For the owners of rare and covetable foreign whips looking to play, there aren't many better seaside sandboxes on Earth than Miami. Automotive culture goes hand in hand with the extravagant character of Florida's southernmost metropolis, so it's not uncommon to see plenty of imports throttling along the city's main arteries. We know even Biebs couldn't resist pinning it in a drag race during his visit to the Magic City.
The country's biggest Lamborghini dealer, Brett David - a man who has sold over $1 billion in supercars, (his very first sale happened to be to none other than Missy Elliot) - opens up about his business experience and Miami auto culture below.
So, what about Miami caters to auto culture?
Miami has always been known for it’s jet set lifestyle, and it represents an intersection between the high-end exotic and luxury automobile market. It continues to be that international playground that caters to very diversified cultures, and now, the automotive industry is coming out with an explosion of some of the craziest super cars like we’ve never seen before.
It’s also that city where you will turn up at a stoplight and you will find a matching Lamborghini or matching Ferrari or Porsche next to you, so now everybody wants that bespoke experience. Miami has become an automotive-crazed city with amazing events and great car shows and a great dealer network. The Sharpie Lamborghini that we created in 2007 served many purposes and was also a first for many different reasons. After the passing of my father, we needed to show a unique young way to approach the demographic and let everybody know that Prestige Imports wasn’t going anywhere. Lamborghini Miami was the first to wrap a vehicle, first to draw on a vehicle and the first to be able to tell this story on social media. Miami became known for the city with the iconic Sharpie Lamborghini.
What about the Lamborghini brand is so important to you?
For myself and my family, the Lamborghini brand signifies so much more than just the cars themselves. We have been a Lamborghini dealer since 1985, so I have been exposed to the brand my entire life. When I think of Lamborghini, I think of my father. I think of being a child and always having these amazing cars at home in our driveway. I remember feeling so lucky as a kid, when going to work with my Dad meant going where there seemed to be an endless supply of the exact cars that made my friends go crazy if they just saw one on the street. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to finally drive a Lamborghini instead of always being a passenger. My memories of my father and Lamborghini go hand in hand, from going to races with him around the world to participating in the Running of the Bulls up the Pacific Coast Highway in California, to our many visits to the Lamborghini factory in Bologna, Italy.
What are your favorite cars personally?
My ultimate dream car is Eleanor from Gone In 60 Seconds, a 1967 Shelby GT 500 Fast Back. Raw American power. That vehicle just sets off everything that exotic car buffs love today. The hard lines and the cutting edge design of that vehicle actually resemble today's Aventador.
Of course, being a Lamborghini and Pagani dealer, my heart will always stay with the passion that I was bred. The Lamborghini Aventador has to be one the most aggressive uncompromising vehicles on the market; no other manufacturer can compare with the design. I have an additional soft spot for the Pagani Huayra. Today, having the opportunity to meet a gentleman and living legend like Horacio Pagani is such an honor. This man will be a legend just like Enzo Ferrari and Ferrucio Lamborghini. We spent countless hours with Horacio himself, while he designed many of our customers cars along with the Project Vulcan, which was given to us in memory of my father. Pagani sets themselves apart from most other car manufacturers as a pure bespoke retailer. As the ultimate automotive enthusiasts, they create pieces of art; art that follows form and function.
But my everyday driving vehicle has still and will always be the Mercedes-Benz G63. I love the iconic style and design that the Geländewagen originated 20-30 years prior, and when they had the opportunity to come to the states in 2002. I’ve always been in love with that model, so that’s definitely a daily driver.
Discuss about word-of-mouth influence and how it affects your brand and others
Word of mouth influence is the oldest source of advertising. As the anecdote goes, someone that has an amazing experience will walk out of any business and tell one or two people, but if they have a terrible experience they will walk out and tell 10, 15 or 20. Every business is going to have its bad days. If the business that day is short staffed or a client that day is not properly attended to, as long as the individual learns from the mistakes they will grow. People have to realize we are human and we will make mistakes, but communication for those things is very important.
