Inside a nearly empty cabin on the short jaunt from Los Angeles to San Francisco, I dozed slightly, enough to drift into a dream, a series of abrupt visions conjured up by a subconscious desire to fly: vivid flashes of reds, glinting in the sun, mountainous hills, and a seascape spanned by majestic bridges. I woke up; San Francisco loomed high above the ocean as the plane slid in for a landing. On a trip like this, all I could think about was getting behind the wheel of a fast car on the streets of San Francisco. Who wouldn't?
What if we were to tell you that you could have all of the fun and excitement of driving, say, a Maserati, but without being stuck with the Maserati price tag? How about a Ferrari, a Porsche, a Lotus, or a Mercedes? Crazy, you say? You might be surprised. In fact, you'd better sit down. Here, how does the plush leather of a 355 Spyder feel? Nice, huh? You want to take it out? It's yours, but don't worry, your life savings is very much intact.
We're about to shatter the much-heralded platitudes about buying an exotic car, as exhilarating as it all might seem at first. Here it is: Just say no. There are alternatives, viable, exciting, and rewarding alternatives to spending a hundred grand on a car you'll worry more about than your own children. Don't be that guy; paying sticker price for an exotic car you can afford to drive only on the weekends is for suckers, fools, and their money, especially when financing this new car involves more than five zeroes (that's to the left of the decimal point), a major upheaval in your personal investment strategies, and a possible drag-down fight with the more stubborn half of your marriage who usually doesn't understand that a car is more than just transportation-merely a means from Point A to B-and a platform on which to pile bags of groceries. Have you ever seen a Lamborghini in a grocery story parking lot? It's absurd.
That's exactly what Torbin Fuller first thought, as the initial giddiness of his Ferrari purchase began to wear off a few years ago, and what was left was the fear of dings and dents in public parking lots, the ridiculous insurance rates, the winter storage fees, the constant maintenance, upkeep, and typical repairs. When was there time to enjoy the purchase? In traffic on the way to work? It's like keeping a thoroughbred tethered to the starting gate, but nobody thinks of those things when the siren song of a finely tuned exhaust converts their life savings into instant debt as soon as they sign the documents at the dealer. All they can think about is getting that car out on an open road, feeling the gears under their hand, the wheels on the road, the wind in their hair, and the exhaust notes like a symphony in their ears.
As a mild-mannered Notre Dame graduate languishing in the financial department of Ford Motor Company in Michigan, Fuller was a man with a penchant for pricey wheels, but he felt there had to be a better way to enjoy several vastly different cars at the same time without going mindlessly broke or ending up in jail for grand theft auto. There was a way and he found it. After relocating to the warmer climates of San Francisco in early Spring 2003, Fuller and business partner Dan Fleming put together Club Sportiva, an outlet for those who have as much a passion for beautiful automobiles as they do for driving them. Long-time member of the club, Dr. Rick Noodleman, a dermatologist from San Jose, makes a point against ownership of any kind of exotic car: "It is nice to experience the vehicles on an ownership level, but I'm only going to drive them on Saturday or Sunday, and they have to take up space in my garage. With the club cars, I don't have to do any maintenance on them, ever. Plus, you get bored with one car, and here you get to drive an array of cars, some period, some high-horsepower, and there's no big commitment; it's easy in, easy out."