Exotic rentals, an incomplete history

Discussion in 'Hawaii' started by sowest, Mar 14, 2009.

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  1. sowest

    sowest Formula Junior
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    Aug 18, 2006
    895
    For a number of years, Waikiki was full of Ferraris and other exotic cars to rent. In stark contrast to today, there were also many visitors willing and able to spend the money to enjoy some time with a special car.

    It all started with one enterprising fellow that had a '78 or '79 308 GTS. He struck a deal with the manager of a small shop on the main drag through Waikiki to park his car near the sidewalk with a "Rent Me" sign on it. The shop manager let him run a phone cord out the door and he would sit by the car on a beach chair. This was before there were cell phones. When he rented the car, he would fold up his chair and go to the gym or the beach. Business was good and he spent a lot of time at the gym or on the beach. With time, he built up a small fleet of cars and eventually sold the business and went to the mainland.

    Well, this method of separating the visitors from their money did not go without notice and soon others jumped into the fray. Off the top of my head, I can think of five different companies that were renting exotics during this golden period. For the right amount of money, one could have the fun and pleasure of driving anything from a Miata to a Diablo. There were Harley Davidsons and Japanese sport bikes for rent also. From a liability standpoint, I never understood how the owners of the rental companies could sleep at night. None of these vehicles were crippled or limited in any way.

    As time passed by, it became harder and harder to cover the costs of running such a business. As the cars got newer, they became harder and more costly to service and repair. They also became more "fragile" and less able to handle the abuse that was given to them in rental service. General business and insurance costs also rose dramatically. Waikiki was changing and being developed and the few locations that were available to set up a small office and keep a selection of cars were disappearing.

    At the end of 2008, the last of the original companies closed. It had been several months before the end that they did not even have a Ferrari to rent. It was sad to see the end. For a month or two, for the first time since the original 308 was sitting on the sidewalk, there was no Ferrari to be rented in Waikiki. Just recently, someone has tried to get things started again. I admire his guts and determination, but the whole visitor industry is looking pretty grim right now. I wish him all the best.
     
  2. JV's89

    JV's89 F1 Rookie
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    Jul 18, 2006
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    My car came from Hawii. I was told by a dealership in Florida that if a Ferrari comes from Hawaii it was probably a rental. Based on the work I've put into it , I believe him.
     
  3. sowest

    sowest Formula Junior
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    Aug 18, 2006
    895
    It would be hard to disagree with the gentleman in Florida. There were a lot of cars in rental service here in the Islands, not only on Oahu, but Maui and the Big Island too. To be honest, I don't know if there were any on Kauai.There were also quite a few private owner cars. I do remember mutiple people commenting about how they had never been to a location where they saw so many Ferraris on the road. This included the mainland and Europe.

    The rental cars led a very rough life. It was enlightening to see how the cars did or did not withstand the abuse.

    It makes me laugh now. I remember getting the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th 348 clutch from Algar and Livio remarked, "What the heck are you guys doing out there? Our shop has yet to do one."
     
  4. JV's89

    JV's89 F1 Rookie
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    Jul 18, 2006
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    Mabe that explains why mine shifts so well - it was probably rebuilt at least once before I bought it :) . Cosmeticly the car wasn't too bad but I did have to put new heads in and we rebuilt the botom end at the same time. According to my mechanic it looked as though the car had been driven while low on oil and had over-heated to the point of warping the heads ( might have been the other way around ). I now have a great car, but like they say, there's no such thing as a cheap Ferrari.
     
  5. birddog

    birddog Formula Junior
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    Jun 24, 2006
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    Ed
    My wedding gift from my wife was a 24 hour rental of a 328 GTS on Maui for $300 in 1995 (during our honeymoon). It was just awesome. I was amazed to see that the car still had the tool roll and jack roll in it, and overall it was in great shape. Maybe it had just started its life as a rental. I don't know, but it sure was something I'll never forget. And it took me another 13 years to get another ride in a Ferrari. That one's still sitting in my garage.
     
  6. JV's89

    JV's89 F1 Rookie
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    Was it a black 89 by any chance :) ?
     
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  8. MikeInSanFrancisco

    May 27, 2005
    77
    San Francisco, CA
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    Michael
    I remember a black 328 for rent in Waikiki the last time I was there (in 2001 I think) I have a picture somewhere.
     