A good reputation is key. You always want to make sure that people who are around you are talking positively and it’s not just about what they see on the web or what they hear about from friends. It’s about the interaction, one-on- one, face to face with that person who hears the good or bad about you is able to be in front of you and you’re able to change their impression of your brand, your business or yourself.
Talk us through any collectibles you’ve acquired over the years, what do you like about collecting?
Over the last nine years, my sister and I have been able to collect some pretty amazing cars, some that I personally love and a majority of which have some sort of personal connection to my father. We have a 1971 280 SL which was his first new Mercedes when he got into the car business and was able to actually afford one, today it only has 31,000 miles.
I grew up with a 1989 Lamborghini Countach, the last one ever made that was pearl white on white. My father sold that Countach during the .com recession in 2000 for a record auction sale price and I think that was one of the things he regretted most. Recently, we had an opportunity to purchase a 1989 Countach that was six VIN numbers off of his personal car, with 1,000 miles thats pearl white on red, and the car is absolutely stunning. Reminds me of the smile he had when we would look at the car in the garage.
We also have a 2009 Mercedes SLR McLaren convertible, brand new on MSO with only 300 miles, a 1968 Volkswagen Hippie Bus, 21 windows, cut and slammed into a pick-up truck with hydraulic suspension and an old school Porsche motor and transmission. My father and I built that when I was younger and I’ll never get rid of that car.
Another special vehicle that I will never sell is a Lotus Exige that was the first car I learned to drive with, and took to the track and had the opportunity to play with my father in a race suit.
And of course, the Pagani Huayra Project Vulcan, which is a Pagani Huayra that we will never sell and will keep as part of the family for years to come. Project Vulcan was given to my family as a gift from Horacio Pagani in memory of my father. The car has a full dedication plate and Pagani Factory teams’ signatures within the car.
Talk about the murals you have in your home.
The murals in my home were painted by local artist Jona Cerwinske. My father originally fell in love with Jona’s unique style after visiting Lenny Kravitz and seeing his hand painted classic Cadillac in his garage. I remember my father wanting Jona to do a painting or mural for our home, so shortly after his passing, I contacted Jona to paint a collage commemorating his life. It started on the front door and spread to the pool table and columns and ending with the walls of the media room. There are over 30 hidden images referencing his life story that I have found over time. Jona was later commissioned to paint the Sharpie Lamborghini, which became the most photographed vehicle around the world, thanks to social media.
What fashion brands are you most fond of?
Fashion is very important to me as I feel it is an expression of who you are even before opening your mouth. While at the office I prefer being overdressed as opposed to being under dressed, with slim tapered suits and fitted suits. One of my biggest pet peeves is a shirt without collar stays, so for me, shirts that have are a must. Outside of work, I’m very comfortable with a more youthful look, sporting a nice pair of Chuck Taylor’s and skinny jeans with an American Apparel V-neck. Simplicity to me is always key and I believe that your character ultimately defines who you are. But whether it’s business or casual, I find the watch you wear is what undeniably makes the statement. My favorite brands include Audemars Piquet and Ulysse Nardin.
Talk about any important turning points in your career, or particular moments of success.
At the age of 19, the sudden passing of my father was major turning point. Today I'm able to continue his vision and passion in the automotive field. From opening stores to selling others stores, to going through some of the craziest points in the economy and, of course, the large financial crash. We’ve also had many positive turning points – like establishing our Audi dealership to be the number one volume Audi store in the country and one of the only dealers to deliver over 2,000 cars for five years in a row. We were also the largest Audi dealership in the world for five years running. We’ve continuously been able to maintain our number one Lamborghini status for new and used vehicles. One of my father’s biggest dreams became a reality when we acquired the Pagani franchise.
Finally, what are the most important things to remember when starting a business?
The biggest challenge is surrounding yourself with trustworthy and knowledgeable people who share your vision. I must admit that is easier said than done. It took me several years, and I’m still learning every day. I’ve come to realize that mistakes are inevitable, however, they have been my greatest tool.