Ferrari Mystique on 394
You don’t choose a Ferrari; Ferrari chooses you.
And if you want to own one, you’re going to need more than a trunk full of money. With models starting around $250,000 and quickly climbing into the millions, wealth is presumed, and discretion is paramount. Fame won’t get you preferential treatment, nor will a CEO title. Loyalty is the key currency.
“It’s a process,” says Chase Hawkins, president and CEO of the Pohlad-owned Carousel Motor Group, which opened Minnesota’s first and only Ferrari dealership, called Twin Cities Performance, in July. The showroom on I-394 in Golden Valley is one of just 40 nationwide; the nearest ones east and west are in Chicago and Denver.
Carousel’s portfolio includes seven other Twin Cities dealerships including Audi and Porsche on both sides of the river and BMW of Minnetonka. The group had been pursuing Ferrari for a few years. “The economics of this market definitely support a Ferrari price point,” Hawkins says. “Once [the Ferrari brand] understood the number of Fortune 500s, sports teams, and high-net-worth individuals here, it was very easy.”
Of course, the demographics that look promising on paper haven’t always panned out for luxury brands in Minneapolis, a town with the distinction of having lost a trifecta of high-end department stores (Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s).
Cars are different, says Hawkins, whose automotive career has allowed him to observe the way the über-wealthy buy in markets around the world. “In Chicago, they make a quick call on what they want and don’t always get it right. Here, they take their time making a decision.”
“We just can’t give you a timeline on whether you’ll receive a car, or when.”
—Chase Hawkins, CEO, Carousel Motor Group
And that’s the approach one must bring to Twin Cities Performance. There are just two shiny sports cars on the spacious showroom floor, and no, you can’t take them for a test drive. Every Ferrari is made to order—down to the stitching. Hawkins gestures around a private meeting room just off the showroom floor where the serious buyers go to select their leather and chrome. “Ferrari even allows you to incorporate your own materials if there’s something special to you—with the company’s approval, of course,” he says. “Every vehicle Ferrari builds becomes part of its history.”
The Ferrari Club of America’s Minnesota chapter, while smaller than Wisconsin’s, has 80 active members. Club president Steve Hark estimates that more than 200 Ferraris are parked in garages around the state since most members own more than one. That includes a few of the rarest models in existence, he says, valued at upwards of $50 million. “We’re lucky to have them here,” says Hark, CEO of Entourage Events Group, which owns or manages several local venues including the Fine Line and the Armory.
The only way to get to the rare models is to prove you’re able to maintain a more “entry-level” Ferrari, which, Hawkins acknowledges, creates a Catch-22 for those who want in on this exclusive club. “We would never say you don’t qualify,” Hawkins explains. “We say we’re happy to work with you and this is how the process goes: We can place your order … we just can’t give you a timeline on whether you’ll receive a car, or when.”
Hawkins advises newbies to start with a used Ferrari, which Twin Cities Performance also sells. But for most buyers, the allure is in creating a car all your own. Orders are currently averaging between one and three years to fill, Hawkins says.
Meanwhile, those 200 Ferraris in local garages keep the Twin Cities Performance service department busy. Even an annual maintenance check starts at nearly $1,000. Before the local shop opened, Ferrari owners shipped their cars to Chicago for service (a trailer sent by one of the two Chicago Ferrari dealerships had been making weekly trips to the Twin Cities). Service appointments at Twin Cities Performance were booked out two months in advance over the summer.
Hark hopes the relative ease of local maintenance will inspire owners to drive their cars more. Because Ferraris tend to increase in value over time, “Ferrari owners are not really known to drive their cars much. We’re trying to change that mentality, putting together events where people can enjoy their cars more.”
And perhaps an increased cohort of the sleek Italian machines speeding around Lake Minnetonka will pave the way for other luxury car brands in this market. “We don’t have McLaren, Lamborghini, or Rolls-Royce here,” Hawkins says. “I think there’s room. It’s limited, but there’s probably an opportunity.”