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Michael Willhoit, owner of Willhoit Enterprises, says businesses picks up around Christmas. Willhoit has worked with more men looking to buy cars for their wives this season.
Michael Willhoit, owner of Willhoit Enterprises, says businesses picks up around Christmas. Willhoit has worked with more men looking to buy cars for their wives this season.

Cars put enthusiasts in the driver's seat

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For the person who is dreaming of a shiny, red Ferrari more than a white Christmas, it’s time to start dropping hints to someone who’s ready to drop plenty of cash on a gift.

Car enthusiasts and collectors could be on the receiving end or giving end of some high-end gifts this holiday season, and area dealerships are ready to deliver.

“Business is pretty good around Christmas time,” said Michael Willhoit, owner of Willhoit Enterprises, a Springfield company that has been selling high-end, exotic and classic cars for 34 years. “There’s always some interesting people that give cars as gifts.”

For car enthusiasts, hunting down that dream automobile might be the perfect gift, though it’s not exactly the type that’s given every day.

“If somebody wanted to get me a car, I would certainly be open to it,” said Guy Mace, car collector and president/owner of Turblex. “I would have had to have done a very large favor for someone.”

And Mace knows exactly which cars he’d like to get for Christmas: A 1931 Duesenberg with a dual-cowl phaeton or a 1936 Mercedes Benz.

“Only problem is the 1936 Mercedes Benz is going for about $5 million now and the Duesenberg goes for about $1 million,” added Mace. “The problem with collectors is they never want to give anything away.”

Mace has a couple dozen cars that he has collected, but his favorites are sports cars.

“Some guys have what they call trailer queens, which means you never drive them – you just take them to shows,” he said. “Those are the guys that like to go to shows and display pristine cars. Then there are the guys like myself that drive their cars.”

The hottest ride on the market right now is the 2006 Ferrari F430 Spider, according to MotorCars International General Manager Randy Mattison.

“Those command all the attention,” he said. “I think the Ferrari would be a good gift for both men and women. It’s not a masculine thing. It’s more about exotic. You pull up and it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.”

The Spider is fetching about $100,000 more than the sticker price right now, Mattison said, noting that MotorCars International sold one in November for $335,000 to a customer in Atlanta. Sticker price, he added, was about $230,000.

Mattison said the dealership usually sees some last-minute shoppers in mid-December who want a car as fast as possible for a gift.

“We’ve actually had the truck hide around the corner and pull up and unload the vehicle as a surprise,” said Mattison, who noted that much of the dealership’s business is done online.

“Nobody comes here. They wire the money into our account and they wait for their package,” he added.

Willhoit said much of his business is done online or via the telephone, primarily to out-of-state customers. Some of his clients, he said, do buy cars as Christmas gifts, but like Mattison, he doesn’t expect to hear from any of them until mid-December.

While Mattison said he generally sees women buying cars for their husbands, Willhoit said he has worked with more men looking to buy cars for their wives. For a wife’s gift, Willhoit recommends a Porsche Cabriolet Convertible; for a husband, his pick is a Twin Turbo Porsche.

Car-collector Mace will continue dreaming about his Duesenberg or Mercedes, but he thinks a more realistic gift might be a Triumph TR6 or TR7, mid-1970s and 1980 models respectively, that are economical and drive well, he said. The TR6 runs from $6,000 to $12,000 and the TR7 from $3,000 to $4,000. For a newer car, Mace – ever the sports car enthusiast – said he would recommend a Mazda Miata or Pontiac Solstice. [[In-content Ad]]


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