Sarasota seeing luxury car sales in high gear

Sarasota, Florida -- Lamborghini, Maserati, Jaguar, Mercedes. There's a Bay area county where these luxury cars are seen more and more on the road each day. Sure these cars are a sign of individual wealth, but these fancy wheels are also a sign of a revving economy.

Louis Klinger stepped into Wilde Maserati's car lot looking for a shiny red sports car -- just "looking".

"I fell in love with it and left with it," says Klinger.

The 62-year-old is an admitted "car guy."

"This is the Jaguar F series. It handles unbelievably, looks great, sounds great," he says.

Louis confesses this is an emotional purchase.

"A car is an extension of yourself. You want something you feel good in and handles well," he explains.

And just how does this $105,000 car make him feel?

"A little bit younger," he admits.

Louis' Jaguar is one of about 20 sold each month at Wilde along with 10 Maseratis -- totaling only about a couple of million dollars in sales.

Wilde's sales manager Stephan Kacprzyk says business is good really good.

"Maserati sales for us is close to 400% -- it's a tremendous amount. Jaguar is on the verge of 200% mark," says Kacprzyk.

We take a ride in a Maserati GTC.

"It's a very old-school Ferrari sound," he explains. "The Maserati is very sophisticated and has a sportiness to it."

And Kacprzyk says as far as their customer service -- it's top-rated.

"A sense of pride. It's the way you look at your life, you've accomplished things others don't. Why drive what they drive? Sometimes it's about bragging rights, sometimes it's the quality of the vehicle," he explains.

Along Clark Road other luxury car dealers, such as Mercedes, are seeing a spike in sales. Land Rover has a nine-month waiting list. Lamborghini, a half a million-dollar vehicle made to order, is seeing a market here too. Car salesmen say the better they do is a sign the economy is doing better too.

"A lot has to do with real estate market. They're not as nervous anymore with their money," says Kacprzyk.

According to the Sarasota Association of Realtors, home sales surged 33% in March from February and property sales passed the 1,000 mark for the first time since last May.

"The weather is beautiful, the housing market is perfect, it's a perfect fit for Maserati and its luxury cars," Kacprzyk says.

But with sticker prices like this of $135,000, most car buyers are left just wishing for one. Maserati has come out with a line of cars at a fraction of the price. like the Ghibli for $65,000.

Jaguar is also coming out with a lower priced model near $40,000. Other car makers are adding "entry level" cars too. Mercedes has the Mercedes CLA priced even lower at $30,000.

"It opens the door for more clients to afford premium luxury cars. They get what they want and it fits their budget," says Kacprzyk.

Car collector Ralph McLaughlin owns 10 luxury vehicles, some are one of a kind. McLaughlin owns a Cobra, a '65 Corvette and a McLaren that has broken the Nuremberg 7-minute record.

"This car is 1 of 10. It's number 9 and costs $800,000," he says.

The SL 65K Mercedes looks fancy, but it's so fast it doubles as a Dragster. Add an Aston Martin Vantage, a customized Ferrari and what's a collection without a Lamborghini.

"When beauty meets speed meets passion," that is McLaughlin's motto.

"It just puts it all together," he says.

Seeing more luxury vehicles cruising Sarasota roads has given this collector and retired software CEO a new business idea.

"What I see today is a need for a high-end storage facility -- world class," he says.

Unless you're like Klinger who likes taking his Jaguar for a spin every day.

"I've worked hard all my life. I deserve it," he says.


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