By Kim Fernandez, CAE

The LaFerrari was designed to be the Italian car company’s definitive, ultimate model. It was their first hybrid and their last mid-mounted 12 cylinder, roaring with 949 horsepower while saving 40 percent fuel consumption, zero to 60 in 2.4 seconds. Only 499 were made between 2013 and 2016, all sold by invitation to owners who largely remain anonymous, and most never driven to this day beyond contract-required service miles.

To my college-age car fanatic, it is, as Joe Pesci once said, the silver tuna—as the company intended, the ultimate hypercar, the most elusive, the one car guys chase a glimpse of for years. When one popped up at the dealer about 45 minutes from our house and somehow hung around until his on-campus summer project ended, there was no question about it: We were going.

We’ve been to high-end dealers to see other cars before and the drill is generally the same: Park my Subaru next to a wall of glass at the side and spend an hour taking photos, talking about every nuance of the cars, and being soundly ignored, generally with a downward facing, slightly annoyed sniff, by the designer-suited staff.

Ferrari was different. Same wall of glass, same Subaru, same young man and dopey mom, but a coiffed salesperson put a little hop in his step to open the door for us and smiled and replied, “Of course, my pleasure,” when I thanked him. Every person there greeted us when they walked by, including the service staff when we snuck back to see what treasure was on the lifts that day. One salesperson even stepped to the side of the steps leading up to the lofted office level to let us go first when we ran up to get photos of the beast from above, and nobody said a word when we reached a camera over the velvet rope to get a better shot of the bright red silver tuna’s black, carbon fiber logo—or when we peered inside the five other 30-year mortgage-priced cars in the room.

The LaFerrari the kid finally saw has 100 miles on its glass-enclosed engine and shines for days. It originally sold for just more than $1 million and is currently priced at $3.5. Someone will buy it and stash it away in a garage as an investment but it won’t be anyone remotely like us. And it didn’t matter. We were treated like customers—valued ones. It was, honestly, shocking in the very best way.

I am replacing “the Nordstrom of customer service” in my own vernacular. From here on out, it’s the Ferrari of customer service, for going above and beyond when they clearly got nothing out of it and there was zero return. I’ll remember that a lot longer than what cars we saw that day, and hope it sunk into the college kid’s head a little bit along with the thrill of finally catching way more than a glimpse of his elusive prize. It’s a lesson that’ll serve him well.

Kim Fernandez, CAE, is IPMI’s director of publications. This was published in the September 2021 issue of Parking & Mobility magazine, free to all IPMI members.