Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rand Luxury Review At Petersen Automotive Museum - An Automotive Lifestyle POV

Maserati Beverly HIlls unveiling of the Maserati Ghibli - The pleasure and thrill of pure luxury can now be enjoyed every day: the new Maserati Ghibli is a unique combination of style, sporty handling and comfort, designed to make driving a special car an everyday sensation. When designing this car, Maserati drew on all its experience in the manufacturing of GT cars of unmistakable class and top-class performance; thrilling to drive yet comfortable. The result is a unique, eye-catching, and extraordinary sedan. Image Credit: Randy Berg - Special Car Store (2013)

Rand Luxury Review At Petersen Automotive Museum - An Automotive Lifestyle POV
By James Groth, Miles Ahead Communications for The Motorsports-Report - Los Angeles October 23, 2013

On a mid-week evening Rand Luxury drew out a diverse group of hip upscale people of means with a common interest in owning the worlds top brands, first. First may be the operative term here since when you have already achieved wealth, there’s nothing like being “first on the block” with what’s new.

RAND’s Review was a showcase of the absolute latest in electronics, automotive and toys. These were complemented by jewelry from Chan Luu and Silvanna K made from 100% recycled metals and natural minerals. How Green of Silvanna K to combine fashion and conservation. Brand Ambassadors were on hand to demonstrate reference-level magnetic headphones by Audeze, both open and closed-back models for the audiophiles in the crowd or condo dwellers. Guests enjoyed with the latest releases from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Napa Valley and perhaps a fine cigar from Elite Mobil Cigars.

Jewelry  was a big draw for the ladies. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

Guest Beth Ingersoll at the Silvanna K Desings display. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars showcased their finest wines, fashioned to express classic elegance, structure, and age ability to reflect the place in which they are grown, Napa, California. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

I came into one of the rooms with a gentlemen in coat and tie behind the wheel of the race car simulator set up for Le Mans and was genuinely impressed with his driving. He was handling this track like Le Mans winner Derek Bell. I later met him and learned he is the owner of Allen Berg Racing Schools. Allen had his open wheel racer on display and was delighted to inform us of its outstanding capabilities and 7 to1 power to weight ratio. A day behind the wheel of these cars is sure to thrill while sharping ones driving skills.

Allen Berg at the wheel of a Virtual GT simulator. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

Allen Berg standing next to his Allen Berg Racing School w Racecar display. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

However, the sharpest thing on display came from Shun Cutlery. Shun knives are made in Seki, one of Japan’s traditional samurai sword making cities that goes back 700 years. They are crafted using the most advanced materials such as powered steel and take more than 100 handcrafted steps to create. In addition the striking beauty they are uniquely functional with a surface texture that allows food to release from the blade and reduce cutting drag. Whether you’re a serious chef or someone that desires to own the finest it would be hard to fine a more finely crafted product. I would compare their wave like design to a modern sculpture worthy of display in a gallery or galley.

Shun Cutlery Reserve Series knives on display. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

For purpose of this article the main feature was a chance to see the Maserati Ghibli before the LA Car Show in mid November. Maserati has revived the Ghibli name for a sedan this time. The Ghilbi is named after of a hot desert wind in Africa and was used for their exotic sports car prior. Few if any of us got a complete photo of the car since once Maserati of Beverly Hills unveiled it was mobbed: the rest of the evening the crowd took turns posing in front to this exquisite beauty.ew

The Luxury Review was honored to host the West Coast reveal and showcase of the 2014 Maserati Ghibli, courtesy of Ferrari Maserati of Beverly Hills. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

Lady being entertained by Matthew Jensen, Director Miracle Mile Advisors. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

The new Ghilibi does not disappoint, offering fashionable styling with a sense of flare, a hallmark of Italian designers. I appreciated that the grill is not as pronounced as the Grand Sport Coupe. Performance comes from a V6 this time with 404 horsepower and optional all-wheel drive. Add an interior that matches the finest furniture and you have all any gentlemen or lady could require for US motoring and certain to turn heads upon arrival.

