Dreaming of a Ferrari? Rental is the answer

Wed Aug 19, 2009 2:17pm EDT
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By Cecile LeFort

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - The credit crunch may have dented some motorists' dreams of owning a Ferrari but the rental market for luxury cars in many countries, including Australia, is gathering speed as the rest of the auto industry splutters.

Australia's Supercar Club, which makes luxury cars available to a pool of members, is drawing new clients every month who would rather borrow an Aston Martin or a Lamborghini on the weekend to release their inner James Bond than own one.

"I joined the club so that I could enjoy the benefits of the cars without the expenditure," said Rod Spencer, an IT consultant from Melbourne.

Luxury car clubs have become a popular alternative to the costly hobby of owning, insuring and maintaining high-priced hot wheels, giving car enthusiasts easy access to the keys of dozens of exotic cars.

Amid the financial crisis, sales of luxury cars have fallen sharply with Lamborghini, Bentley and Maserati this year reporting sales down more than half from a year ago in the United States alone. Sales for Ferrari and Porsche are down 30 percent.

This fall-off in luxury car sales has been a boost for clubs like Australia's Supercar Club which has sought to take advantage of this surge in interest by launching new ways to attract members seeking an auto adrenaline rush.

Earlier this year, it launched test drive days that are open to car enthusiasts happy to shell out A$1,320 to sample a selection of their dream cars including a Lamborghini Gallardo Coupe, a Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale or an Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

The club has also started a Superbike club and is currently looking into marine and aviation projects.   Continued...

<p>An orange Lamborghini Gallardo is seen at Australia's Supercar Club in Sydney August 13, 2009. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz</p>