Beverly Hills Car Club
It is quite possible to drive right past the premises of Beverly Hills Car Club without realising just what lies behind the unassuming exterior of its one-storey brick warehouse in Worth Street, East Los Angeles.
However, let the tactfully positioned signage above a set of wide double-doors guide you inside and you’ll have unlocked a metaphorical key to an almighty Aladdin’s Cave of motoring treasure.
If it’s not the sheer variety of classic 911s that takes you aback, it’ll be the scale of the operation before you – as Beverly Hills Car Club plays host to some 50,000-square feet of classic cars, all of them for sale at fiercely competitive prices.
The availability of these cars on such a large scale presents an enviable proposition for buyers here, who can revel in the luxury of vast choice not just based on model, year and specification, but also condition.
“We buy our cars in any order – we’ll buy it if it doesn’t have an engine, or a door, or it’s been crashed. If it’s a Porsche, we’ll buy it. Whereas people here in America want a car that’s perfect, in Europe they don’t mind restoring a car, taking on a project,” explains Alex Manos, proud proprietor of this ever-expanding metropolis of pre-’89 Porsches.
It’s this statement that confirms why Beverly Hills Car Club do so well in exporting to Europe, where we’ve witnessed dozens of examples end up in the last few months alone.
As Alex guides us through the myriad pathways around a monopoly of warehouses bedecked with parked Porsches, he agrees that European buyers are a core part of business for his Californian-based company.
“A year ago 90 per cent of our Porsche stock went to Europe. Now it’s more like 80 per cent, which is still very strong. The UK in particular buys so many cars from us – you would imagine there would be an issue with left-hand drive cars being in a right-hand drive environment, but they don’t seem to mind,” he says.
As our pictures demonstrate, getting hold of classic Porsches doesn’t seem to pose too much of a problem for Alex and his team of 43 staff. So where does this unremitting haul of flat six sports cars come from?
“We only buy from within the US, and of course we prefer dry states,” Alex says. And how important is it to have cars with matching numbers? “To me the most important thing is the car itself.”
“The more background and history that comes with a car, the more important the car becomes. However, we are volume based, so while others in the industry double their price for a car with lots of history, we’re not like that.”
“For us, the price is the same; so the wise retailers buy from us but intelligent businesses from Europe also buy from us. It’s like a resale facility with wholesale prices.”
Alex’s classic car passion stems from childhood when his father used to take him for a ride in his Jaguar E Type. This culminated in Alex acquiring a classic car – a four-door Lincoln Continental sedan – as a hobby in 2000. He continues the story:
“I bought it from the Lincoln Mercury service manager, so the car was perfect mechanically. I think I paid $4,800 for it. At the time I was dating what may well have been the hottest girl in the city and everywhere I went people would pull up next to me and say they wanted to buy the car.”
“I thought it was just the vibe because they saw the guy in a car with a blonde girl in California! Eventually I got an offer I couldn’t refuse so I sold it and got a convertible Lincoln instead.”
“I restored the car over a period of eight months and the day it was finished, I drove it down Sunset Boulevard and a guy being driven by somebody else pulled up next to me. He asked me how much the car was worth, which at the time was $35,000.”
“Naturally I told him $55,000 and he asked me to pull over. We eventually came to a deal at $45,000 – he bought it the very next day and mentioned he had five other cars and was looking to add to his collection and wanted to do business with me, and everything simply grew from there.”
Originally hailing from Europe (Alex was born in Clapham, London) meant that European cars quickly became a passion, which is where a love affair with the legendary Porsche 911 came into fruition – a passion that has grown exponentially, culminating in the sale of 1,500 Porsches since the official opening of Beverly Hills Car Club in 2008.
It’s hard not to admire the poetic story of Alex, himself an engaging, convivial character who’s honest and enthusiastic about his business initiative.
His strategy – with a focus on volume rather than significant mark-up – certainly makes for a refreshing change at a time when we’ve witnessed huge upheaval and inflation in prices of classic and modern classic 911s.
First opened: 2008
Location: Los Angeles, California
Area of expertise: Air-cooled Porsche 911s up to 1989
Rarest car sold: We’ve had some of the earliest ’65 Porsche 911s in the USA through our door.
Interesting fact about the business: Beverly Hills Car Club has sold over 1,500 Porsche 911s alone since officially opening in 2008. The company has strong connections with Europe and sells 80 per cent of its cars on the European market, while aiming to acquire at least one Porsche every day.
Telephone: 001 (310) 975-0272
So how has this shift in used 911 market trends affected a business that likes to acquire at least that one Porsche every single day? “Selling has got easier, without doubt, but conversely buying has got harder,” Alex tells us. “The hardest part of business to have to contend with is auctions.”
“Owners see a car go for a certain price at auction and then they think all such cars hold the same value – but they don’t talk about the one that just sold on eBay for a quarter of that price. For that reason, it’s a lot harder because people are a lot more unrealistic about the car they are trying to sell.”
Back to our walk around, and from inside it seems as if the premises at Beverly Hills Car Club stretches all over Los Angeles. Just when we think we’ve seen it all, Alex reveals yet another warehouse that’s fully stocked with hundreds more of Zuffenhausen’s finest.
Every plausible model is present in the room: Coupes, Cabriolets, Targas, short wheelbase, long wheelbase, long bonnet, impact bumpers, the lot. We’ve not seen a bigger collection of Porsches since our visit to the factory in Stuttgart.
With such variety on show, it just goes to show there really is a Porsche out there for everybody and, if you’ve not found yours yet, the chances are it’s ready and waiting for you at Beverly Hills Car Club.