Show Up For The Champagne, Stay For The Supercars

Herb Chambers is a legend in the Boston business world.  Originally hailing from the notorious D-O-T (Dorchester, MA) he built one empire after another and is now best known for running one what might be the largest network of car dealers in the region.

His personal vehicle collection includes a McLaren F1 and a helicopter, so when he wanted to amend his Bentley/Rolls-Royce shop in Wayland by adding a full-fledged Lamborghini dealership- he picked up the phone and made it happen.  Recession be damned, Bostonians need access to $100,000+ supercars.

To smash a proverbial bottle over the bow of the building, Herb and Lamborghini’s PR company Centigrade threw a semi-formal gala on location where enthusiasts, members of the press and the not-so-general public could rub shoulders and taken in the cars.  I managed to score an invite and wedged the cute-ute I borrowed from mum between a Ferrari 458 Italia and a DeTomaso Pantera in the parking lot.

As soon as I rolled up I was reminded of how much old money Bostonians love to dress like easter eggs.  I’d never seen as many suits with pink, lime green, and powder blue utilized as the primary color.  If The Hunger Games was set in a dystopian New England this is how the freaky rich people would have looked.

The automotive celebrities in attendance- Michael Lock of Lamborghini, the head men of Bentley and Rolls Royce as well as Herb Chambers himself, were easy to spot in more traditional business attire.

But naturally it was the machines on display that I was here to see.  The showroom housed two Bentley Mulsannes, a Continental GT, three Lamborghini Gallardos, an Aventador, an three Rolls Royces- a Ghost, a massive drophead (convertible) and the their newest version of the flagship Phantom which was unveiled at the event by the one of the company’s top men himself.

The parking lot was looking lively as well where a few Ferraris, two Murciélagos, and an ancient Rolls Royce Ghost were hanging out with Herb’s surplus of Bentleys waiting to be collected by their future owners.  Of particular interest was a Jaguar XKR-S in that “French Racing Blue” paintwork it’s always wearing in the commercial.

I made my way over to the service area which was just as immaculate as the show floor- complete with red velvet rope.  A far cry from the shack my bike shares with a family of squirrels, but I’m still confident I could beat any of these preps in a race from the beach to the polo field on my Gixxer.

The car I wanted to see most was Lamborghini’s new 700 horsepower animal- the Aventador.  They had one plopped square in the middle of the new room in a fittingly-ostentatious orange color.

Although they declined my request to fire it up, the car’s presence was still impossible to ignore.

The first thing I noticed was its size.  Those who have only seen Lamborghinis in pictures and video games don’t realize how massive they are.  Despite only having room for two people and a briefcase I’m pretty sure the Aventador was about twice as wide and a third as long as my sister’s ML320.

The car’s drama continues with crisp chiseled lines- even the taillights look sharp enough to cut yourself on- and the side air intakes behind the door could swallow a condor.

But just in case you manage to see all this, open the car’s signature scissor door, and climb in the fighter jet cockpit without realizing the machine’s intensity, the start button is covered by a red flap like- well, like a fighter jet.  That’s some Tony Stark shit right there.

The Gallardos looked rather tame in comparison, so I guess the band set up between them?

I had seen and sampled just about everything by the time Mr. Chambers made his speech, singing his praises of the impressive vehicular designs and hor d’vours we had all been enjoying.  But the most interesting comment he made was that every car we were looking at had already been sold.

Wow, either new money is starting to gain traction around here or god had been answering a whole lot of Janis Joplin-esque prayers.  Because I did not see too many people in this room that would have looked comfortable strapped in to an asphalt-eating Aventador for their commute to the office or weekend ride to Cape Cod.

Next up was the new Phantom unveiling.  After the cover had been lifted, the Rolls representative watched nervously as old ladies plopped themselves on the crisp-white passenger seats with glasses of merlot shaking in their hands.

Once I had seen everything a couple times I caught site of Lamborghini COO Michael Lock making a phone call outside.  When he finished and made his way to the champagne table, I bellied up next to him and asked for a brief interview.

He was kind enough to oblige, and I hustled through my mind-gears to think of something halfway articulate to ask him as we made our way to a couch next to a dark blue Gallardo.

Mr. Lock is an adept businessman and motor vehicle enthusiast from London.  Before working at Lamborghini he was in charge of marketing at THINK Electric Vehicles and had spent time as Ducati’s North America CEO.  He was very well spoken and I must say, easier to understand than most Londoners I’d met.  I couldn’t help but notice how well he connected quick bursts of thoughts with pauses for accentuation, he was a great conversationalist.

Here’s an excerpt of our meeting and yes, he knew he was being recorded.

[RoadRoving] So how long in the making has Lamborghini coming to Boston been for you guys?

[Michael Lock] Well we’ve been with Herb Chambers for, must have been around eighteen months but, this is the launch of our own dedicated showroom.  And this project has taken about twelve months.

We have quite exacting standards when it comes to the fit-out and the floor tiles, and the whole décor- all up it’s been about a twelve month project.

[RR] …Now, you’ve worked for Ducati as well haven’t you?

[ML] Yes.

[RR] So, if you can speak candidly- four wheels or two?

[ML]  Ah, well it depends what mood you’re in!  I can tell you if I lived up here in Boston I would have to have four and two.  I lived in California for ten years where two wheels was just fine.

…the thing about Italian brands, whether it’s Ducati or Lamborghini, is there’s this kind of mechanical adrenaline flowing through them that’s really unique… I think if you like Ducati you’ll like Lamborghini and vice versa.  I can’t imagine that you’d love the cars and not love the bikes.  Really.

[RR]  Sure.  Is there a favorite feature you have on any of the vehicles in Lamborghini’s latest lineup?

[ML]  You know, the thing I’m reminded of every time I drive them is- that it looks exotic, it sounds exotic, it’s superfast, and yet, you could drive it all day.

…I think that’s the big thing about the latest line of our cars.  With the partnership [between] Audi and Lamborghini- Audi’s a name you can trust for quality, fit and finish, and for ease of use- they’re kind of a household name for all of that.  For them to be able to assist and advise and consult for Lamborghini, to make what we do something that’s not intimidating anymore…

…You go back to the big  hairy-chested Lamborghinis of two years ago, and they were extraordinary, but you had to relearn everything you knew about driving.

You really did, and the cars were scary.  The cars were fantastic, but they were scary.  The cars were for professionals only.  The beauty of what we produce now, whether it’s a Gallardo… or even an Aventador, a 700 horsepower carbon fiber car, you could drive it to the grocery store and park it in the parking lot!

And that’s a big deal about modern Lamborghinis- you can drive them.

[RR]  …Eloquent indeed, now if you could answer one thing without thinking, and I can never resist asking anybody this; your favorite car?

[ML] Of all time?

[RR] All time.

[ML] A couple different Alfa Romeos, a couple Lancias, the original Porsche 911, I can think of a lot cars I like.  A lot.

[RR]  Well thanks so much for speaking with me,  I really appreciate you time and have a good night!

After Mr. Lock and I parted ways I took one last lap around the show floor, hoping to spot a moneyed older woman who might buy me a car… but alas, the only people who would talk to me wanted to tell me about how well their lime green pants matched their wives enormous hats.

Maybe next time I’ll bring my bike to one of these and see if I can stir anybody up for a race.

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