  9. sowest

    sowest Formula Junior
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    Aug 18, 2006
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    After seeing all kinds of cars in rental service, the 328 stands out as the best, most durable money maker of them all. It was easy and inexpensive to service and the purchase price was low enough to provide a good profit for the rental companies. As the newer cars came out, people wanted to rent those and the 328 and 308 faded away. The companies were sorry to see them go, but the demand dropped way off and the price had to be pretty low to get them out on the road.
     
  10. 10boom

    10boom Karting

    Jan 5, 2005
    157
    WA
    I rented the black 328 GTS several times in Waikiki in the early 2000's. I can never remember the name of the place, but it was in a gas station that sat across from the Thai restaurant and was right next to a hotel that sat beside Ft. Derussi (spelling?) park. That guy also had a blue 355 Spyder and a 360 as well. I would go there in the off season and the guy inside would give me a really good deal. The last time I was there was in 2005 and I think the 355 was still there, but it looked rough. We had some good times cruising around the island.
     
  11. JV's89

    JV's89 F1 Rookie
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    I think all you guys should reimburse me for at least part of my engine rebuild :).
     
  12. Mule

    Mule F1 Rookie
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    Jun 25, 2003
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    I rented the black 328 myself in 2001 or 2002. Bought my own black 328 in late 2002 based on that.

    The place was called Ferrari Rentals (I still have the business card), and was right in front of the open are of Fort Derussey on Kalakaua Ave. You can still see it on Google Maps with a yellow PT Cruiser in the lot.
     
  13. David_S

    David_S F1 Veteran
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    Nov 1, 2003
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    Great stories! Was always a red 308 whenever my submarines pulled into Pearl during the early '90s... Never did rent one, but surely should have!

    $300 for 24 hours with a 328??? Lord that is cheap!
     
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  15. Kds

    Kds F1 World Champ

    I last went to Waikiki in 2007........and remember walking down the main beachfront street and seeing a black 360 and a bunch of other cars (Porsche 911 and Boxster, Miata, 300ZX....etc) parked in a lot with rent me signs on them.....and some storefront signage for exotic rentals......

    The 360 was cosmetically beat.....it's blacjk paint was covered in dents and scratches.....
     
  16. birddog

    birddog Formula Junior
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    Jun 24, 2006
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    Nope, rosso corsa w/black interior - sorry.

    No kidding!!! I thought it was a ton of money back then - but now it sure seems like a bargain!
     
  17. Ferrarinw2

    Ferrarinw2 Five Time F1 World Champ

    Jun 7, 2006
    54,439
    yep
     
  18. ferrariblex

    ferrariblex Karting

    Sep 28, 2005
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    Madison, WI
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    Brandon Blexrude
    #16 ferrariblex, Mar 29, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2009
    It's very sad and surprising for me to learn that Ferrari Rentals and the other exotic car rental businesses in Oahu are no longer in business. I remember Ferrari Rentals having quite a large fleet of cars in 1998 while I was going to college in Hawaii, which included a silver Diablo VT, a black Rolls-Royce Silver Spur, a red Testarossa, red 355 Spiders, red 348s, several 328s, yellow/black/red Dodge Vipers, a black Lotus Esprit S4, Porsche 993s, Corvettes, and other less significant cars.

    During my last vacation to Waikiki in 2003 the owner of Ferrari Rentals, Steve Colivas, picked me up at my hotel when I rented their grigio/bordeaux Maserati Spyder Cambiocorsa. Steve had many great stories to tell about his experiences in the exotic car rental business and the different exotics they had owned over the years. Steve told me that Ferrari Rentals previously owned the the "money green" Diablo that Malcom Forbes ordered, but never took delivery of. He mentioned that Ferrari Rentals got out of renting the Diablos after a while as he got tired of getting calls in the middle of the night from customers who were stranded with them and because of their fragile nature, giving a specific example of how a Diablo clutch could be destroyed by dumping the clutch hard twice. Steve spoke very highly of 328s' durability and mentioned that they were one of his favorite Ferraris to have in the fleets as they caused the least amount of trouble.

