NEW YORK — When was the last time you heard anyone talk about how much they love their job?
It’s not usually the kind of thing you'll hear at happy hour, because for most people, a job is just that: a job. But what if work were more like “play"? Instead of living for the weekend, you’d live for Monday mornings.
There are people who feel that way, like the guys who run Classic Car Club Manhattan, a garage filled with the kinds of cars most people can only fantasize about.
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Imagine growing up a motorhead - a car nut - and ending up with a full-time job buying the sexiest cars in the world with other people’s money and getting to drive them whenever you want. That’s what Michale Prichinello and Zac Moseley get to do, all day, every day.
"We drive all the greatest cars,” said Prichinello. “We get to buy what we like. We get to live our dream.”
Prichinello and Moseley run what amounts to a rental car agency on steroids. Instead of paying $100 a day to drive a Ford Taurus, the club’s 300-plus members pay $10,000 to $15,000 a year for access to a $4 million fleet of the world’s coolest cars – everything from the iconic 1966 fastback Mustang to a 1955 Porsche 550 Spider, made famous by James Dean, who died in one at great speed.
“When we first started off selecting cars, Zac and I decided we should probably have every car we’ve had as a poster on our wall as a kid,” said Prichinello. “That’s a really good starting point.”
Prichinello and Moseley met through the Classic Car Club of London. The company wanted to open a branch in New York and hired Prichinello to help. He ran a marketing company and still does.
Moseley, who was working as an architectural lighting designer at the time, caught an in-flight video about the car club on his way home from a meeting in London.
“I said, ‘That is a great idea,’” said Moseley. “It’s got to happen in New York, and when it does I have to be involved. So I called the guys up.”
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So in 2004, Classic Car Club Manhattan – the first of its kind in the U.S. - was born. Prichinello and Moseley own their business, working there full-time-plus, and are in the process of securing worldwide rights to the concept, with more clubs planned for Miami and Los Angeles.
Members like Christian Sullivan, an entrepreneur CNBC caught up with at the club’s in-house bar, love the freedom the club buys them.
“I feel pretty lucky and fortunate that I get to have fun like this,” he said. “And I don’t actually have to look after the car, and I don’t have to park it. The best feeling actually about driving these expensive cars is that I get to give the keys back and walk away.”
The business plan has worked out well for the car guys too, which is not to say the road has been obstacle-free.
“The hard part was, we’re the first people to do this in America,” said Prichinello. “So when you try to go to an insurance company, explain that you’re going to give a group of people really high-powered, expensive cars, that’s a problem.”
They eventually got a policy, which runs $200,000 a year. Rent for the garage, which houses 50-plus cars, costs $26,000. They keep another garage and fleet uptown. Other realities of running the club include speeding tickets, which members have to cover themselves, and the occasional accident. At first it was tough to watch members drive off in the club’s cars.
“The first car that went out was a ’65 Ford Mustang convertible,” said Prichinello. “And the member took off, and me and Zac and our mechanic just sat there and we watched it go around the corner. And it was literally like your daughter going out on her first date.”
Moseley said the worst phone call they ever got was when their Ferrari crashed, caught fire and burned to the ground.
“It was, at the time, the most expensive car we had ever bought,” he said. “We only had it on the road for about two weeks so everyone was chomping at the bit to drive that car. And it was totally gone: nothing left of it."
The driver was OK. His membership in the club wasn’t. (He was thrown out.)
Despite the occasional mishap, Prichinello and Moseley are happier now than they were in their previous careers. What’s not to like about a job that puts them in the cars they’ve loved since they were kids?
For Prichinello, it all started on a family road trip, when they happened to make a pit stop in a town hosting a rare car show.
“My mom had me in some red pants and red-and-white striped shirt, so I look like a maniac,” he said. “And I was standing in front of a 1972 Daytona Ferrari convertible. And that was it for me. I have a photographic memory of my very first day I became a car guy.”
Moseley said he was introduced to classic cars by this father, “a greaser in the '60s.”
“He and his buddies all had fast cars and drag-raced each other, literally, until one of them died in a drag race,” he said. “And then they sold all their fast cars and bought station wagons for the families they were starting.”
The selection of cars changes constantly, and Prichinello and Moseley don’t just go after the makes and models you might expect. Their latest fixation is, of all things, a 1969 Ford Bronco. So on a sweltering summer afternoon, the classic car guys took a spin in their $200,000 Lamborghini Gallardo to look at the $18,000 Bronco, being sold by a private owner in New Jersey. Sometimes, it’s not the dollar value, but the coolness factor.
The Classic Car Club also has a thriving social scene, populated by a glamorous clientele. While Prichinello and Moseley may not be getting quite as rich as their members, they are making a living.
While the car guys have fun car shopping, they’re constantly thinking up exciting adventures for their members, from skeet shooting to road rallies. At a recent outing to New Jersey Motor Sports Park outside Atlantic City, club members Richard Thorne and Arun Master, were playing hooky from their jobs.
“I could marry that car,” said Master. “I might propose later today.
But for the owners of the Classic Car Club, it was just another good day at work. And another reason to look forward to Monday morning.
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