Here's a 'guy' question. Is it uncool to drool? Really, I mean it. When you're standing in a showroom with over a hundred vintage muscle cars, all for sale, is it okay to become slacked jawed and lose a little saliva?
Sal Akbani says sure it is. He's the President and CEO of Gateway Classic Cars Inc. It is a St. Louis headquartered company that brokers classic cars both in that Missouri city, and in this showroom in Charlotte. How good is business? He plans to open a showroom in Atlanta soon, and then one somewhere along the Florida coast, likely Daytona. That's how good.
"When times are good we have lots of buyers. When times aren't so good, like now, we have lots of sellers. Either way we win," Akbani says, as we stand surrounded by my youth, cars from about 1961 to the late 70's. There are ones and twos before and after that, but this is a baby boomer driven two billion dollar industry. Yes, two billion ,with a 'b' , dollar business.
"What's happening now is that 'boomer' kids are starting to buy their parents 'dream' cars. You know, the 35 to 50 year old group are the ones with the real money these days."
Akbani says that while we watch a group, maybe 6 or 7, of just the right demographic stroll through the showroom. Stopping, staring, you can almost feel the longing. But as much fun as this is to watch, and do, it isn't how Gateway does most of its business.
It sells, and buys, and makes its commission, via the internet. It was one of , if not 'the', first, 'car' sites along the information superhighway. You can click there, peruse the showrooms, check out that '67 Cuda you've always wanted, and buy it and have it shipped, without every leaving home. "It's a trust business. We have a reputation. We never disappoint our customers," says Akbani.
Gateway ships cars all over the world, the Australians LOVE American muscle cars. So do the Japanese. But most of the sales are right here in the good ole USA. Yes, for the most part, it's all about 'reliving' your youth, or reconnecting with it in one small way. Sal Akbani says he feels like he's in the memory business--the good memories.
Wait, I need to wipe my mouth a bit....but still no '63 Plymouth Sport Fury with a 383 under the hood. 'Mike On America' will be in Kansas much of this week, we'll click our heels for you.
Make sure you add "Power Lunch" to your viewing schedule--'MOA' is there for now.
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