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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

Fast Movers: Exotic Cars Speeding Out Of Wynn Showroom

10 May 2005

Some of the richest merchandise in Las Vegas has changed hands in recent days at the Ferrari and Maserati showroom at Wynn Las Vegas, which beckons passers-by with luxury cars displayed like fine art.

Believed to be the first dealership in a casino, the Ferrari-Maserati showroom -- which opened at the resort April 28 -- has already sold 21 of the Italian-made cars. That's the kind of business exotic car stores typically generate over a few months, dealership General Manager George Chapes said.

"Those numbers in themselves are absolutely staggering," Chapes said. "We own two other Ferrari stores and in the last five days we've sold what those dealerships do in three to four months."

At this rate, Chapes said he could probably sell 100 of the cars each year. In reality, he said the store will probably sell closer to 40 or 50 cars because it would be difficult for the dealership to get more cars from Ferrari, which manufactures a limited number of the coveted vehicles.

"I'll sell every new car they give me," Chapes said.

The sales didn't all come on opening weekend when an estimated 10,000 people traipsed through the property in a matter of hours. Instead, sales have been steady, averaging about four cars per day, Chapes said.

The store is co-owned by Wynn and United Auto Group, one of the country's largest car dealership chains.

The dealership and service center is one of more than 32 Ferrari dealerships in the country and one of more than 45 Maserati stores. Many of those locations sell both brands, which are owned by Ferrari SpA of Italy.

The store has become a major attraction, with some 1,800 people per day breezing through the showroom to gawk at high-end cars including casino boss Steve Wynn's $1.4 million Enzo Ferrari, which is not for sale. Instead of shelling out the average sticker price of $120,000 to $200,000 for a vehicle, most will window-shop or buy something in the Ferrari retail store.

"This is a lot more people than we expected," Chapes said of the crowd. "We're not comfortable with that many people around the merchandise so we limit the showroom floor to 30 to 35 guests at a time. At that rate a line forms every day and there's about a 15-minute wait."

"A lot of these cars are extremely rare and some people have never been so close to a Ferrari in their lives," he said.

Not to be outdone, the Forum Shops mall at Caesars Palace today opens an exotic car dealership in one of the mall's highest-traffic areas.

The dealership will feature a variety of makes including Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Lotus. An upper floor will feature custom motorcycles.

Like Wynn's showroom, Exotic Cars at Caesars Palace will be laid out in museum fashion. It will feature touch screens with information on each car for sale as well as a remote control racetrack and VIP customer lounge with a humidor and plasma screen televisions.

Owner Richard Weisman said he expects to sell some 40 to 50 cars and about 10 to 20 motorcycles per month -- about as many vehicles that will be available in the showroom at any one time.

"We will constantly have cars moving in and out," though some cars will be specially ordered for customers, he said.

Weisman, who formerly ran a luxury car showroom in Florida, said he had an idea to open a showroom in a Las Vegas casino about five years ago and began approaching properties about three years ago.

The 34,000-square-foot showroom is the largest tenant in the Forum Shops, the country's most successful mall measured in sales per square foot. The corridor outside averages more than 20,000 visitors per day and Weisman expects traffic of up to 10,000 people per day in his store.

Weisman said he's not surprised by the early success of Wynn's showroom.

Typical dealerships "are in the need business. We're in the want business. People who want these types of cars tend to want what they want," he said.

Landlord Caesars Palace is a marketing partner in the showroom and expects to use the dealership to help attract casino customers, he said.

"Our customers are their customers," he said. "This is a national business, not a local business. If I have a Lamborghini Murcielago roadster and there might only be two for sale in the country, (customers) go wherever that car is."

Chapes said his customers "come from all over the country" as well as Las Vegas. Some are impulse buyers in addition to car buffs, he said.

"They're relaxing, they're on vacation, they come here and they put their guard down," he said. "They know they're going to spend a lot of money and they say, 'Why not?' "

According to a Ferrari sales agreement, Ferrari dealers can sell new cars only to residents of that state rather than other states with Ferrari dealerships. That means the Wynn store can only sell new vehicles to Nevada residents or residents in states like Montana and Wisconsin that don't have Ferrari stores. There's no such restriction on used cars.

The store -- Nevada's first Ferrari and Maserati dealer -- also will benefit an estimated 220 registered Ferrari owners in Nevada who now ship their cars to places such as Beverly Hills, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Salt Lake City for service.