By PAM GEORGE
Special to Delaware Business Times
Jerry Seinfeld starts each episode of Netflix’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” driving a unique automobile. Long before he introduces his famous companion, he runs down the details about the car.
He drove a 1969 Jaguar XKE to pick up Sarah Silverman and a 1969 Lamborghini P400S Miura to fetch Chris Rock. “It’s incredibly masculine and incredibly feminine at the same time,” Seinfeld said of the Lamborghini.
Judging by some of the comedians’ delight, it is a thrill — even for a celebrity — to ride in Porsches, Jaguars and Ferraris. But if a new Bear, Delaware, business has its way, the experience won’t be limited to the rich and famous.
Pulse Dream Cars has created a club for those who long to drive an exotic automobile but can’t afford to own one. For an annual fee, club members receive four weeks of drive time, as well as club benefits. A 2012 Maserati GranTurismo S is already in the stable.
Businesses that rent luxury or exotic cars are not new. However, most follow a rent-by-the-day model, said Josh Thomas, who founded Pulse Dream Cars with his wife, Stefanie. Then, of course, there is leasing, which people use to drive a variety of makes and models.
“We’re launching a product that is somewhere in the middle,” said Thomas, who is turning his passion for exotic cars into a business. “It takes advantage of the sharing economy. People realize that you can make more practical decisions when you are sharing a product. It’s a different way of experiencing things and ‘owning’ things.”
Members will have access to all of the cars in the club’s collection. “Our vision is to bring a variety,” he said. “You’re having all of the fun without all of the hassles that come with it. You’re not paying the higher cost of ownership or for any maintenance.”
Similar clubs exist in major metropolitan areas, but they’re more expensive than Pulse Dream Cars, Thomas noted. “We can’t take credit for the core club idea, but we can take credit for bringing it to a smaller market and making it more affordable and accessible. That’s our mission.”
While future cars in the collection might include vintage models, the club will initially buy vehicles that are about 10 years old. Thomas prefers to use the word “exotic” to describe the cars rather than luxurious. Some of the automobiles wouldn’t meet today’s definition of luxury.
All are considered impractical by a spendthrift, who would get more bang for the buck from Mazda than a Maserati. But that’s not to say they don’t dream of owning the latter, which is decidedly more of an eye-catcher.
That head-turning quality might appeal to a business owner or executive who is looking to impress clients or use the car for marketing purposes. Members can attach removable decals or magnets to the car, Thomas said.
The company’s own marketing efforts include social media, which is an effective way to reach car enthusiast groups, he said. Every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., there is an open house at the club’s garage and clubhouse at 469 Carson Drive in Bear.
Anyone who’s interested can find out the details in a no-pressure environment, Thomas said.
While many prospective club members have been male, women have also expressed an interest. Thomas has been approached by retirees and young working professionals who are choosing this option over a second car.
Currently, Pulse Dream Cars is taking reservations for membership at $300 a piece. Once there are more cars, the annual dues — $6,600 — will kick into effect. Members get access to the vehicles for a total of four weeks of driving time.
The club membership appeals to Andy Sedar, who reserved his membership spot. “I can drive the cars of my dreams — cars that were on the posters I hung in my bedroom,” said the Brandywine Hundred resident, who drives a Honda Accord as his everyday car. “I never thought I’d be able to drive those cars let alone own them.”
Sedar, who’s participated in drag races and is a car show regular, said the club fee is reasonable. “This kind of thing doesn’t usually happen around Delaware.”
All members must meet pre-screening criteria, which includes a background check. They must be at least 23 years old and possess auto insurance with full coverage.
Founding members will help decide on the next few cars that the club will buy. Fulfilling their wishes will be a fun challenge, Thomas said. “We want our members to help us track them down and test drive them. We want them to be part of the experience.”
The Thomases are considering daily rentals in the future. For now, they’re focusing on the club portion of the business.
“We really want to create a club atmosphere that’s more than just driving,” Thomas said.