Brandon Saszi recalls the first time he saw a Lamborghini in metro Atlanta, back in the 1980s, when the northern suburbs were less Real Housewives and a little more Podunk. As a 6-year-old Hot Wheels fanatic at the time, Saszi was traveling with his mom on Johnson Ferry Road when he spotted a red Lamborghini Countach, the exotic, angular model Leonardo DiCaprio had so much trouble exiting in The Wolf of Wall Street. Seeing a car like that in pre-Olympics Atlanta was an event, and young Saszi went bananas.
“How can anybody drive that thing?” Saszi’s mom said, behind the wheel. “It’s so low.”
“Mom,” replied the boy, “you just don’t get it!”
Fast forward 35 years, and Saszi has worked his way up from a teenager washing cars and unclogging toilets at MotorCars of Atlanta to become a managing partner at the Sandy Springs dealership, a surprisingly nondescript facility (from the exterior, at least) on Roswell Road that puts Bruce Wayne’s stable of automobiles to shame. These days, Lamborghinis are much more prevalent on Atlanta roadways, especially following the 2019 debut of the Urus, a rip-roaring, four-seat SUV that’s actually practical, apart from the gas mileage (14 MPG, combined). MotorCars of Atlanta is the only authorized Lamborghini service and sales center between South Florida, Houston, Charlotte, and—following a store opening this month—Nashville. Sales of new and used Lamborghinis are 10 times what they were when the Atlanta dealership launched in 2003, and Saszi estimates 80 percent of new-model buyers are local. Demand is so strong they can’t keep a single new car in stock. “If Lamborghini called me tomorrow and said, ‘I’m sending you 10 new cars,’ I’d say, ‘Bring it on,’ and we’d have them sold in two days,” says Saszi. “We’ve got such a long [waiting] list of people.”
The Italian automaker’s bigwigs have taken notice of Atlanta’s Lambo appetite, and like the company’s logo, they’re bullish on a market that isn’t “just some Georgia town” anymore, as Saszi puts it. The Peach State’s TV and film industry, Atlanta’s flourishing business ecosystem, social media, and—ironic as it may sound—the Covid-19 pandemic have all been fuel for Lamborghini Atlanta, and the brand in general, which just notched its best first quarter in company history.
In early June, Lamborghini held a ribbon-cutting party in Sandy Springs to celebrate the redesigned and expanded showroom, which was part of a $13-million renovation for facilities that also showcase brands like Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, and Lotus, alongside supercars McLaren and Koenigsegg. The showroom nearly tripled its space to 52,000 square feet. Also added was an enclosed gallery with lifts for pre-owned cars, huge banks of windows, and a second-floor events space with a rooftop patio and firepits; up there, the dealership will invite a customer who’s taking delivery of, say, their new $2-million hyper-car to have a party for 15 friends and family members, with a famed chef like, say, Kevin Gillespie, hired to dish them all dinner for the night.
Beneath the party room, Lamborghini occupies a marquee, 3,556-square-foot corner slot befitting the dealership’s highest sales volume new-car brand. The retail space is meant to feel like a 360-degree immersion in Lamborghini’s aesthetic (or like walking into a cutting-edge modern house), with its sharp angles and polygons reflective of models such as the V12 Aventador or the new Huracán Tecnica, priced from $329,000. Another addition is a hands-on Ad Personam room, where clients can see a rainbow of caliper colors and feel a range of soft leathers and stitching patterns. At last month’s event, Andrea Baldi, Automobili Lamborghini America CEO, called the upgrades “a significant indication of how important this market is to the company.”
Atlanta’s tax-credit-boosted entertainment industry is doing the dealership favors, beyond the local A-listers and production company CEOs walking in the door now (alongside recording artists and athletes). The dealership has loaned cars for movies and TV—see: the Fast & Furious franchise and the therapist’s yellow McLaren in Ozark—and actors have bought Lamborghinis they’ve fallen for on set, Saszi says. (It’s also no accident the dealership is located midway between Buckhead and Alpharetta, where the bulk of buyers live.) With the explosion of social media, for better or worse, kids are dreaming of owning supercars like never before, as they can not only see a variety of models but hear them and watch them race—like living, breathing versions of the Ferrari Testarossa and Countach posters that adorned so many bedroom walls in decades past. Saszi says the Atlanta store will sell up to about 140 new and used Lamborghinis this year, about half of them the Urus SUVs, which start at around $260,000. One-off models can be priced well into the millions.
“Atlanta can be somewhat conservative, in that not everybody wants to be seen driving exotic cars, picking their kids up from school,” says Saszi. “Georgia’s very family-oriented, which is a great thing, but I think some of the stigma that comes with having a very showy, expensive car . . . I think some of that has changed a bit, especially with Urus. I think it’s gotten a much cleaner image.”
Which helps explain why there’s a two-year waiting list for that vehicle. Supply-and-demand in general is another. After a few months of pandemic-induced anxiety in 2020, when the phones weren’t ringing at the dealership and nobody was walking in, all of the cars in stock seemed to suddenly sell, and shuttered factories prompted a backlog that meant Lamborghini buyers couldn’t get what they wanted, no matter what.
“I really think the scarcity lit a fire under people—they wanted something and couldn’t get it,” says Saszi. “Before 2020, we would have 20 to 25 new cars in stock, and now we have zero. We’ve never been in any situation like this.”
During a recent tour of the overhauled facility, Saszi spoke of his love for his hometown and a sense of pride in seeing it mature into more of a playground for exotic cars, without being glitzy South Beach or Beverly Hills. Many Atlanta clients, he insists, are driven by passion—not pretension.
“A lot of the people that come to us, they’re not spending money to look rich,” he says. “It’s their dream, their gift to themselves, the reward—it’s what they’ve wanted since they were a kid, and they love it.”