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CORVETTE SUMMER TO 4-DOOR MERCEDES;WEARY OF MAKING ROOM FOR GROCERY BAGS, KIDS' STUFF, PUBLISHER LONGS FOR MORE FUN

By Published on .

The day Richard Roffman drove home from the supermarket with a bag of groceries on his lap, he knew he was no longer "tooling around" in his '94 Corvette convertible. The 'vette had grocery bags stuffed away in what little carrying space the vehicle had, he recalls.

But for this 48-year-old Miami publisher, times have changed. From safety to comfort to prestige when driving advertisers-or his 5- and 11-year-old children-around town, the 'vette, he says, just wouldn't do any longer.

"It was a great idea when I was younger, but it just wasn't worth the hassle any more," he recalls from the offices of SmartKid, the upscale title he launched in January.

MOVES INTO MERCEDES E420

He sold the car and relies on his 1995 Mercedes E420 to get around.

Now he is looking longingly toward another sports car-and wondering how soon he can get into one.

The imported luxury sedan is far different from the cars Mr. Roffman has owned in his life. His first was a red 1962 Pontiac Bonneville convertible handed down from his parents. His next was a new '69 Dodge Charger, this time given to him as a graduation present. He later found passion for the road in the seat of Datsun-now known as Nissan-Zs, from an '81 280ZX then to future generations in model years '84, then an '86.

Sure, he likes to kick the Mercedes 275 horses under the hood. But the car's conservative appearance doesn't draw the authorities' attention, he admits.

`COPS DON'T LOOK'

"It really flies," he says. "It's a boxy four-door car, and the cops don't look at me."

But, he laments, "I just feel like an old man. My father would have bought this car."

What's also different about the Mercedes is it's leased-a "confining" feeling he admits he'll never enter into again. Because of worries about mileage, having nothing to bring to a trade-and sheer boredom with the car-his last lease payment this summer will be his last ever, he says.

Then, he'll start hunting for the new BMW 5-series convertible, or a new Corvette. "I want something that's lower to the ground and a two seater. I'd like to have a little bit more fun."

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