Prince Rudolf Kniase Melikoff and MIss Toni Nam Xiong ... a friend who I helped purchase the last Maserati Spyder. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

Gibli’s key feature though is its base price in the $70,000’s. This car is serious competition for all performance sedans in their segment. What ever your preference has been in this segment the Ghilbi will cause most to revaluate their choice next buying cycle. I see pricing a Maserati in the $70K’s as a smart marketing move to get people to make a change from their predictable choices.

To put this strategy in perspective Bentley did this brilliantly in 2005 when they introduced the Continental GT at $160,000. At that time I was hired to set up a road course for first test-drive reports of the GT on the west coast and to work with journalist doing the testing. Later I was one of the test drivers putting break in miles on a GT from Huston to Scottsdale and spokesperson and as on the stand Bentley for the LA Auto Show.

All during this time I queried everyone one what they thought the price should be for the GT. Most people considering the car for purchase and the journalist expected a price around the Aston Martin Vanquish of $260,000 and perhaps as high as $275,000 and that is where I pegged it too. We were all astounded to see it come to market at $160,000.

Had Bentley priced the GT in the higher range few would have questioned it given the prestige and quality of the Continental GT. I felt at that this move was structured to separate Bentley from its previously association with Rolls Royce. This was an outstanding strategy since the previous two years Bentley had sold a total of 400 and 200 cars in the US. While working the press stand at the LA show the orders for the GT were already at 3,000 and no GT’s were even on the street yet.

The Continental GT was a major hit it for all the right reasons perhaps the biggest being pricing that allowed it to be on consideration list for most high end performance buyers. To me this is exactly what Maserati is hoping to do, up the volume and more importantly assure the continued long-term success of the brand. I content that this strategy will be effective again and the Ghilbi which could have listed higher will be a success and lift up Maserati sales and prestige.

In full disclosure I am rooting Maserati, having had three years as Advertising and PR Mgr. when Qvale was US Importer. This was the era of the sensational and stunning mid-engine five-liter V8 Bora that followed the original Ghibili. As great a package as the Bora was I found the Maserati Kamsin with same 4.9 liter engine mounted up front and outrageous styling to be perhaps the most unique performance car of the era. This lasting impression also came from the easy shifting and clutch and steering provide by its Citroen hydraulics.

Marina Del Rey Realtor Beth Ingersoll arriving at the Petersen Museum. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

The setting was the Petersen Automotive Museum, home to one of the world finest collections of iconic and historical automobiles and memorabilia. The Petersen is an event in its own right that is open to the public and available for rent. Two of the things that make the Petersen unique are that the displays and cars change regularly and special events introduce the new displays, giving reason for multiple visits per year.

The Checkered Flag 200 is the serious group of collectors and aficionados that support the museum and host a variety of events. Do check out the Petersen site for information on them and various levels of sponsorship to fit your needs. I was privileged to have attended numerous exclusive and unique events during a six-year membership and can attest to member collections and garages as world class.

When 'Fins' Were a design 'In' ... on almost everything. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

In the 1950's even the boats had fins. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

I also urge you to consider the Petersen for corporate events. I found this museum to be ideal for creating a luxury event to introduce Dunhill’s Jaguar D-type watch and for company Christmas parties. In its early years the Petersen gained additional notoriety when I created and produced the first new car model introduction with live streaming video on the World Wide Web. This new car model launch was broadcasted live from the Petersen Automotive Museum, by the Auto Channel to sixty countries in October 1996 for the launch of the Jaguar XK8 for Hornburg Jaguar. Since then the facility has continued to grow and improve yearly but does need public support to thrive.

Rock group ZZ Top's 'Cadzilla' at the Petersen entrance with Writer/photographer James Groth. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

Maserati's CEO Harald Wester forecasts 22,00 to 25,000 for the full first-year Ghibli sales.

Base price of 2014 Maserati Ghilbli $65,000
3.0-liter V6, 345 hp & 369-lb-ft

Ghibli S Q4 (est) $75,000

3.0-liter, 404-hp, 404-lb-ft twin turbocharged V6
AWD, eight speed automatic.
Curb weight 4, 135 lb
0-62 4.8 sec (mfr)
Fuel Economy (EPA)
17/24/20

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