The front of a few dozen glossy convertibles in the showroom is a dark gray Porsche 911. Asking price 89,950 euros. This model is going very fast, says Jack Driessen. “A Porsche is a childhood dream for every man, well, for a lot of people.”
Driessen is the owner of Cabrioland, with two showrooms and garages in Binckhorst in The Hague. It is an “extreme madhouse,” he says. Just as bad as the years before the financial crisis. “Then the trees also grew almost to the sky. Same as now.”
Something is striking about the revival of the economy: the market for convertibles is thriving. Definitely the one from occasions, second-hand cars. In the first half of this year, for example, Dutch companies had already sold twelve hundred convertibles more than in the same period a year earlier, according to figures from industry association Bovag.
Back to the Porsche. A beautiful car, Driessen thinks. The streamline. The classic look. The quality of the materials. That typical deep roar of the engine. “When you close a door…” POF. “Yeah, that’s just a Porsche. You hear that right away.”
Driessen sells used cars from 20,000 euros. With outliers: “I just sold one of one and a half tons. But especially very expensive cars are hard to come by now.”
When corona raged through the Netherlands at its most violent in March last year, it also became quiet in the showrooms of Driessen. Sales fell by 80 percent. “People canceled appointments. They didn’t dare come anymore,” says Driessen. He panicked for a moment. What’s going to happen here.”
Test drives at home
Cabrioland started offering test drives at home. For example, an Alfa Romeo Spider was driven to Eindhoven. And a Range Rover to Amsterdam.
But it ended with a few home visits. “After about a month or so, everything started to get going again,” says Driessen.
Many customers turned out not to be vulnerable to the crisis. Many doctors, civil-law notaries and lawyers enter Cabrioland. It often goes through. A lawyer sends another lawyer, someone from the hospital sends a colleague.
He did hear it once that customers were afraid of the economic consequences of Covid-19. “For example, I have a customer with tanning salons who has bought about twenty cars from us,” says Driessen. “He normally changes about every two years. Not this year. Take it easy.”
Now, in early summer, it is busier than ever. “People couldn’t spend their money on luxury travel, on restaurants. They have it lying around and want to enjoy it.”
What matters is that some customers still avoid the plane. A country can just change from code yellow to orange again. They are more flexible by car. Driessen now also sells many four-seat convertibles, „because people want to travel. They take the car to the south of France, or Italy. Have a nice tour”.
“I come for the Mercedes,” says Rob Schaart, a customer, when he enters the store. Driessen: “I’m coming. Would you like a cup of coffee?”
Schaart, a real estate agent in The Hague, has suffered little from the corona crisis. “Selling houses is not the problem now.” At the moment he has a house for sale for 1.3 million euros.
The broker now drives a Porsche convertible from 2001. „I just want to innovate a bit. And my convertible has a fabric hood, which is burglar-proof. You can safely leave these on the street, you see.”
Driessen extensively praises the Mercedes. He points to the thick bumpers and the big rims. “Yes, yes, so a bit of ostentation”, says Schaart. “Yes, exactly, yes.”
Scissors let it sink in for a while. On the way back, the men pass the almost one-ton Porsche. “I’d rather take this with me,” laughs Schaart. Driessen: “That’s possible!”
Later in the afternoon, Driessen sits at the computer, where he can usually be found when there are no customers in the business. He is looking for used cars to import. “We have an employee who drives a truck through Germany and inspects it.” And negotiate? “In principle yes, but in general you don’t get much done with Germans.”
Driessen shows on the Cabrioland website how fast it can go. He just sold an Audi A5, while there weren’t even any pictures of it online. “My colleague was at the car in Germany and texted a few photos to an interested customer. As soon as the car got here, they were at the door. They walked around the car and it was sold.”
Driessen points to a Porsche 911 of one and a half tons on the screen. “Three customers had shown interest in this. The first one I called happened to be nearby. The car was sold within half an hour.”
He would ‘love to buy more cars like this’, says Driessen. “But it’s almost impossible to get to now. Sometimes I search for two or three days without finding anything.”