The dream of owning a vintage sports by Levone


									    Borrowed Time
     If you don’t want to own your dream, exotic carshares
     can at least get you behind the wheel

     Words and PhotograPhy by Craig Fitzgerald

             he dream of owning a vintage sports           ourselves. Financially, owning such a car       a decent, protected garage space in New
             car or a brand new, true exotic is            can be a crushing burden. Mechanically,         York City is enough to turn you off having a
             something most of us have had in              the cars need near constant time and atten-     Hyundai, let alone something desirable.
     our heads since an early age. Ever since you          tion that most of us working stiffs—even          So what’s the budding car enthusiast with
     caught your first glimpse of a real, live Ferrari     ones with quarter-million-dollar-a-year sala-   a few extra bucks in his pocket to do? Don’t
     threading through traffic, you’ve heard the           ries—either can’t or aren’t willing to pony     buy it; share it.
     siren call of exotic Italian machinery.               up for.                                           Suddenly, around the country, there’s a
        Unfortunately for many of us, the reality             And that doesn’t take into account the       boom in exotic and sports car timeshares.
     of owning such a car can never match up               garage space, which is at an absolute           The basic program is this: For an annual
     with the lofty expectations we set out for            premium for city-dwellers. The price for        fee, you’re allowed a certain number of

                                  • FEBRUARY 2007
days to drive in the club’s collection of cars.    for larger events, which seem to happen at     a lounge, and an office.
Most clubs work on a points system, where          pretty regular intervals. When we arrived,       The Classic Car Club in Manhattan offers
you’re allotted a number of points with your       early on a Tuesday afternoon, the club had     a standard membership for $7,000 a year,
annual membership. The more exotic the             played host to a corporate event—a sort        plus a one-time $1,500 initiation fee. That
car, the fewer days you get to spend, and          of detuned Cannonball rally—earlier that       may sound like a lot of money, but con-
the busier the weekend, the more likely it         morning, with the discarded donut boxes        sider this: A recent ad on
is to consume more points. So it’s to your         and coffee cups to prove it.                   advertised an uncovered parking space in
advantage to drive less desirable cars during        Director Mike Prichinello tells me that      Queens for $200 a month. That’s $2,400 a
the week.                                          the club was originally envisioned by a pair   year, just to park a car outside, and at the
   We visited two exotic car timeshare             of brothers in London, another notoriously     end of the day, you’ll still be driving your
clubs — one fairly established, and one            jampacked urban center that makes owning       clapped-out Tempo.
more recent startup — in New York City and         a car seem as smart as screen doors on a         “The $7,000 a year includes 750 driv-
the Boston area to find out how the clubs          submarine. Launched in 1995, the original      ing points for the year, which they can
work and what you can expect. Both have            Classic Car Club offered Londoners the         share with a spouse or a family member,”
their strengths and weaknesses, both are           chance to experience time behind the tiller    Prichinello says. The club’s Web site offers
significantly different price-wise, and both       in some of the world’s finest automobiles.     a simple calculation tool to figure out how
offer a completely different range of auto-        In just over a decade, the club became         many points choosing a certain car on
mobiles, so it’s a good comparison of what         something of a phenomenon, with seven          a certain date will cost, based on which
you might expect to find offered in your           branches, 1,000 members and over 100           “Band” or tier the car falls into. The club’s
area sometime in the near future.                  cars in its stable, ranging from the humble    2001 Porsche 911 Turbo is in Band 6 (the
                                                   Fiat 124 Spider to the more exotic Ferrari     highest tier), while the 1977 MGB falls into
Classic Car Club                                   328 GTBi QV.                                   Band 1. Choosing the MGB for a single
new york, new york                                   When the Classic Car Club wanted to          weekday in January would cost you just two
When I say that the Classic Car Club is lo-        launch in the U.S., it landed in New York      points. Borrowing the 911 on a Saturday in
cated at the very end of the Lincoln Tunnel,       City just the way the Beatles did in 1964,     June will set you back 16 points.
I mean that the side wall of the club’s garage     when American partners Prichinello and           Beyond that, all you pay for is gas.
is the Lincoln Tunnel. Upon entering the           Zac Mosley set up shop in New York City’s      Insurance, title fees, registration, mainte-
club, it’s clear that this place is just as much   Hudson Square, in a first-floor garage large   nance and storage are all part of the mem-
about hanging out as it is about driving. Its      enough to house the 27 cars on the premis-     bership, as is access to the club’s many
cool, clubby atmosphere can be dialed up           es, a three-bay workshop in the back corner,   events throughout the year. Recently, the