    I really liked the Maserati Spyder and thought that the $350 I paid to rent it for a day was very reasonable. I had a blast driving it along Oahu's north shore until I had a tire blow-out at the Turtle Bay Hilton on New Year's eve, which resulted in me having to take the bus back to Waikiki (talk about a buzzkill, eh?). When I got back to Waikiki, Ferrari rentals gave me replacement car, a white Porsche 996 Cabriolet, to drive for the rest of New Year's for no extra charge. Despite the owner of Ferrari Rentals and one of his employees having to make the long drive to the north shore to retrieve the Maserati and go through the hassle of getting the blown tire replaced, they only charged me for the cost of replacing the tire, which I thought was super nice of them.

    I tried renting the yellow F355 Spider they had the next day, but the driver's power seat motor or switch broke before I was able to get the car out of the parking lot. Ferrari Rentals also had a stunning blue F355 Spider that had crema seats with blue suede inserts, crema lower door/dash panels, and upper door/dash panels in a deep navy color.

    I can only hope that the exotic car rental business will once again thrive again in the Hawaiian islands some day, but won't be surprised if it doesn't happen due absurdly expensive and fragile nature of the parts found in modern Ferraris.
     
  19. sowest

    sowest Formula Junior
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    Ferrariblex

    Thanks very much for your post about Steve and Ferrari Rentals. He worked very hard at that business. He was there all day every day for years. I considered Steve a friend and was very sorry when he came by the shop to say good-bye. For a variety of reasons, the rental business became harder and harder to make work as the years went by. He fought very hard to keep going right up to the end of last year.

    Again, thanks for your good words.
     
  20. the_stig

    the_stig F1 Rookie

    Sep 19, 2005
    2,930
    I know someone who learned to drive a stick on that red TR.
     
  21. DennisForza

    DennisForza Formula 3

    May 23, 2006
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    Dennis
    I lived in a house on Keoniana St right around the corner from the ferrari rental shop on Kalakaua Ave. in 1990-91. They had some fun vehicles out there, while the 308 and 328 were obvioulsy my favorite for the time, they also had a very nice classic Ford Skyliner, but seemed to rent out scooters to make sure the rent was always covered. The swarms of scooters at 3am when I had to be back on base on the other end of the H-3 at 0600 for PT drove me nuts!
     
  22. rushdriven

    rushdriven Formula 3

    Jul 1, 2004
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    #20 rushdriven, Apr 2, 2009
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2009
    In 1997 I rented a 1986 328 GTS in Maui - 24 hours for $400 from Ferrari Rentals II. It was my law school graduation present to myself. I'm guessing it was the same car. Rosso Corsa w/black interior. When I rented the car, it was not in the greatest shape, but it sure was fun to drive.
     
  23. ferrariblex

    ferrariblex Karting

    Sep 28, 2005
    116
    Madison, WI
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    Brandon Blexrude
    You're most welcome! It is the least I can do for all the great memories Ferrari Rentals allowed me and others to have. Hopefully some others will take the time to tell us about their Ferrari Rentals adventures!
     
  24. mauispence

    mauispence Formula Junior

    Aug 2, 2005
    526
    Lahaina, Maui, Hawai
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    Jim Spence
    The toy store on West Maui is gone!!! They had a yellow 430 spider I believe and a Maserati spider and a couple of 'vetts and MB's. I think there was even a Audi convertible and a Hummer or two. Local’s “no can” rent exotics at 500$ for 3hrs.;) “We ride da bus foa one dolla ,mo betta eh?”:)
     
  25. mauibarber

    mauibarber Rookie

    Oct 10, 2005
    22
    Maui, Hawaii
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    Alex Morgan
    Business' are dropping like flies around here.

    Chrysler dealership is closing
    Hotel employees aren't even allowed to talk about how slow they are or the employees get fired.
    All the exotic rental places are closed.
    The "Maui Mall" is 60 percent vacant.
    I could go on and on.
     
  26. Fastviper

    Fastviper F1 Rookie

    Nov 20, 2003
    4,408
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    Dash
    One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't rent a 308 when I was there...twice I don't know why..

    I am just a little stunned with Hawaii being the most beautiful picture taking place that no one on this thread posted even one pic..
     
  27. mauispence

    mauispence Formula Junior

    Aug 2, 2005
    526
    Lahaina, Maui, Hawai
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    Jim Spence
    Ok Here you go!
     

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