As a part of our partner portrait series, we’ve recently visited Automotive Passion in Halstenbek, a suburb of Hamburg. Sebastian Böhnke, founder of Automotive Passion, invited us to the sacred halls of his company. Throughout his career, Sebastian has built a huge international network. He consults a lot of international collectors, some of them even exclusively, building and managing their collections. In this Elferspot partner portrait, you’ll find out, what sort of cool and weird stories can occur in the business of selling exclusive cars.
Sebastian, please tell us a bit about you at first! When did everything start before Automotive Passion and how did you discover your own passion for sports cars?
At a young age, I already developed a passion for super cars and classic cars. After my apprenticeship as a car salesman and a few years of work experience, I grabbed the chance to work for an extremely reputable dealership in southern Germany. Their main business was selling luxury cars and sports cars. Under the strict, but always sincere and fair supervision of its founder, my love for sports cars evolved even more during that time.
And where did the idea to found Automotive Passion come from?
That takes some explaining… During my time in southern Germany, I sold a lot of cars to Swiss customers. With a business partner – who I would still consider as a good friend today – I processed quite a lot of transactions. Some day, he told me, that it is his wish to found a sports car dealership in Switzerland and that I was his manager of choice. From an economical perspective, that business went pretty well. But after the Swiss government implemented CO2 penalty taxes for imported new vehicles, the sales margins contracted. Therefore, after almost three years, we decided to suspend the business.
After all these years in the southern part of Germany and foreign countries, I decided to do my family and my northern German heart a favor and moved back to the Hamburg area, where I founded Automotive Passion in 2013. The company has been growing constantly and to this day, we are responsible for car collections all around the world, some of them even exclusively. Generally speaking, I take all the necessary time to listen to my customers’ needs and their personal wishes.
Thanks to a widely spread, international network I have the possibility to get almost every limited car, that’s out there. My reputation lets me offer many cars with much shortened delivery time, with very interesting terms and conditions to my customers. One of our core marques is of course Porsche. I firmly believe, that I can only be successful in selling a product, if I’m convinced by it.
That sounds like you’ve always been a Porsche fan yourself?
Absolutely! The brand fascinated me since I was a litte boy. I’m especially in to the GT models, as their focus is the puristic driving experience. Of course, different manufacturers offer fantastic cars as well. But in case you want to take a production car to the race track, nothing beats a Porsche 911 GT2/GT3 or a Cayman GT4, that’s for sure. Maybe that passion for Porsche has led to success in selling their products and buildung up a good network, which is tremendously helpful, when you’ve got to get hold of very special cars for your customers.
Of course, different manufacturers offer fantastic cars as well, but in case you want to take a production car to the race track, nothing beats a Porsche 911 GT2/GT3 or a Cayman GT4, that’s for sure.
What would be your dream Porsche?
I think, I can’t hide my passion for performance here. For me, it’s therefore an easy pick: I would take a Porsche 991 GT2 RS home. As I intend to spend even more time on the race track in the near future, there is no substitute for a GT Porsche. Of course, a Porsche 993 has its charms as well, but if I had to make a decision for just one car, it would definitely be a GT2 RS.
Does Automotive Passion offer its services in different categories, restorations for example?
Oh yes, we’ve got a steadily growing network with dependable partners. The communication alone takes a lot of time in a restoration process. It requires a lot of knowledge and experience. To help our customers, we offer our expertise to handle the whole process. In doing so, we can guarantee, that all people who are involved are satisfied with the result in the end. And if our customers need help transporting their newly purchased vehicle, we can help them with that as well.
When dealing with luxury cars and super cars in general, you’ve surely experienced some pretty special customers, have you?
Without a doubt, there are pretty special customers in this segment. To give you an example: I sold a car, which was worth seven-figures to a collector, who hadn’t even seen the car in person before delivery. But there is one guy, that I remember very accurately. It was before Automotive Passion. He came in and I got the immediate impression, that his night was short and exhausting, to say the least. I asked him, what I could do for him. His short answer was: “Coffee, water, Aspirin.”
After I took care of his needs, he pointed a finger to some seriously expensive cars and said: “I’ll take that one, that one and that one!” We moved on through the dealership and after we finished our little tour, his list contained seven cars, that he wanted to buy. The whole situation was so bizarre, that I wasn’t entirely sure, if his intention was just impressing his attractive companion. But as customer is king, I prepared the contracts. These were signed by the end of the day and the cars were even delivered afterwards. A pretty nice example, that you shouldn’t be fooled by your first impression.
Sebastian, to finish our interview, one last question: What’s your opinion on the development of the market for air cooled Porsches in the next years?
You’ll find loads of forecasts on that one. Prices have increased very much in recent years. Sometimes way too quickly. With these trends there’s always a risk of a reversal. Selling cars, that sold like hotcakes in 2016, needs a lot more patience today. But if we’re honest: Very good cars with a comprehensive and cemplete history will never come cheap.