Driving toward Beverley Hills, the landscape and the tone of the neighborhood changes visibly as you move from a wealthy to a seriously wealthy one. This shows in many ways, some subtle, others less so. Along the generously wide avenues off Sunset Boulevard, the residences become larger, the distance between each more generous, and their larger lawns are better manicured. It is no surprise that the entry-level price tag for a house on one of these leafy streets is in the $10 million range.
The cars in their driveways are also more expensive, and everyday cars like the Mercedes E-Classes seen in front of the houses a few miles down the road give way to S-Classes here.
And it is not just new cars on show here either. We first clocked a gorgeous silver 1960 Ferrari 250GT SWB going the other way, and then a mile down the road, a yellow Lamborghini Murciélago Roadster posing outside a swish looking street café. Driving past the café again two hours later there was a similar car in white, and a silver Porsche Carrera GT had joined the sidewalk supercar show.
The sight of these Italian exotica certainly set the tone for my day, as we had a date with a very special Lamborghini Murciélago, one that would certainly make the heart of any car enthusiast beat a whole lot faster.
Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Malibu and the surrounding areas as far out as Pasadena are the residential mecca for movie, TV and sports personalities and those who made their big money in commerce among those professions. Halfway down nearby Sunset Boulevard, Platinum Motorsport’s premises are pretty prominent so there’s little chance you’ll miss them. They have a satellite showroom close by on Melrose Avenue for good measure.
Founded in 1997 by brothers George and Jack Keshishyan, this high-end automotive boutique quickly made a name for itself by supplying exclusive cars to the rich and famous in L.A. and beyond. Today, this thriving business has become the realization of theirs and many customers’ dreams, and the roll call of big names on their client list is a long one that stretches as far afield as the Middle East.
“We started off in 1997 with the idea of a one-stop company for wealthy car enthusiasts,” Jack explained. “A place they could come to realize their personal automotive vision. While there are some really good companies here in L.A. that customize American cars, we set out to offer a bespoke automotive haute couture service for high-end European cars from Mercedes to Rolls-Royce.”
Along the way, Platinum branched out into high-end car rental as well, while their collision repair center specializes in returning high-end and exotic cars to pristine condition should their owners make an error of judgment.
Repairing such cars to as-new condition requires a very high level of expertise. Most of these skills are also pertinent to the perfect marriage of a standard factory car with the aftermarket body styling additions that are part and parcel of Platinum’s customization program.
“The Bentley GT in both coupe and GTC form is a very popular car with our clients,” Keshishyan explains. “While we have built many of these cars, I am proud to say that no two are ever alike. We know that the thing wealthy people hate the most is seeing another car exactly the same as theirs, especially in this relatively small community. So we ensure that if we build two white widebody GTs, the interior trim or wheel design is always different.”
Reaching a decision on the final specification for a car can be either a quick process or a long, drawn-out one, it all depends on the client. “Sometimes a client knows exactly what he or she wants and all we have to do is sign off paint and trim samples,” Keshishyan says. “The reverse is true with clients who want something unique but do not actually have a concept in mind. Then we have to show them photographs of past work, and run through the possibilities.
“That is why I like to sit down with a new client over a drink to try and establish what they are after. While this helps me point them in the right direction, I have to be careful that the end result is what they really want, and not what I think they should have!”
Looking at their online photo gallery, you could reach the conclusion that they only build “bling,” as even the stateliest car, a white Rolls-Royce Phantom, has chromed 24-inch wheels.
But you only have to look at Jack’s own Lamborghini Murciélago to see that the man himself has relatively subtle taste. Walking around the car, our interest piques as we clock the changes wrought to this spectacular member of the supercar royal family.
This starts with the military matte-gray paintwork, the exact same shade made famous by the Lamborghini Reventón. Platinum’s new carbon-fiber front section gives the Lambo an even more aggressive visage that certainly matches that of its rare cousin. The lower part of this new front is left in lacquered carbon, as are the huge air intakes in front of the rear wheel arches and the all-new rear section with its race-style underbody diffuser. Similar to the one on the LP670-4 SuperVeloce, this new rear is topped off by a ducktail central spoiler that looks a lot less pretentious than the race car wing on the factory SuperVeloce Aeropack.
