By Alison Laurio -- email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- The yellow Ferrari gleams under showroom lights. The F1 Spyder is No. 16 of the 100 made in 1999, the final year the Ferrari 355 was produced, and with only 16,589 original miles on it is many a car lover's dream.
The Spyder is at Truban Motor Co., 60 W. Jubal Early Drive, where the firm's motto is "Fulfilling Your Automotive Dreams." It's a slogan that also fits the goal of co-owners John W. Truban Jr. and his wife, Charlene.
"It had always been a dream of ours to open up a high-end car dealership that provides a unique experience for our clients," John Truban said. "I think it's new and unique in this area."
There are people for whom staring a Ferrari or Maserati in its headlights is a first-time experience.
"They're spectacular cars that they've only seen on posters and in art and in movies," Truban said. "Here we provide people with the ability to look up-close and walk around something they've only seen on TV. We see ourselves as we're half dealership, we're half museum."
While there are high-end sports cars like the Spyder and two Porsche 996 Cabriolets, a 1996 Porsche 993 C2 and a 2007 Maserati Quattroports Sport GT, the three brands that are the couples' specialty, the criteria for what ends up in the showroom are simple: High quality and low mileage, Truban said.
"To help us facilitate and work with our customers, it has to be a car that fits our niche," he said. "We're looking for cars with low mileage and cars that are well-kept. We don't sell junk."
They also have a fully restored 1960 Volkswagen Type 2 pickup, a 1972 El Camino with 19,000 original miles and a one-owner 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS.
Most of the inventory, 80 percent to 90 percent, Truban said, are within the $15,000 to $50,000 range.
Each vehicle is painstakingly researched and checked out, including prior owners, what it was used for, where it was driven and service history. Many have such original items as owners manuals, tool kits and, in the Spyder's case, its No. 16 dedication license plate.
"We spend a lot of time researching the history of a car," Truban said. "It's like you're a historian. We hand-pick the cars. And with a lot of cars, there's a story that goes with it. We know the stories of them all."
Since gaining all its licensing in spring 2011, officially opening its doors in August and doing mainly Internet sales since, Truban is expanding its local visibility.
"We've been getting our name out there within the last month or two," Truban said.
Business has doubled over the last six months, he said.
The Internet is and always will be a big part of business, both for acquiring vehicles and finding customers, he said.
Buyers are about 80 percent out of state, including Texas, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. One 1998 silver Porsche 911 was bought by a customer from Germany, who had it shipped to him, Truban said.
Some customers are collectors who have five to 10 cars already.
"Some are middle- to upper-age, and they're buying the car they've always dreamed of," Truban said. "They're pretty savvy. They find us on the Internet, and 95 percent of them never come here in person. The Internet has changed the car business dramatically."
Customers typically are male, he said.
"They're 95 percent men and 95 percent decided upon by women," Truban said. "More than not, it's the couple who decides."
The Trubans have a combined 20 years of experience in the business.
Charlene Truban, 39, is a native of Silver Spring, Md., who attended Montgomery College before joining the work force.
"I got into it back in '98," she said.
She worked at dealerships in Virginia and Maryland, starting out as a secretary before moving into financing and titling.
"DMV work is my specialty," she said. "It's what I love to do because I'm a perfectionist."
John Truban, 32, is a Winchester native with a bachelor's degree in accounting from James Madison University.
He got his start washing dealership cars while in high school, and learned the ropes after college at Miller Auto Group, Winchester. That included working in administration in many departments from parts to sales.
"My mentor was George Miller, the owner," Truban said. "I had the privilege of working under him and working around at the different dealerships and learning the aspects of all the brands. It was very valuable information."
He credits his father, John T. Truban Sr., a Winchester attorney, for instilling. the love of sports cars in him as he was growing up. His father's first was a Porsche, then several others over the years.
"Like most aficionados like that, you get the itch," Truban said.
The couple live in Winchester with their four children, ages 2, 4, 9 and 13, Charlene Truban said.
Every vehicle is driven to make sure it's in top shape, and sometimes the children get to come along. That was the case with the Volkswagen truck, she said.
"We put a little gas in it, took our daughter and drove around a bit," Truban said. "People were smiling and waving at us. It was fun."