Self-proclaimed gearhead and multiple Porsche owner James Gassel has been a member of the club for the past two years. He currently owns a '62 race-prepped Porsche 356 and a (993) 911 C4S, but the attraction to the club was variety. "While I'm lucky to have two great cars, I couldn't afford to have all of those cars at one time. As well, I like their selection," Gassel says. "I like the fantasy of being able to drive a 308 or the Jaguar. It is really fun to be able to drive a whole bunch of different cars." He has spent time in the Ferrari 360, the Lotus Esprit, and a Mercedes S430. What could be better than that if you're a motorhead?
It's not just about the cars, we soon discovered, and a lot of the general membership feel the same way. It is a social outlet for busy people who aren't involved in too many civic activities. Brad Johnson, director of membership and business development, helps organize many of the social events that stands Club Sportiva apart from just a holding house for expensive rental cars. "We have regular poker nights, driving tours to wineries, and joint events with other car clubs," he says. In fact, they offer members-only dinners at various restaurants in the city, scotch and cigar nights, and a weekend at the race tracks like The Grand Prix of Nations at Laguna Seca or private track time in F1 cars in Las Vegas. Gassel, an advertising executive who splits his time between Chicago and San Francisco, adds, "They are interesting people to meet, a whole new access of social networking. It has been nice to meet people at the social events, to make new friends who are as into cars as we are."
Pausing for a few photos underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, the Morgan Plus 8 roadster attracted a lot of attention, much more than the Maserati, and several people had their pictures taken with the cars. One of the benefits of membership that Fuller or Johnson didn't explain, as they want the members to experience it for themselves, is that sense of accomplishment, the kind of invalidated success only a Ferrari can offer, vicariously as it was for us. I noticed it in the eyes of passersby on a tour bus who took pictures of the cars and shouted comments. The whole time I was thinking, eight people died building the bridge behind us and they're taking pictures of a car with marvel. Now that's power.
We learn at a young age that sharing is one of the most humane ways to treat our fellow schoolmates, and that letting go of personal property so that others can use it without guilt or strings is a pleasure unsurpassed by the bliss of ownership itself. Yeah, right. Say that to the owner of a Lamborghini who spent more on his house than the Gross National Product of some third-world countries as he's handing his keys over to near strangers so they can unleash the horsepower and torque on an unsuspecting machine of beauty and performance. Torbin Fuller and Club Sportiva do exactly that each and every day.
Where will it go from here? Fuller is looking to expand to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, each time keeping the location accessible to the region's best attributes, at least for a car enthusiast: scenic drives and gorgeous destinations.
Please, remember to share; seat time in a Ferrari might depend on it.