HIGH-END USED CARS VROOM INTO RED BANK

A luxury used-car lot that opened last month at Maple Avenue and Broad Street in Red Bank features pricey vehicles, including the Bentley GT Speed shown here, tagged at $120,000. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508The Forbesification of the Red Bank-area motor fleet has shifted into higher gear.

There’s already the weekly display of Michael Fux-owned Rolls-Royces, Ferraris, Aston Martins and other high-end cars outside Blue Water Seafood, as well as the success of high-end servicers Detail Doctor and Massimo Motorworks, both in Shrewsbury and both catering to the $100,000-plus wheelset.

Now, added to the mix: a luxury used-car lot.

Auto Exotica II opened last month, at the junction of Maple Avenue and Broad Street in Red Bank, reprising on a small scale its parent, Auto Exotica, on Route 36 in Atlantic Highlands.

Whereas the original store has some 300 luxury cars on its lot at any given time, the Red Bank showroom features little more than a dozen, including a cloud-white Rolls-Royce, a handful of BMW and Mercedess models, and a $120,000 Bentley.

The business has a six-month tryout lease at the location, said Auto Exotica owner Frank Sala, of Navesink.

The new place is bit of an experiment at extending the brand for Auto Exotica, which sells most of its vehicles through the Internet, some of them sight-unseen, Sala tells redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn.

“I said, ‘let’s give it a shot,'” he said. “We’ll be there for six months and see what happens.”

Sala has been in the pre-owned luxury vehicle for 30 years, and said sales are better now than ever before.

“The simple reason is that the Internet has pretty much made you available to the whole world,” he said, with customers from Dubai, Russia and elsewhere lining up for his vehicles.

Locally, he hopes to catch the eye of the well-heeled resident of Rumson or Little Silver who wants a taste of the top of the market without shelling out new-car money. “It’s for the wealthier guy who says, ‘I’m not going to spend $180,000 on a new Bentley. I’ll get a used one for $100,000.’ We take them and make them as perfect as possible.”

They’re not all high-end vehicles at Auto Exotica. Also on the lot this week: a used Mini Cooper tagged at just $24,000.

The property has been through a rotation of auto-based uses over the years, including a filling station, repair shop, used Mercedes dealer, a motor scooter shop. Most recently, it was home to a gold-buying business.

In 2010, a group led by a Morganville man bought the property under the name BROMAP LLC and won borough planning board approval to install a small restaurant called My Italian Deli there. But that plan has fallen through, a BROMAP spokesperson tells Churn.