Age cars to shuttle customers around launched Tuesday.
Called Nowaday, the service essentially chauffeurs tourists and New Yorkers alike around historical landmarks while giving them a ride in one of 12 restored vintage cars, including a 1928 Ford Model, a 1932 Chrysler Imperial and a 1931 Chevrolet Series AE.
On Monday, amNewYork gave the tour a spin with co-founder Jaime Getto. Getto and the tour guide, who was dressed in 1920-era driving garb, picked this reporter up at MetroTech Center before heading out for a jaunt in Brooklyn. Soon, admirers of all ages started taking photos with their cellphones and giving thumbs up to the guide.
With the turn of a key, the 1931 Chevy Series AE roared to life.
“It’s a head-turner every time we go out,” Getto said.
While the company, which was founded by two 28 year olds, Getto and Heather Stupi, plans on expanding to other boroughs and neighborhoods (like Downtown in December) and eventually other cities, the tour currently does a 60-minute-long loop in midtown, circling from Central Park South to Carnegie Hall and from Grand Central Station to the Flatiron Building and back up, passing by several landmarks along the way.
With all the comforts of a modern-day car, the Chevy’s sound system played the company’s Spotify playlist of electro swing/house music as the tour guide/tour operations guy, Josh Wardell, filled his three passengers in on New York City facts, like how one in 38 Americans call New York City home and the origin story of the name, “The Big Apple.”
“Our mission is to tell the story of every city we’re in — New Yorkers who take the tour, even lifetime New Yorkers, get schooled in the history of the city,” Getto said. “We’re taking the content very seriously.”
Each driver/tour guide, who is trained extensively both inside and outside the car, speaks in character and narrates the tour — even through traffic. Improvisation is definitely a part of the experience, too. Between facts, tour guide Josh shared his favorite candy — a piece of salt water taffy and talked about his time driving around the city (which looks quite different than it did in his time).
Getto and Stupi wanted to offer history tours in vintage cars because they were less-than-impressed with the typical bus tours in the city that they’d take visitors on.
“It’s a fun thing to do that’s more than dinner and drinks and it doesn’t make you feel like an outsider or tourist,” Getto said.
Choosing Jazz Age vehicles to escort people around in was done to fit the story of New York City in particular — when a lot of the now-landmarks were going up in Midtown, these were the first cars on the road then, she said.
When Nowaday expands to L.A., they’ll use cars from the 1950s-60s to best tell those stories, she added.
“There’s a mystique to it — people really only see these cars on a movie shoot or at a car show. People say they feel like celebrities when they take a ride,” she said. “It feels like it belongs in NewYork City.”
To find out more and book a tour, visit nowaday.com. Admission starts from $49.