Don't Kick the Tires: Ferraris Strike a Glamorous Pose for Grand Opening

Prada, Fendi, Gucci -- but no Louis V. They're laying the luxury on thick at tonight's grand opening party for Fort Lauderdale's new Ferrari-Maserati shop. Promoters say the invite-only, catered event will attract some 600 members of South Florida's upper crust, from Dolphins and Heat players to top plastic surgeons and car collectors, all there to mingle with fellow millionaires and check out the new 30,000-square-foot storefront.

The rooms, created by famed interior designer Steven G., will be filled with the scent of fine leather and packed with exotic cars whose cumulative value surpasses the GDP of small nations. The crown jewel is the Compitizione Speciale Ferrari, a road race champ crafted in 1965. Promoters are circulating the rumor that the car's owner turned down a $35 million offer for the car. Did Michelangelo make that model?

No, but to Garrett S. Hayim, who owns the Fort Lauderdale front and has another location in Long Island, that car and its successors are Italy's modern masterpieces. "High performance, luxury Italian automobiles are literal works of mechanical art," Hayim preaches in the party invite. "We needed a showroom that was the perfect setting to show off the craftsmanship and aesthetic beauty of these amazing automobiles."

But in an economy where billionaires have been reduced to mega-millionaires and mega-millionaires to -- gasp! -- the merely well-off, hasn't Ferrari lost some customers? If so, the company's not letting on.

"Since Ferraris aren't mass produced, there are waiting lists and a very high demand," says spokesman David Sabin, adding that roughly 4,000 are made annually and that they're available in just 33 U.S. dealerships. Of course, if Ferrari really was desperate for sales, it would never admit it. At a time like this, no luxury company -- not even an Italian maker of iconic cars -- can afford to lose its air of exclusivity.

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