A Classic Affair
By Jack Feuer
Published Jan 1, 2013 8:00 AM
Nothing sounds finer than a classic car in peak condition. Nothing feels better than a fast ride on an empty road. For many, love of fine automobiles is a lifelong commitment. It isn't a bad business model, either.
Afshin Behnia '92, his sister, Shirin Behnia '98, and Barmak Behdadnia '89 had different interests—software development; marketing; and film, TV and web writing, respectively—but they were "united in a passion for classic cars, a love of great writing and an appreciation for photography and videography," says Shirin, vice president of marketing for the new venture, whose favorite car is the Jaguar E-Type.
In September, the trio launched petrolicious.com, a website producing original content for car enthusiasts that attracted an impressive 50,000 visits just in its first two weeks.
At the site, visitors can soak up vintage Porsche posters, a report on the "Best of France and Italy" car show in Van Nuys, Calif., or a roundup of Bond cars. There are Petrolicious Productions videos that celebrate classic cars like one titled "Triumph TR3A: The Fountain of Youth" and incredible, historic stills like the one with the anchored Goodyear Blimp towering over a car equipped with eerie red illuminated tires.
Afshin, Petrolicious' CEO, came up with the idea for the online start-up, he explains, because "as an avid photographer and classic car enthusiast, I was always hungry for high-quality content on the web on vintage cars. And though I found no shortage of videos, very few captured the spirit and enthusiasm of the classic car world."
Shirin was bitten by the car bug during long, family road trips, when the occasional hot ride would zoom by and enliven a boring journey. For Barmak, the company's production manager who "was won over by the Alfa Romeo Duetto ever since I watched The Graduate," classic love came when "I was converted by my older brother when we were kids. I looked up to him and he loved sports cars."
And Afshin? The Petrolicious founder was hooked at 4 years old, when his mom drove up in a brand-new, light green, 1974 BMW 2002. He has a special place in his heart for the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale, but he confesses, "That's way out of reach." His favorite attainable car is his 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale, "not just for the beauty of the car itself, but also because my wife and I have had so much history with it. We even used it to elope."