Exotic car dealers say they’ve had bumper years for sales recently thanks to Toronto’s strong economy, crediting well-heeled newcomers who are driving an increasing demand for cars that may be unaffordable for most people.
At the Auto Exotica exhibit of the Canadian International AutoShow, 28 exotic cars with a combined value of more than $30 million are on display starting Friday — including the first Canadian appearance of the McLaren Senna, as well as the latest from Lamborghini, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Ferrari and Lotus.
The show also landed the North American premier of the Devel Sixteen — it’s the first time the car has been seen at any auto show outside of the company’s home city of Dubai.
“They have to come here. We buy their cars,” said Sonny Yashpal, who does car detailing for Grand Touring Automobiles, a dealership that sells models by Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover and Bugatti.
He says demand has accelerated for high-end luxury and exotic automobiles and the dealership has had double digit sales growth over the last three years, from a few hundred cars a year to thousands — enough to warrant building a new location, the company’s third, just east of the Don River.
“It just seems like Toronto has a larger grasp on the premium car market. You know we are the hub of Canada really when it comes to our GDP,” he said.
“Toronto’s also such a mix of people; people want to live here and that drives foreign investment. Everyone wants to raise their kids here because it’s a safe, diverse place.”
Chris Green of Pfaff McLaren Toronto says you only have to look at the Woodbridge-based dealership’s sales figures to explain why so many high-end car manufacturers need to have a presence in the GTA.
“In 2017, we were given the honour of being McLaren’s global retailer of the year,” said Green, adding that the Toronto location sold the most number of the high-end sports cars in the world that year and accounted for half of the 200 cars McLaren sold in Canada.
“We got money in this country, man. There’s definitely money,” Green told CBC Toronto.
A new McLaren Sports Series 540 starts around $200,000 and tops out at more than $1 million for the McLaren Senna, he said.
“What we offer is a useable everyday supercar. And typically you don’t have those words combined in the same phrase, but it’s something that we offer,” he said.
But dealers don’t attribute the healthy sales for these types of cars to the growth in the number of “one per centers” in this city alone.
Car culture in Toronto is also being fueled by social media, says Marlon Shaw, who has been posting pictures and videos to his Carswithoutlimits Instagram and Youtube channels and has gained almost four million followers.
“I think over the last few years the whole car scene has blown up like crazy,” he said.
“A few years ago you’d see one or two exotic cars. Now, the market has blown up.”
Indujan Sarvananthan also posts to Carswithoutlimits and says social media has definitely pushed Toronto’s exotic car craze into high gear.
And he says the social aspect has meant more meet-ups and car shows in the city.
“A lot of these guys are actually posting their cars on Instagram and it’s out there. People are like, ‘OK, these guys are driving their cars in the winter. These guys are actually outside,'” said Sarvananthan.
“It’s more fun to see these cars on the road. You get cars seen on social media Facebook, Instagram, everywhere.”