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    Photo by Terrence Humphrey

    For now, the Audi R8, Corvette ZO6, Ferrari 458 and other luxury cars bake under the sun in the used-car lot Hikes Lane Auto. They’re part of owner Jason Schmidt’s fleet for Derby City Dream Cars, which began in March and offers short-term rentals — as brief as 24 hours — of high-end cars. That 24 hours will hit you with a $600 to $1,000 bill, not including comprehensive insurance and a deposit of up to $2,500. “It’s a showy concept,” admits Schmidt, leaning back in a seat inside the mostly empty repair garage. “It’s so extra, right?”

    Schmidt, who’s in his mid-40s, with hair that’s the true representation of salt-and-pepper, has been in the car business “all my life.” Derby City Dream Cars is a profit-sharing program, meaning owners can take their Mercedes-Benz or Maybach out of a garage and add it to the fleet. “We keep it clean and safe,” Schmidt says. “And we’ll make you some money.” Some customers used the service to become Derby royalty for a day. For a flashy prom entrance, parents chauffeured teens in tuxes and glittery dresses. Luxury without committing to the full sticker price, or having to deal with what can be the complicated maintenance of such vehicles.

    If you’ve got enough padding in your wallet, you can purchase a package of miles, ranging from Silver ($4,000 for 500 miles) to Diamond ($55,000 for 10,000 miles), allowing you to switch between the vehicles of your choice. Each rental period is limited to 100 miles before overages, because every mile equals more depreciation. Schmidt estimates that it costs about $7 per mile to maintain the vehicles.

    “I think in order for this city to grow, it needs a little of that high-end flair that you get with major metro areas,” Schmidt says. One customer spent $7,500 the first month. No wrecks so far, but Schmidt expects one eventually. “All these (cars) were posters on the wall, dreams for people,” Schmidt says. “(I’m) not overly protective of them. I want people to experience them.”

    Collectively, the 11 current vehicles total about $2 million in value. The most expensive? The all-black Bentley Mulsanne, one of fewer than 100 in the world, costs $360,000. The Excalibur Roadster, which debuted in the mid-1960s, was modeled after a 1928 Mercedes. It looks like it drove straight off the pages of The Great Gatsby: bug-eyed headlights; a red-leather interior paired with a wood-grain console; a compact cabin behind a long, white nose of an engine. Schmidt’s dream vehicle is a Bugatti. “The cheapest one I found was $1.7 million,” he says. “We’d have to charge $50 per mile.”

    This originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine as the Why Louisville? bit. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    Jennifer Kiefer's picture

    About Jennifer Kiefer

    Germantown transplant. Louisville native.

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