We’ve seen some pretty shoddy work on modified exotics, even in Germany, but we’re happy to say that the paintwork and fit and finish on the Platinum Motorsport Murciélago, and indeed of all the other cars in the shop, was a treat for detail freaks like us. The alloy wheels are Platinum Motorsport’s own design, are 19 inches in diameter and shod with Pirelli P Zero Nero rubber.
“I specified the offsets of these wheels in such a way that the fronts appear fairly flush, but the rears have a really deep-dished look. This increases their visual contrast for maximum effect,” Keshishyan says.
The 6.2-liter engine received a power boost from a custom ECU software upgrade that alters the valve timing, ignition and fuelling. The 60-hp increase enables the Platinum car to match the output of the 6.5-liter LP640.
We’ve seen some pretty extrovert interiors in customized Lamborghinis over the years, so the interior of Jack’s car is a breath of fresh air. “I used my favorite materials here: leather and Alcantara,” he says. “But I thought long and hard over how I could make a pattern on the leather that would be subtle and yet really stand out.”
The Alcantara, with contrasting white stitching on the sills, central tunnel and armrest, was the easy part. Much harder to achieve was the piece de resistance of the design, the patterned row of white dots that adorns the leather part of the seats and carpet mats, as well as the Alcantara on the central armrest.
“My trimmer punched the hole pattern in the black leather and then placed a very thin layer of white leather underneath,” Keshishyan explains. “The end result is very effective, and always has people scratching their heads over how we achieved this look.”
Far less obvious at a glance is the audiophile’s sound system that matches the exclusive level of this car. The most obvious sign of hardware is in the front luggage bay where the trademark shiny black McIntosh power amplifier with its blue illuminated power meters and gold lettering takes center stage.
Back in the cabin, the head unit has a big screen with sat-nav function, while the pre-amp and other electronics are carefully concealed. The speaker system is simple but effective, and consists of mid-range speakers and tweeters beautifully integrated into the doors, underpinned by a 15-inch JL subwoofer in a flush-fitting cabinet built into the bulkhead behind the passenger seat.
As impressive as this exotic audio system is, the deep bellow of the V12 provides the real soundtrack for this car. It also confirmed our long-held belief that V12-engined Lamborghinis deliver a sense of occasion that their V10-engined siblings can simply never match.
As we merged into traffic on Sunset, heading east, the Lambo felt like a caged animal waiting to be let off its leash. The brutal punch of its fat torque curve is the forte of this motor, and it responds to even the smallest of throttle openings with an urgency that belies the car’s 3,700-pound weight. As this is an original Murciélago with a manual gearbox, it would be purgatory to get stuck in rush hour traffic. Luckily, traffic is relatively thin this Saturday afternoon, and we’re heading out of town.
On the open road now, and with its vital fluids fully warmed through, the Murciélago delivers its knockout punch with gusto. This is a big, wide car, but American roads are wide, and where you have to be circumspect on narrower European roads, the big Lambo is in its element here.
The structural rigidity conferred by the spaceframe chassis is still impressive all these years on, and the firm suspension easily copes with the bumps and lumps on the tarmac. Even on the eve of its replacement, the Murciélago is still a mighty force to be reckoned with.
The only real threat in this environment is the California Highway Patrol, who seem to think that cars like this are speeding even when they’re standing still.
We’re not big fans of modified Lamborghinis only because we’ve seen so many badly executed ones before. But we really took to the Platinum Motorsport Murciélago because it is as dramatic—yet subtle—as such a car can ever be, and the quality of workmanship is absolutely top-notch. It is the perfect advertisement for what this family-run enthusiast company can do.
Platinum Motorsport Lamborghini Murciélago
Longitudinal mid-mounted, all-wheel drive
6.2-liter V12, dohc, 48-valve. Custom ECU software re-map
Wheels and Tires
Platinum Motorsport custom alloys, 8.5x19 (f), 12x19 (r) Pirelli P Zero Nero, 235/35 (f), 345/25 (r)
Carbon front section with lacquered carbon brake inlets, carbon air intakes, carbon rear underbody diffuser, carbon wing
Custom Alcantara with contrasting white stitching, custom perforated leather inserts and floor mats, custom integrated audio w/ McIntosh amplifier in front boot, JL Audio subwoofer in rear bulkhead
Peak Power: 640 hp (est.)