If you are reading this and we have never met I feel the need to preface this article. I am a nice person. I am a mama's boy. I believe in giving back to the community and I believe in genuine human kindness. If you are a car guy and don't know me what I am about to tell you may fill you with a jealous rage. You might instantly not like me. I need to say one more thing. I am humble and I do not take my life for granted. Oh, ONE last thing: I currently have a Lamborghini LP 560 Spyder and a brand new MINI Cooper S model sitting in my drive way right now. Don't get too upset, neither whip is mine as I drive a 2011 GMC Terrain.
As the Variable Operations Manager of the Morgan Auto Group I do live a kind of charmed life. When I first entered the business in 2005 I was not a car guy. I was more less a student of our business, of people and customer service. My focus was on providing a better transactional quality inside of our business not necessarily what was going on under the hood.
Over time I have become a car guy and it had me wondering this weekend --- What Changed? Was it hours upon hours of Top Gear viewing on BBC America? Was it countless deals worked with my friend and colleague Matt Duke who is a legitimate car nerd and enthusiast? Was it simply learning that business and sales were more fun when you have drank the proverbial "car-guy" kool-aid? Was it inheriting a '62 Chevy II from my Grandfather? No. It was simply getting behind the wheel of something exceptional and letting it provide me with what it was built to do.
I've always needed a push in life. While my interests are many I can be far from daring. My father has offered to let me drive his Lamborghini Gallardo a combination of 52 times over the past year. The culmination of my Lambo experience is a single ride on Christmas day while under the watchful eye of 4 Clearwater Beach Police squad cars. My top speed was 28 MPH. My Dad would not have a Lamborghini if it wasn't for our ownership of Lamborghini Sarasota and partnership with businessman Victor Young. In many ways our entry into the car business was a surprise and our entrance into the Supercar business a bigger one.
This was all until this weekend when my friend, car-guy and car enthusiast, Matt Duke joined me for the Tampa Bay Blues Festival. We borrowed the Lamborghini. We drove the Lamborghini. We experienced the full bliss of popping both paddle shifters into neutral and revving the V10 for a large downtown crowd. We felt the cars power out onto interstate on ramps and the raw speed burning from a dead stop. We hit the valet at the Vinoy near downtown St. Petersburg and watched families stop to take pictures with the car. Is it possible that one car could bring so much joy to so many people? The answer is yes. The answer is also that a vehicle a fraction of the cost can provide a very similar experience.
On Sunday after a night of a cool Florida breeze and crunchy blues riffs we loaded up and headed to our newest dealership addition MINI of Wesley Chapel. It is only Tampa's 2nd only MINI store and one of only two in the country that shares a unique new MINI dealership design and image. We were having a big conquest test drive event that including stocking a new VW Beetle and a Nissan Juke. Matt and I were there in case the store was overrun with guests. We were. It was a fantastic event. And just to top it all off I decided to drive home a new MINI Cooper S just to see what I thought.
In quick summation 181 horsepower has never felt more like 245 horsepower. The cock pit is surprisingly roomy and non-claustrophobic. Being an anglophile myself I am very much in tune with the premise of MINI as a brand and as a marketer. As a driver I am very much impressed with the MPG but also the drivability of MINI. MINI is flat out fun to drive. Today while conducting business with my father he asked me to drive in my MINI and yes that was him smiling as he exited his BMW X6. Tonight I had a choice of what to take for a quick evening the drive --- the Gallardo or the MINI. I took the MINI. Remember us car guys like to have fun too.
For more information:
MINI of Wesley Chapel
MINI of Wesley Chapel's Facebook Page