By Christopher A. Pape &
As an editor of a travel magazine in the Hamptons, I am no stranger to emails offering getaway trips. Without meaning to boast, what are usually rare opportunities are fairly commonplace in my professional life. This privilege, while thoroughly enjoyed, tends to raise the standards of even the most humble editor as we become increasingly difficult to please. We are a demanding breed, I admit. Any approval from our spoilt bunch should therefore be given the utmost respect, and it should, therefore, be taken with no pinch of salt when I wax lyrical over my trip to the Hamptons courtesy of Zipcar and Universal Auto Sports.
An email from Zipcar spoke of the chance to drive a Mini for the day, which may seem an obvious convenience, given that a quick trip to the Hamptons was high up on my immediate bucket list. However, this did not appeal to me as strongly as it maybe should have; I couldn’t help but imagine the hassle of registration and the inevitable mount of formalities that would need to be surmounted. Nonetheless, I decided –I confess with some reluctance- to accept the offer. My fears were wholly misplaced. There was no paperwork, no search for decade-old documents, and no reservation required; Zipcar clearly strives for all-round convenience. As you can imagine, the burnt orange Mini convertible was a perfect summer wagon, driving with the efficiency that has become synonymous with BMW and with a card key used to unlock the car.
I was asked to check out Universal Auto Sport for a prospective article and, being one of the aforementioned fastidious creatures, I requested a test-drive of one of their many exotic cars. While such an easy drive with such a distinguished and prestigious car may have been pleasing enough, I’m afraid we will never know as I swapped from the Mini to the 2004 Ferrari 360 spider. The test-drive was what you would expect; it goes without saying that a Ferrari experience does not come along every day, and this made for a great occasion. In truth, this is not what Universal Auto Sports is about; the test-drive affirmed that the reality matched its reputation, but the real essence of this place is to sell the cars and ensure that the vehicle is looked after in the Hamptons.
Universal Auto Sports stands today largely thanks to the late Count Roffredo Gaetani D'Aragona Lovatelli, who saved the business from extinction just over 10 years ago and instilled his vision of creating a car dealership that fosters a passion for fine cars and treats its clients like family; which is evident from the slogan on their website ‘when you’re here…you’re family’. Since his untimely death in 2005, the dealership has striven to uphold his legacy and continue his work, and the staff there show absolutely no sign of letting up. They offer a personal touch to their service and it is people like them that make you wonder how the widespread stereotype of car salesmen being con men ever became so widespread. When you buy an automobile from here, they will be its Hamptons guardians. That is to say that so long as it is in the Hamptons and you are not, they will give it a designated spot or, if you wish, bring it to you, wherever you may be. Your car will be cared for by master technicians like Luigi Scala and Joseph Latino, and they use factory-approved OEM parts, so they look after your vehicle as if it were their own. Their inventory reads like a collection of Bond cars, from Aston Martins and Rolls Royces to Lamborghinis and Maseratis, there isn’t much that you can’t find here.
Transportation has long since been much more than just getting from A to B, and nowhere else is this more evident than at Universal Auto Sports. The service here and at Zipcar welcomes you to experience the most glorified of transportation without much effort on your part. I realized that while I got a great taste of the highest of high-lives, it was nothing more than just that – a taste. As a Hamptons resident, you can make this taste an everyday lifestyle; and here was me thinking I’m the spoilt one!