                                                                                   FEBRUARY 2007
                                                                                                                         • HEMMINGS SPORTS & EXOTIC CAR
     club ran a dirt-bike school for several               Porsche Carrera GT and the Spyker C8.          lardo, and a Maserati Quattroporte. For
     members, and offers the club up for                     Perhaps the greatest advantage to the        the immediate future, Caron is simply in
     holiday parties and other events. Rob                 Classic Car Club is the range of cars.         the business of supplying his members
     Zombie recently shot part of a film in the            Along with the requisite Porsches and          with cars, but next year’s goal is to have a
     club’s cavernous garage.                              Ferrari 308s, the club also offers a handful   private clubhouse located somewhere in
       Classic Car Club’s stable is definite-              of vintage muscle cars, a 2006 Chevrolet       downtown Boston.
     ly weighted toward vintage cars. Only                 Corvette Z06, and even a 1972 Chevrolet          Currently, the entire collection is
     nine of the 27 are from the 2000s. The                Cheyenne Super pickup truck, allowing          housed in a brand new, security-gated
     club’s oldest offering is a 1957 Porsche              you to step into something completely          aircraft hangar in the north-of-Boston
     Speedster, and a good percentage of the               different if you decide you’d like a change    suburb of North Andover. While The
     cars are from the 1970s. We took out a                from the 1988 Porsche 911. For those of        Otto Club does offer free 75-mile deliv-
     well-matched pair: a 1972 BMW 2002 tii                us afflicted with automotive attention         ery service to its members, Caron finds
     and a 1975 Alfa Romeo GTV, which were                 deficit disorder — your humble author          that most members are more interested
     Band 2 and 3 cars respectively, neither of            most definitely included — this benefit        in driving their own cars to the club’s
     which would cost a ton of points to drive             alone may be worth the price of entry.         location and having them stored and
     around most weekends of the year. Both                                                               detailed there while they drive one of the
     cars are definitely drivers, but you’d be             the otto Club                                  club’s lustful collection.
     proud to show up to your high school                  boston, Massachusetts                            By focusing solely on ultra-high-end
     reunion in either one.                                The Otto Club is cleverly named for the        exotics, The Otto Club can offer a much
       By the time you read this, Classic Car              inventor of the four-stroke internal com-      lower member-to-car ratio. Obviously,
     Club will have initiated their new Carbon             bustion engine, Nicolaus Otto. The mon-        that access comes with a price tag. The
     Fiber Collection. Access to these cars will           ey founder John Caron invested in the          Otto Club’s membership starts at $18,000,
     require a buy-in of $22,700, but will include         collection has been almost completely          and currently goes as high as $28,000 per
     access to a much higher level of ultra-               devoted to the cars, which include a Fer-      year. Caron notes, though, that when his
     exclusive cars, including the Ferrari F430,           rari F360 Modena, a Lamborghini Gal-           members do the math on what it would

                                  • FEBRUARY 2007
cost to lease any of the cars in the col-     the hangar. “It’s just not exotic enough
lection, the math definitely comes out in     for these guys,” he says, adding that the
The Otto Club’s favor.                        car will be replaced for the 2007 season,
  Like the Classic Car Club, access to        along with the Ferrari F348 Spider, which
The Otto Club’s collection is based on a      is currently for sale.
point system. For the $18,000 Red-level          The Otto Club recently purchased a
membership, members have access to            Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT to fill
cars anywhere between 20 and 30 days          the sports sedan niche. “We looked at
per year. For the additional bump to Black-   the Audi S8, which is just an exquisitely
level membership, members get to drive        engineered car,” he says. “But we found
between 45 and 60 days a year, and also       that a lot of our members already either
have the added benefit of allowing access     owned one, or owned an S8 competitor.”
for a spouse and one additional named co-     Caron chose the Maserati because it was
member. Insurance, storage, maintenance       the sports sedan that his members most
and taxes are included in either annual       wanted to drive, but didn’t necessarily
membership fee, and mileage accumu-           want to own.
lated over the course of use isn’t charged.      Because The Otto Club deals in mod-
  Caron notes that his members simply         ern exotics, Caron now has a lot of expe-
haven’t asked to have access to vintage       rience dealing with high-end car dealers
cars, and they seem to be content with        and manufacturer representatives. While
the ultimate in modern supercars. The         the Lamborghini Gallardo is “incredibly
Otto Club’s members definitely have           sensitive,” and has had its share of nig-
their priorities. Caron laughs when he        gling problems (including a side airbag
says that he’s rarely seen the stunningly     sensor that’s been replaced three times),
gorgeous $155,000 F355 F1 Spider leave        Caron notes that Lamborghini has been

