Chau Nguyen inside a Dark Moss Vintage Bronco custom created for actor Chase Stokes PHOTO BY PATRICK HEAGNEY
CHAU NGUYEN IS EASILY ONE OF THE BRIGHTEST BUSINESSMEN OF THIS ERA. THE FOUNDER AND CEO OF VINTAGE BRONCOS HAS FLAWLESSLY INCORPORATED THE ENCHANTED, STATUESQUE DESIGN OF A FIRST-GENERATION CLASSIC FORD BRONCO WITH MODERN-DAY TECHNOLOGY, LUXURY AND RELIABILITY, MAKING THE VINTAGE BRONCO ONE OF THE MOST DESIRED CARS NATIONWIDE.
“You can’t fake passion,” exclaims serial entrepreneur and car connoisseur Chau Nguyen (@chauism), who represents determination personified. Through experience and spending time studying marketing at the University of Oregon, Nguyen became well-versed in the business of building brands.
From getting his first taste of entrepreneurship in grade school selling lemonade and friendship bracelets to running a multimillion-dollar enterprise, it’s safe to say the lemonade didn’t quench his entrepreneurial thirst. Though experienced, Nguyen possesses a genuine fervency that places him a cut above the rest. Nguyen built Vintage Broncos (@vintagebroncos) from scratch, and the brand has skyrocketed in popularity and esteem in less than five years, though his love for automobiles extends further than his tenure in business.
Nguyen’s business acumen and aim for excellence have gained his brand a cult following. From Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez to Mark Wahlberg and Chase Stokes, Vintage Broncos is a soughtafter brand that celebs and car fanatics alike are eager to put their names on the almost yearlong waitlist. Prices start north of $200,000, and the experience of owning a Bronco is worth every cent.
Each Bronco is handcrafted and custom created to the liking of each buyer, furthering the sense of connection through the personalization of the vehicle. The car enthusiast has mastered the art of preserving the beloved utilitarian frame of the Bronco while integrating it with modern technology, creating reliability and luxury that can’t be duplicated elsewhere.
“Do what you love, surround yourself with people who are like-minded and be relentless in the pursuit of perfection.”
Though the Bronco is flawless in design and actively appreciating in value, Nguyen’s innate hunger incessantly searches for ways to improve it, a work ethic that allows him to easily leave competition in his rear view.
He plans to offer a 100% electric option in the near future, as well as announce the introduction of new models available for customization, which will cater to an even larger audience. We’re taking a peek into the mind of one of the greatest businessmen in the country.
Members of the Vintage Broncos team posted with vehicle chassis PHOTO BY PATRICK HEAGNEY
When and how did your affinity for cars begin?
The car obsession happened early on for me. My parents were refugees from Vietnam, so their view on cars was very different from mine. My dad would say, ‘A car takes you from point A to point B.’ Meanwhile, I was enamored by automotive design, the sound, the brand and the way a car can make you feel. … It was clear then that if I wanted a ‘cool’ car it wasn’t going to be from my parents. I was fortunate to land a great first job out of college running sales for a media startup, led the company to high growth and bought a brand-new Porsche Boxster when I was 22. Since then, I’ve owned 50-plus cars, just about every brand you can think of: Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Aston Martin, Bentley, AMG, etc. Early on in my career I worked hard just so I could buy cars. That changed over time, but it has always been my reward for winning.
How did Vintage Broncos begin and how long did it take for the business to materialize? Why Broncos?
The original 1966 to 1977 Ford Bronco was a dream car of mine since high school. A guy at my school had one and I remember him driving around on a sunny day with the top down, music on, friends in the back and I knew I had to have it one day. The design is timeless. Fifty years later, it still looks better than 99% of the cars on the road today. The boxy, utilitarian design is iconic and is one of the most desirable vehicles on the road today. I bought my first Bronco five years ago. It looked great from 10 feet away, but everything about it was a mess. It leaked everywhere, was scary to drive and left me stranded many, many times. Melissa (my wife) refused to go anywhere in it because her hair would smell like gas and I wasn’t allowed to take the kids to school because we didn’t know if we would make it. This experience is typical for a classic car. Fifty-year-old cars have 50-year-old problems. The business was formed purely out of love and passion for the Bronco. My goal was to modernize the Bronco so the typical buyer who has no desire or ability to wrench on their vehicle could own and drive it daily while maintaining the vintage charm. Over time, the brand grew, and we keep pushing the envelope on modern car reliability, performance and luxury.
Why do you believe the concept of Vintage Bronco has been so well received?
Our brand resonates with our audience. We work hard; we play hard; and at the end of the day, we are obsessed with Broncos just as much as our fans. You can’t fake passion. Timing is also a key part of our success. Twenty years ago, traditional restoration was focused on all original parts, numbers matching and restoring vehicles back to the way they were 50 years ago. It’s 2022 and the market has evolved. Today, people want the vintage car design but they don’t want the vintage car problems. We give them the classic car design they know and love and thoughtfully weave in modern car reliability, performance and luxury. Today’s modern car buyer is spoiled by modern car reliability and creature comforts. It’s hard for our customers to imagine going backward in time. We also stand behind our product and care immensely about the happiness of our customers. We know what they want and work tirelessly to deliver happiness.
PHOTO BY PATRICK HEAGNEY
“Behind the brand is a team of people who put their blood, sweat and tears into each and every build.”
What has been your most memorable career moment?
I sold my first startup to a publicly traded company in my early 30s. Ten years of grinding away resulted in a top 100 app on the app store, named one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. I was rated one of the top 100 CEOs and created career opportunities for over 5,000 people. The hard work paid off and I bought a lot of cars to celebrate afterward.
What is something most people do not know about your business?
Behind the brand is a team of people who put their blood, sweat and tears into each and every build. They take a lot of pride in their work and every detail matters. We’re building dream cars for our customers and do not take that commitment lightly.
You are incredibly hands-on with your business and team. Why is it important to you to cultivate that environment with your staff?
Leadership starts from the top. The founder sets the tone for the business. In this line of business, it’s critical that our team members share the same level of passion for their work or it just doesn’t work. Passion and enthusiasm is contagious and it’s my job to inject this daily into the DNA of the company. I also spent the majority of my career coaching, mentoring and teaching people how to achieve success in life. When your team is fully engaged and they are growing personally and professionally, good things happen. Plus, what can be more fun for a car guy than this. It’s hard to beat. Do what you love, surround yourself with people who are like-minded and be relentless in the pursuit of perfection.
Each Bronco that your team custom builds is pristine from body to engine. What is it that you want clients to experience when they purchase a Vintage Bronco?
Our goal is to make their Bronco dreams come true. It’s a big task and we don’t take it lightly. We strive for perfection cosmetically and mechanically. They aren’t just buying a rare, handbuilt vehicle; they’re buying an experience. The Bronco ownership experience is a unique one. It’s an American icon that is coveted by men and women, young and old. You can’t go anywhere in a Vintage Bronco without being stopped, requests for pictures, questions about the car, lots of smiles and thumbs-up, etc. The way it makes you feel is equally important as the vehicle itself.