Free chicken with every Ferrari: Marco Island exotic car rental company offers novel pitch
You have to admit, the sign is eye-catching.
Outside the door to the Chevron station mini-mart at the corner of Collier Boulevard and Elkcam Circle, a hand-scrawled placard offers “Rent a Ferrari, get free chicken fingers.” And just to make the proposition more intriguing, there are indeed not one but two Ferrari two-seaters parked in the tight space around the pumps. Options are offered as well. Rent a Lamborghini, the sign says, and it comes with a six-pack of Corona or two packs of Marlboros, presumably not to be enjoyed while driving the car.
Perhaps the oddest thing about the odd pitch is that it’s for real. The cars and the placard are a marketing gimmick, designed to draw attention to Cris Nazarko’s luxury car rental business. In addition to the two Ferraris, an F-430 and a California model, Top Gear Exotics Rentals has a fleet of other high-end vehicles available to rent, when your Prius just isn’t right for making your entrance.
You can choose from a Rolls Royce Ghost, a Mercedes-Benz SLS 6.3 AMG convertible, a Lamborghini Gallardo, a 2016 Bentley Supersport – the newest of the offerings, and more, including a Mercedes Maybach model, “the best luxury you can get,” said Nazarko. Perhaps the car with the highest head-turning quotient is the McLaren 650S in lemon yellow, with gull-wing doors that open up. Driving that, you are going to get pulled over just so the cop can take a closer look at the vehicle.
The Ferrari F-430, with the steering wheel and just about everything else wrapped in red leather, fits like an Italian glove. You don’t so much get into it as put it on.
Nazarko opened Top Gear “about six months ago,” he said, supplementing his business as a painting contractor, which he has owned for years. He said that the “free chicken” offer has increased visibility for the cars, and led to some actual rentals.
The Top Gear website says that the “main rental requirements” are simply, “a valid driver’s license,” and “a major credit card.” Like the gearbox on a racecar, that credit is going to get a workout.
These cars are not cheap to rent – depending on factors including length of rental, and possibly the story you tell Nazarko, prices for the two Ferraris, for instance, are in the neighborhood of $690 to $750 per day. But on the plus side, they will deliver the car to your door. The company website boasts “we thrive to put the fun back in driving,” and if they can keep them rented at those rates, they will indeed thrive.
Victor Brown, who runs the carwash attached to the Chevron station, handles the details and detailing for the cars there, said placing the luxury cars at the station makes sense.
“We put them here to show them off,” he said. Station manager Zach Hamdan said that he and Nazarko were “standing around smoking cigarettes” when they came up with the offer. “It’s a fun thing.” And a disclaimer does stipulate the offer is only good between midnight and 5:30 a.m.
Nazarko guesstimates he has between a million and a million and a half dollars in his inventory of rolling stock. He got into the business, he said, because he was enthralled by the exotic vehicles, but since he has owned them, “I never drive them. I know it’s crazy, but I don’t drive these cars.”
When Brown handed him the keys to get into the Ferrari California for a photo, Nazarko fumbled around with where to put the key in, which is probably a common reaction for first-time drivers of the vehicle, but a little funny for the guy who owns it. His ride, said Nazarro, is a Chevy Avalanche pickup.
So if you have a few disposable dollars burning a hole in your pocket, and a hankering to feel the throaty roar of a performance car engine at your control, contact Top Gear Exotics Rental at 800-211-6816, or go online to topgearexoticsrental.com. If paying the rental makes money a little tight, and you can’t swing a fancy dinner, remember, the rental comes with free fried chicken. Just be sure to wipe your fingers off before you get behind the wheel.