Classic Driver Dealer: Aston Martin of New England
Dumb Luck and Genius
When Stephen Serio says his Massachusetts-based business came about “by dumb luck”, he is not being entirely truthful. Fact is, it takes a special sort of mind to spot a gold-plated opportunity, which is what Serio did while on holiday in Europe in the mid-1980s.
“I noticed how much more expensive classic cars were in Europe – in particular, Aston Martins. At the time, if a car was $4000 in the USA, it was £4000 Sterling in London. Very few Americans understood Astons; the cars had been brought over here very cheaply and, in many cases, were left to sit unloved in garages around the country. I thought, why not start a pipeline of rhd cars back to the UK?”
And that’s exactly what he did. “They were simpler times, then, just before the first classic car boom. By the time the boom hit, I had a supply of Astons in the works.” So perhaps there was a tiny bit of luck involved, after all.
Starting his first garage in 1987, Serio became a Lotus dealer in 1991 and an Aston dealer in 1996. Today, Aston Martin of New England and Lotus Motorsports, Inc. has a staff of 10 and 35,000sqft of premises, combining showroom, workshop and storage. There are three parts to the business: “We’re franchise dealers for Aston Martin and Lotus, as well as being the largest and oldest Aston Martin Heritage dealer in the USA. My own, day-to-day job, however, is running the classic car end of things.”
The company’s website is a wonderful mix of informal banter and erudite summaries of the Aston Martin and Lotus models on sale. And then there are all the classics. Take a look – it’s worth it – not least because each advert is accompanied by such unusually high-quality photographs. I realised why, when Stephen Serio told me that he was originally trained as a professional photographer. With such excellent shots of the exterior and the interior of each car, you can almost make the buying decision there and then.
“In the last few months, we’ve sold a BMW 507, 289 street Cobra, 330GTC, 275GTS, 356 Convertible D, 300SL Gullwing and Roadster, Aston DB6... and our current inventory runs from the sublime to the ridiculous. We have a tricked-out 1947 Dodge Power Wagon that will do 85mph and is fitted with AC and satellite radio. We have a 1957 hot-rodded Chevy Nomad, a 1955 Gullwing, two 300SL disc-braked Roadsters, a Fiat 600 Abarth, 275GTB Ferrari and so on. The most interesting car in stock (but it’s already sold) is a Shelby Team Cobra. This was the first Cobra to win a race for Shelby, as a 260-engined car, and then it was the first to be fitted with a 289 engine.”
I asked Serio what, other than the huge range of classics available, makes his business stand out from the crowd. “Well, the classic car collector nationally is drawn to us for new cars, too. We cater to folks and understand that a new Aston owner might also want a classic Aston – or Porsche or Ferrari. It’s rare to have married a classic business with a new car business and I think it gives our customer a sense of how much we really love what we sell and service.”
Serio is no less eager to spot a new opportunity today than he was back in the 1980s and, while 98% of his customers are male, he’s very keen to “tap into the female demographic of successful and passionate about cars. I think that market has huge potential for growth.”
But that’s not the only growth area he has his eye on. “With the US dollar at a cyclical low, we are exporting to all corners of the planet. We just did our first deal with Poland and our first with Lebanon. There is money everywhere at the moment; and new money wants old cars the way old money wants old cars.”
Please click HERE to see all the Aston Martin of New England cars for sale in the Classic Driver car database.
Text: Charis Whitcombe
Photos: Aston Martin of New England
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