                                                                           FEBRUARY 2007
                                                                                                                 • HEMMINGS SPORTS & EXOTIC CAR
     incredibly responsive to his club’s unique            says. “All we really ask is that the mem-        SourceS:
     requirement to have the car up and run-               bers tell us about it as soon as possible.”
     ning as often as possible. Aston Martin,                And unlike an exotic car rental, where         Classic Car Club Manhattan
     he says, has not been as responsive, and              you simply toss the keys over your shoul-        250 Hudson Street
     if it wasn’t for the upcoming V-8 Vantage             der and never see the proprietor again,          New York, New York 10013
     roadster, he might not choose to contin-              the club atmosphere means that you’re            212-229-2402
     ue supplying the Aston to his members.                going to be in close proximity to the  
        The question I asked both the Classic              people who own the cars, and those who
     Car Club and The Otto Club was how                    will suffer the consequences of a car            the otto Club
     often the cars come back damaged.                     that’s been temporarily disabled by an           888-oTTo-cLuB
     “We’ve run three separate checks on all               abusive driver.                        
     of our members,” says The Otto Club’s                   At the end of the day, it’s all about
     Caron. “We run a criminal background                  driving some of the coolest cars on the
     check, a credit check and we obtain a                 planet. Caron put me behind the wheel
     driving record from the state. If some-               of the yellow Gallardo, and while it’s not
     one’s a problem at that point, we simply              something that I’d ever want to own,
     won’t offer them a membership.”                       there’s a palpable thrill to spending even
        But accidents happen, and for the most             a few minutes alone behind the wheel.
     part, it’s been manageable and expected.                I spent 15 miles on I-495, and in those
     “We had our first three issues in one                 few short minutes, a fellow highway trav-
     day,” says Caron, adding, “At least one               eler was taking pictures of me—well, the
     of the wheels on all of these cars has                car, I guess, unless he had some fetish for
     been curb-rashed.” He also pointed out                bald editors—as he drove by.
     a cracked lower fascia on the $175,000                  How do you put a price on 15 miles of
     Ferrari 360 F1 Modena. “It happens,” he               fame?

     Alternatives to the Club Scene
     Both Mike Prichinello of Classic Car Club             either a 1/10th or a 1/5th share in one of       exotic Car rentals
     and John Caron of The Otto Club con-                  the world’s greatest exotics, percentages        New York City, Los Angeles, and especially
     sider the camaraderie of hanging out with             that allow between four and eight weeks          Las Vegas have a plethora of companies
     other members an added benefit of their               of driving time per year. You own that           that will put you in an exotic car for a
     clubs, but if you’re a hermit, or meeting             slice of a Ferrari 360 Spider, without the       special weekend. A 24-hour rental of a
     new people just isn’t your bag, there are             hassle of service, tires, storage or insurance   Lamborghini Gallardo in Las Vegas runs
     other ways to get behind the wheel of an              coverage.                                        about $1,600.
     exotic without the massive cash draw of a                Curvy Road (a subsidiary of Exotic Car          The plus here is that you’ve got access to
     purchase or a lease. Like everything else,            Share, which has a club similar to Classic       some pretty cool stuff when you’re travel-
     they’ve got their ups and downs.                      Car Club and The Otto Club) offers two           ing. A special weekend on the Strip would
                                                           plans. The Flex Plan is a one- or two-year       be that much more memorable at 120
     exotic Car Fractionals                                program that you walk away from at the           miles an hour.
     Unless you’re in the thing on a daily basis,          end, just like a lease. In Curvy Road’s Equity     The downsides are many. First, you’re
     a private jet has to be the world’s silliest          Plan, owners get a full 1/5th of the actual      driving something that nine hundred other
     purchase. It sits on the runway depreciat-            selling price of the vehicle when it’s sold      people have driven before, so the condition
     ing every minute you’re hard at work in               after two years.                                 probably isn’t going to be tops. Second,
     the office. Companies like NetJet figured                The downside is that there’s a pretty         the $1,600 daily rate only gets you 100
     out that if you only had to buy the “jet-             good chance that the other four or nine          free miles. If you’re stuck in traffic on the
     time” you needed, you could save a lot                schlubs you share the car with are going         Strip for hours, that’s not bad, but if you’re
     of money and enjoy the knowledge that                 to want the car the same week you do.            actually running the car at speed, you’ll eat
     you’d never have to sit next to a chatty life         You are allowed two preferred advance            up 100 miles just getting out of Greater Las
     insurance salesman in coach. You buy the              reservation weeks every year, but the rest       Vegas. Mileage charges are an exorbitant
     time you’re going to use, and NetJet takes            of your weeks are assigned by Curvy Road.        $1.95, and heaven help you if you crash the
     care of the rest.                                     Holiday weeks are assigned on a lottery          car. Many rental contracts require not only
       Now, several companies have taken this              basis, so you’ve got a one in five or one in     that you pay for damage, but also for the
     approach and applied to it to the exotic car          10 chance of showing off to your in-laws         time the car was out of service. At $1,600 a
     market. Fractional ownership allows you               over Christmas.                                  day, that can add up pretty quickly.

                                  • FEBRUARY 2007

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