““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
Drive Your Dream Car
You don't have to buy or lease a Lamborghini to get behind the wheel. Just arrange a rental.
So you’re having a Justin Bieber moment and want to street race a Lamborghini in Miami. Or you’ve always imagined yourself driving a red Ferrari through Milan, Italy. Exotic-car rental companies are making a comeback as the global economy recovers, providing increased opportunities to drive those dream vehicles that haven’t made it into your stable yet. Follow these tips to assure a first-rate exotic-car rental experience:
1. Know where to rent.
With customers willing to pay daily fees ranging from $1,000 to $2,500, renting out exotic cars can be a lucrative business. Since most start-ups lack the credit to buy or lease multiple ultra-expensive autos, many are brokers that don’t actually own the vehicles they rent. Some temporarily “lease” a car from one client to rent to another client. These deals may be illegal and almost always negate the owner’s insurance.
When possible, rent from national chains such as Enterprise’s Exotic Car Collection (exoticcars.enterprise.com) or Hertz’s Dream Cars (hertzdreamcars.com). These companies own and register the vehicles they rent, and both continue to expand their offerings.
Hertz recently added the Tesla Model S to its 19-model Dream Cars collection, which is available in 35 U.S. markets. Enterprise Rent-A-Car (enterprise.com) offers more than 50 models of luxury and exotic cars at 17 locations. Go Rentals (gorentals.com), another U.S. chain, owns a fleet of luxury vehicles, including Audis, Porsches and various SUVs, and will reach out to suppliers to fulfill exotic-car requests.
Auto Europe (autoeurope.com) rents a wide variety of exotic vehicles in six European countries and the UAE. Switzerland-based King Rent Exclusive Services (kingrent.com) stocks exotics ranging from the Maserati GranCabrio (MSRP $142,800) to the Bugatti Veyron (MSRP $2.5 million)in cities across Europe. (Fees for a one-day rental of the Bugatti start at 14,000 euros, or about $19,000.)
The best cities on that continent for renting exotic cars are Munich, Milan and Nice, according to Matthew Allright, senior reservations manager at King Rent. “These are the three [cities] where you can get almost any car and at the best rates,” he says.
In the U.S., you can rent exotic cars in nearly every major city. One way to ensure reliable service is to rent through your FBO. Go Rentals, for example, has offices at 17 U.S. airports.
2. Understand the process.
Most exotic-car rental companies require customers to be at least 25 years old; in addition to a valid driver’s license, you’ll generally need evidence of auto insurance and a credit card. After you pass a criminal background check, they preauthorize a security deposit on your credit card ranging from about $1,000 (for a standard luxury vehicle) to $30,000 (for an exotic like a Bugatti Veyron or Lamborghini Aventador). The entire rental amount may also be charged when the rental period begins.
Some companies check your personal vehicle insurance coverage limits before the rental. As a customer-service representative from Enterprise Exotic Car Collection says, “If your insurance is limited to a $60,000 vehicle, you’re not going to drive off the lot with a $100,000 Porsche 911 Carrera.”
Most exotic-car rental companies will deliver vehicles to points within a certain radius of their main hubs, although some charge an additional fee for this. The authorized renter and all authorized drivers must be present when the auto arrives. Third parties such as personal assistants are usually not allowed to pick up or sign for the car.
You can rent exotics by the hour or the day. Companies typically impose surcharges if daily usage exceeds 70 to 100 miles.
3. Ask about insurance.
While exotic-car rental companies insure their vehicles against theft, most cannot or do not insure against damage. “Just the wing mirror on a Lamborghini costs $1,000,” Allright says, “and if we submitted a claim every time someone scratched a wing mirror, the premium would go sky high.” The renter is almost always responsible for any damage. If the repair cost exceeds your security deposit, the company will bill you or your vehicle insurer.
Don’t rely on a credit card’s collision-damage-waiver benefit when renting exotics. Both American Express and Visa exclude rentals of exotic and antique automobiles, and MasterCard excludes rentals of vehicles valued at more than $50,000. However, some AmEx cardholders can purchase Premium Car Rental Protection directly from American Express.
4. Know how to drive the vehicle.
Most exotic cars are built for performance, and some require special driving skills for ultimate enjoyment. Gotham Dream Cars (gothamdreamcars.com) provides multi-hour Dream Car Sprint experiences in Ferraris and Lamborghinis, allowing drivers to gain cornering skills on closed autocross courses. Gotham’s Dream Car Tour package offers open-road driving time in Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, Bentleys and other exotics.
Kim Rosenlof interviewed race-car driver Jamie McMurray for BJT’s February/March edition.