Founded in 1968 in Los Angeles by a young entrepreneur with a used car sales lot, Rent-A-Wreck began as a pioneering concept: renting used cars for less at neighborhood locations. Airport based car rental was typical in the 1960's, and most renters were business travellers or vacationers renting while out of town. Media coverage, notably in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Mike Wallace show, sparked national interest in Rent-A-Wreck, and by 1973, the company had sold its first franchised unit.
Since 1973, Rent-A-Wreck has grown to include franchised locations in 47 states and in Scandinavia and Iceland. The company operates primarily in neighborhood locations, often connected to or in close proximity to repair facilities, car dealerships or other automotive related services. Some Rent-A-Wreck locations offer airport pick-up and drop off.
Rent-A-Wreck was purchased by JJF Management on January 26, 2006. The purchase privatized the formerly public company, and added it to the stable of dealerships and car rental businesses owned and operated by the Fitzgerald Automotive Group under the leadership of Jack Fitzgerald, Bill Cash and Michael DeLorenzo. Under new ownership the company has begun an image makeover beginning with the hire of major independent advertising agency Cramer-Krasselt.
Rent-A-Wreck sponsored a NASCAR Winston Cup car, the #66 car in 1999, and the #49 NASCAR BUSCH series team owned by Jay Robinson from 2000 - 2002. From 2002 - 2006 Rent-A-Wreck sponsored the Sullivan Pulling team in the American Tractor Pullers Association.
Rent A Wreck sells franchises for $8,500 per location. The ongoing fees collected from the franchisee include a per unit license fee and a national advertising fee. Each are paid per month. Recently added franchises are located in Laurel, MD, Sheridan, WY, St. George, UT, Presque Isle, ME, Oxford, MS, and Iceland.