Only in Miami: Why a Luxury Car Won't Cut It Anymore
by jon warech
Miami’s obsession with arriving in style is taking travel to new heights.
I ride the bus. Don’t tell anyone. Please. It’s important that no one finds out. I live in Miami Beach, where riding the bus is taboo. This isn’t New York City, where millionaires rub elbows (literally) with the homeless on public transportation and pat themselves on the back for being “real New Yorkers.” This is Miami Beach, where, much like on our golf courses, it’s not how you drive but how you arrive.
Take Justin Bieber, for example. When he was here in January, he could barely drive at all, according to police, who nabbed the pop tart for allegedly speeding while under the influence in a $200,000 Lamborghini Gallardo. Wherever he was going (in this case jail for the night), he was arriving in style. That car made headlines.
That’s Miami—style first. You can take an air-conditioned local bus in Miami Beach for 25 cents, or you can rent a DecoBike, where, for $4, you’ll be much hotter but look way cooler.
There’s also Segways, Vespas, Beach Cruisers, scooters, and mopeds—all carefully portraying a certain image, and mostly form over function. We drive restored Jeeps that took $75,000 to make “new” again, then break down on the I-95 (true story), convertibles without their tops that can’t be driven on rainy days, Porsches that can’t make it through flooding on Alton, and two-seaters even though there are three of us. Thinking green? It’s not easy being green in Miami. Unlike in Los Angeles, where every other car is a Prius (average base price of the 2014 model: $25,000, according to Kelley Blue Book), here we prefer the Tesla, an advanced, electronic luxury vehicle that even with a federal tax credit has a starting cost more than double that of the Prius.
But cost comes secondary in the Magic City. We fight to bring Uber (the town car alternative to taxis) to our city because, ugh, cabs, gross. We send our tourists who want to see both where Diddy lives and Versace was killed on Duck Tours—a Back to the Future-esque boat/bus contraption that goes on both land and sea—because it just looks cooler than those double-decker buses in every other city (although I have seen a few of those here now too). And we take out second mortgages on our homes to arrive at LIV nightclub at the Fontainebleau in something only Bieber should borrow.
In Miami, there’s a Lamborghini on every corner, and most of them have to be back to the dealership by morning. The arrival is the beginning to the great night that only this city can provide, and there is no way someone popping magnum bottles of Ace of Spades Champagne inside will be seen popping out of some stinky taxicab outside.
It’s a battle of bigwigs, one-upping from one car to the next, and with locals and tourists alike trying to outdo one another in the transportation game, what’s next? Helicopters landing outside of Prime 112? Jet packs taking tourists above and beyond the gridlock? “Renting ambulances is the new thing to avoid traffic,” says LIV’s David Grutman.
I’m not sure he’s kidding.
illustration by paul dickinson
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.