Having made a trip to Scottsdale to visit the Penske Museum, which is reported on elsewhere on this site, I could not help noticing that not only were there a lot of interesting cars parked up in the vicinity, but on on either side of the museum, there were a number of regular car showrooms, if one can call Bentley, Aston-Martin, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, and others “regular”. Having enjoyed the museum I decided to investigate. These days, Penske Group has the franchise for a diverse portfolio of brands, and they seem to welcome visitors to come and browse in one or more of the showrooms. Indeed, I was told that this location has become almost a tourist attraction of the area in its own right. Here is just a subset of what I found:
No sign of a One-77, or a Cygnet, but there were plenty of other Aston-Martins to enjoy, including several examples of the Rapide, a car which I really like.
I had a long chat with a salesman in here, especially once he found out that I owned an Audi. He told me that business is booming, and that many cars are now on anything up to a 6 month lead time. The best selling Audi in America, by some measure, is the Q5, and wait times for these are particularly prolonged. He did also tell me that plenty of customers “complain” that the Q7 is “too small”. We then talked about the models that are and are not available in the US. The TT-RS is coming later in the year, but he said that they will not get the A5 Sportback and also will not get the RS3. He was a bit disappointed by the Top Gear review of the RS5 vs BMW M3 (it seems that everyone in the US still watches the UK Top Gear rather than the native US version!), but that there is still a lot of interest in it. The A7 goes on sale in the US very shortly, and they kindly gave me a brochure. He also told me that the DSG gearbox is not well received in the US, as the gearchanges are deemed to be not smooth enough. the TT-RS will be sold with a manual box, as will the Golf R. So, it’s not just BMW that are offering manuals to the market that allegedly does not like them, and not offering them in European markets, who do!
A lovely display of all the current cars, with 3 Continental GT SuperSports, two of which did have back seats fitted. These cars were listed at around $280,000 each.
This showroom is less prominent than some of the others, though it is right next to Audi, and there is a healthy rivalry between these neighbours. A representative sample of the current US range was to be found in here, including an F10 model 550i. There was no sign of the latest F12 6 series convertible, though.
Although there was a Bugatti logo on the outside of the building, there were no Bugattis to be seen, sadly.
Focus here was on the new XJ. I gathered from the salesman that I talked to that it has generated a lot of interest, mostly form people new to the brand. Some long-standing Jaguar customers had “complained” and said that they preferred the old styling, though many are getting accustomed to the new look.
Two Gallardo cars were at the front of this showroom, a Convertible and a SuperLeggera
Examples of the entire US range were in here. Note that the Discovery is badged LR4 for the US market, and the Freelander the LR2.
Mini only have a small showroom, with three cars in it, but there were vast numbers of every model type parked up outside and “round the back”. Surprisingly, all the Countrymen were outside.
Highlight here was a Carrera GT. The car had been sold (apparently for around $300,000), but even so the salesman very obligingly went to get the key so the engine cover could be opened up (it was a young lad and his father who asked, ever so politely). Of the 1800 or so cars built, about 750 of them came to America, but everyone who was in the showroom while I was there said that this was the first time they had ever seen a Carerra GT.
There were plenty of examples of the current range of cars. This was one of the rare days when the roof would be required on the Boxster Spider.ROLLS-ROYCE
There were examples of all four current production models, and very elegant they all looked, too.
Americans are really not sure what to make of this brand. Most of the time, it gets savaged as the cars are deemed to be too slow, too small and too unsafe. Whilst the middle of these allegations is undeniable, the other two are more subjective. It is certainly that sales volumes have been disappointing, though I note that a handful are now appearing in the US rental fleets. Maybe with fuel prices between $3 and $4 a gallon, the economy benefits will appeal to a few more people, especially those for whom the range limitations of a Leaf are just too restrictive.
VW’s biggest selling car in America is the Jetta. There has been much comment, and negative feedback even in the US press about the measures taken in the latest model to remove cost, some more visible than others, and yet, it is reported that sales have increased quite significantly.
For me, there was more interest in the three vehicles at the front of the showroom, all of which were immaculate. I am sure that it would be almost mission impossible to keep the white seats of the Type 2 in the pristine condition in which they appeared to be. The “Thing”, also known as the Type 181, or Trekker was probably the most unusual vehicle of the trio. Browsing through these showrooms, and talking to friendly staff in several of them made for an excellent afternoon, and a perfect antidote to the wet and soggy weather that is so unusual in this part of America. These showrooms are just off North Scottsdale Road, off the 101 freeway, and well worth a visit for anyone in the area.