“Launch” is not a gear available on most automotive transmissions, but found in the changing carscape of Greenwich is a Ferrari model that offers drivers three choices: Auto, R (presumably for reverse) and Launch. I would be dangerous in a car with a gear suitable for NASA rockets.
Our launch vehicle, however, is not the most expensive car navigating the twisting, turning roads of Greenwich and other parts of Fairfield County. That honor goes to another Italian automaker, Pagani, whose Huayra model sells for more than 1 million euros and tops the town tax roll valued at $980,000.
In 2007, 11 of the 20 most expensive cars registered in Greenwich were Ferraris; by 2014 that list had diversified considerably, to include such brands as Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Maserati, Rolls-Royce, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes and Pagani.
Other fortunes on four wheels found in Greenwich include a Ferrari Enzo valued at $937,700; a Porsche at $434,700; a Mercedes Benz 300SL at $324,800 and a Lamborghini Aventado at a mere $278,250. These are not price tags, mind you, they are tax assessments, and we all know what happens to the value of a car when it leaves the dealer’s lot. People are paying a lot of money to populate their five-plus-car garages. In all, there are 15 cars listed at $200,000 or more and 140 that break the $100,000 mark. This list includes 51 Ferraris, 32 Bentleys, 31 Mercedes, five McLarens and five Rolls-Royces. And this list does not include cars in collections that are not registered for the open road.
But let’s get back to that Pagani. What does one get for a million euros? Check out the rear-view mirrors poised like aliens hovering over the fenders. This machine claims a top speed of 235 mph, plenty of muscle to get your kids to school on time when they’ve missed the bus. The interior finish is worthy of cover treatment in Architectural Digest, and the dashboard array and controls have more in common with a Gulfstream jet than with a Ford or Chevy.
Just as these cars have little in common with the rides most of us drive, the shopping experience is completely different also. Ground zero for these high-performance cars is Miller Motorcars on the Post Road in Greenwich, which also owns Maserati of Westport; the high comfort/high luxury end of the market, such as Rolls-Royces, are found at Miller Motorcars, as well as the appropriately named Carriage House Motor Cars on Railroad Avenue. If someone were to tell me that my retirement home was a Rolls-Royce Phantom, I would be completely fine with that, provided it came with a luxurious blanket and pillows.
The Miller Motorcars showroom is like an Apple store for uber-wealthy car enthusiasts. Everything works to bring out the elegance of the automotive design and the thrill of promised speed. Even the white leather couches in the customer lounge (no waiting room here) have subtle embossed Ferrari and Maserati logos. The floors are so highly polished they reflect the cars colors. Two engines sit posed on pedestals, like sculptures in a museum. Then there is what I call the leather room. I don’t know what the dealer calls it, but behind a reveal wall in the back of the showroom, you come face to face with dozens of beautiful Italian leather swatches, fanciful steering wheels, performance wheel rims and four different seats to test for comfort and performance enhancement. A white table and two chairs are the only pieces of furniture in the leather room. You sit with your interior decorator cum car salesman and see just what leather colors suit your style.
I came away from my 15 minutes in the Ferrari/Pagani/Maserati world with a desperate desire to buy one, but lacking a spare million dollars, it was not to be. Then I saw two displays that highlighted Ferrari-ana and some Maserati accessories: watches, umbrellas, ties, silver picture frames, a stainless steel to-go cup and a similar license plate frame. Nothing really sparked my interest, but then I saw a three-inch-long model red Ferrari with a racing decal. Aha. That will be mine. The price was $575. I wonder what that would be on a monthly lease?
Bob Horton is a columnist for the Greenwich Time and a regular contributor to this magazine.