Considering the automobile is only a little over a century old it’s hard to believe one family could have five generations directly involved in antique cars as both their hobby and livelihood but that’s the case with Jim Grundy’s, President of Grundy Collector Car Insurance, family. In the companies early advertising they used expressions like “The Olde Original” and “It All Started Here “ to identify the company with its families roots in the car hobby.
It all started in 1906 when Colonel Samuel Baily, a Philadelphia entrepreneur and Jims Great Grandfather, invested in the Pullman Carriage Works located in York, Pa.. Colonel Baily didn’t initially have much faith in the newfangled automobiles, in fact he refused to own or even ride in one, but he did see the potential for making profits. He promptly converted the company to automobile manufacturing and within three years had sold over 3,000 Pullman cars resulting in some tidy profits and the attraction of investors who pursued Baily and eventually bought the company from him.
But the automobile passion didn’t die. The Colonels son, Samuel E. Baily had followed the engineering and manufacturing of the Pullman Cars and developed a keen interest in engines. Sam’s first pursuit was in building racing motorcycle engines which he did in a shop he built on the family’s farm in North Wales, Pa. Like many engine builders Sam wanted to prove his engines on the track. His motorcycle racing ended in its first season when Sam was involved in a violent crash leaving him with a broken back. He survived the injuries but his racing and motorcycle career was over. He then turned his attention to trucks and founded Barry & Baily trucks. Specializing in refrigerated units, the company made many of the early Good Humor and Jack and Jill ice-cream trucks.
On a regular basis Sam would drive the companies scrap metal to the salvage yards for pocket money. It was on one of these trips in 1937 that Sam was devastated to see the huge numbers of early cars being demolished to support the war effort which had begun knowing the Countries involvement in WW11 was inevitable. Fearing all the early cars would be destroyed and their engineering history with them, Sam traded his load of scrap for a 1909 Pierce Arrow model 36UU, a car similar to the top of the line Pullman model K. He delivered the Pierce to his factory and instructed his men that they would return the car to its exact original condition. The Pierce is in the Grundy family collection today. Later in his life, Sam’s restorations were considered of such a high standard that he was selected to write the judging criteria for the Antique Automobile Club Of America (AACA) which still stands today.
Moving forward to post WW11, Jim Grundy, Sr. retuned from duty and studied insurance with his funds awarded under the GI bill. Simultaneously he fell in love with Patty Baily, Sam Baily’s daughter, and they married in 1949. Jim had started the James A. Grundy Agency intending to focus on commercial and trucking insurance. Naturally he went after his new Father-in Laws truck factory account but Sam Baily was no pushover. He insisted Jim come up with a special insurance policy that would cover his and his friends investments in classic cars and do it at a drastically lower rate since the cars were sparsely driven primarily on Sunday drives and to early shows that were being organized. Jim put it all together and The Collector Vehicle Insurance Program was born.
Jim Sr. insured Sam and his friends but never envisioned the future of the collector car hobby and continued his primary focus on commercial insurance. Enter Jim Jr. in 1985… Sr. convinced his son to join the Agency as a commercial salesman but Jim took an immediate interest in The Collector Car Program. By this time the agency had about 3000 collector car policyholders nationwide. Grundy’s early competitors had also evolved and had grown dramatically having nearly ten times the Grundy’s in policyholders. Jim told his Dad they either had to stay in the Collector Car program and advertise or get out. With his first year advertising budget of $60,000, Sr. feared Jim would bankrupt the Agency. But the program started to grow and grow in leaps and bounds and Jim’s career was established. Over the years The Collector Vehicle Program has issued over a million policies and currently insures collections for over 300,000 hobbyists.
Over the last decade Jim’s sons Sam and Josh and daughter Gwendalyn have joined the Agency and expanded their product line to include classic car dealers, restores, museums and auction companies as well as launching the agencies Private Client Group, MVP, Collections and Classic Boat Programs which are expansions of the Collector Vehicle Program.
A typical weekend in the Grundy family is either being at a Concourse or just taking out three or four of their antique cars and touring to a family brunch on Sundays. Jim has five Grandchildren so far who he hopes will be the 6th generation in the family business and hobby. At least he’s encouraging it with Christmas and Birthday presents which as you might guess include models of old cars!