With 350 cars in his inventory at any time, Alex Manos of Beverly Hills Car Club in Los Angeles runs one of the larger collector car dealerships in the hobby. Manos began buying and selling cars from his garage around 2000 and by 2009, selling cars was a full-time business complete with a showroom. He says the specialty of Beverly Hills Car Club is European models and American Classic cars.
Today, the dealership’s inventory ranges from $5000 project cars to mint exotics priced in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and his clientele is just as diverse. Celebrities and “civilians” alike are counted among the customers who buy and sell cars to Beverly Hills Car Club.
We talked with Manos about the challenges brought on in the business of selling old cars during 2020 and what he looks forward to in 2021:
Old Cars: How would you describe business overall in 2020?
Alex Manos: 2020 has been a tough and unique year for everybody including the Beverly Hills Car Club and myself, so having 350 cars in stock in the middle of March, when the country and the world shut down, was a scary time. But fortunate enough for my stubbornness and willingness to fight through it, I have been working seven days a week, morning ’til night, to make sure that we were victorious at the end. I am not saying we are at the end or we passed through the coronavirus, but March and April were very tough months. By June, July, everything started picking up. People were at home and what we noticed were people were quarantining and they wanted to quarantine with their car. What better thing than with a car? Now you can quarantine in your own bubble and go for a drive and enjoy the summer quarantined away from everybody.
So we have really actually adapted to the new times, at least what we’re living in today and made them normal as they can be. We have been buying cars on a daily basis nationwide, even with the coronavirus existing.
OC: What changes to your business did you have to make in 2020?
Alex Manos: Most of the time, I would buy the car over the phone, so that also gave people comfort in being able to sell their car while being safe and out of too much public interaction or human interaction.
We have really been working with our [buying] clients on a deeper level than we would normally. We give complete run downs of the cars, driving imported clients, if necessary; Facetiming with the client, doing proper run-down videos of the cars; giving them a full understanding of the vehicle even though they are a ways away. Then getting the car to their doorstep with as little interaction as possible to keep up safety.
OC: Assuming the pandemic is over in 2021, what changes from 2020 do you expect to keep?
Alex Manos: Definitely the things that have helped our clients be more comfortable, and everything that has helped us be stronger through these times we are going to continue to use and implement and anything we did before, we are going to try to combine it all together. We are going to come out of this pandemic stronger than ever.
People have been really investing heavily into classic cars during the pandemic, because classic cars are a hard asset. With everything going on with the stock market, people are getting alarmed and concerned.
OC: Did your customer base change in 2020 and if so, how?
Alex Manos: We saw a lot of people in 2020 that I guess were first-time buyers of a classic car. There were a lot of people like, ‘Hey, I think life is short, I want to get the classic car I want,’ and it’s the perfect time with the stock market going down. They are buying for enjoyment but also as a solid investment. If somebody came out of the hospital and overcame a sickness, they are going to knock something off their bucket list, now is the time. We felt like a lot of those people were coming out of the woodwork.
OC: How did your customers’ expectations change in 2020? Were they looking for something different?
Alex Manos: In March and April, it was pretty quiet and then as people got more comfortable with learning how to live with the virus, that is when we saw a lot of people coming out and saying, ‘Hey, I have always wanted a Mercedes 190SL and now is the time.’
OC: What vehicles were customers looking for in 2020?
Alex Manos: Porsches are hot, Mercedes, and then all of these people looking for American Classics — I am referring to ’50s and ’60s and early-’70s Cadillacs, Mustangs and T-Birds.
OC: What vehicles were customers looking to sell in 2020?
Alex Manos: There wasn’t a particular make or model, but in March, April, May, it was very, very slow. They just weren’t enthusiastic, but now things are back to as normal as they can be.
OC: Have your demographics changed over the course of the year?
Alex Manos: There were a lot of people that we didn’t really entertain before. Younger people and also people in the midlife area wanting to get their dream in case they didn’t have another chance to.
OC: What was the most important aspect people are looking for in a car?
Alex Manos: I think every buyer was different. There was a buyer that wanted to quarantine inside the car, literally, and there were the buyers that wanted to quarantine in the garage, fixing their car — they were more do-it-themselves people.
OC: What types of cars are you looking to buy for your dealership?
Alex Manos: We are always looking for European sports cars in any condition. So we buy European sports cars in any condition... and interesting finds and it’s been that way for years.
OC: What did 2020 teach you from a business standpoint?
Alex Manos: There is no time like the present. I think that is what 2020 taught us. My father taught me when I was a young boy, ‘why do tomorrow what you can do today?’ And I think that is really the takeaway from this year. If there was a car you have been looking to buy, now is the time, and if you’ve been sitting on a car for a long time, now is the time to sell it. No one is going to be able to sell your car better than you. If you have been waiting for a classic car to buy, now is the time to pull the trigger and if you’ve been looking to sell a car, now is the time to pull the trigger because you don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring.
Beverly Hills Car Club
4576 1/2 Worth St.
Los Angeles, CA 90063
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