Exotic Car Leasing: An Interview with Steven Posner, CEO Putnam Leasing

Steven Posner, Putnam Leasing

In writing about the luxury bandwidth for many years, and cutting our editorial teeth on missions and visions of high-end destination clubs, we were usually surprised by the Ultra UHNW (Ultra High Net Worth) ways of living and doing. As regards these clubs, the vision lay in the creation of different luxury vacations in six to ten or more million-dollar homes in the highest end locales. Those who paid for this vacation experience wanted the homes for a relatively short time. They then went somewhere else, on another vacation, staying in another elite estate home. The UHNW idea did not deal with the money spent, but with the experience acquired.

Photos: Putnam Leasing / Interior, Cobra Sportscar

A similar approach is found in the rarified dimension of collector and exotic car leasing, and those who lease the most expensive, exotic automobiles in the world. Leasing, like vacationing, is usually time limited: as long the lease lasts, the lessee can enjoy the best of the best; yet, similar to the UHNW destination club member, the auto lessee needn’t buy the car. They can drive something else. 

Putnam Leasing is the leader in the unique UHNW exotic and collector car-leasing dimension. They are also known for unique, customer-centric leasing options, that include changing cars mid-lease, and pre-qualifying the client before he or she goes to a classic car auction.   

Steven Posner is CEO and Founder of Putnam Leasing. We were fortunate to have a conversation with him recently. 

JustLuxe: Many people, for years, have been leasing instead of owning — big and small ticket items. How do you think the current climate will affect the leasing business in the coming year and in the years to come? Do you think it will increase people’s tendency to have more financial flexibility?

Mr. Posner: I’m sure the leasing business will increase as there has been a decrease in people’s liquid wealth, and leasing affords them an option to drive what they want and not have to come up with the total price of the car, or huge down payments. It’s a far more palatable way of enjoying the finest automobiles’ flexibly. 

Pagani Sports Car

JustLuxe: What are the most exotic automobiles and expensive automobiles that Putnam Leasing has leased in its history?  How is the business divided between collectible and new exotic cars?  And finally, how are your company's leasing programs different from more ordinary options? 

Mr. Posner: Over the last 35 years, Putnam has leased hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cars to qualified customers all over the country.  A few particularly remarkable cars that come to my mind are a racing Porsche, owned and driven by Paul Newman that was priced at approximately $5 million, a Ferrari Long Wheel Base California Spider with a value of $15 million, and an original Ford GT40 from the 1960s with a value of approximately $7 million.  

Bugatti Chyron Sportscar Interior 

My estimation is that Putnam’s leases are about 70 percent in the new and pre-owned exotic category and 30 percent in collectible ‘classic’ automobiles.  Putnam Leasing programs are lease-to-own terms, as opposed to most auto manufacturer offerings that are more closed-end. In simple terms, Putnam Leasing offers flexibility while allowing our clients to drive the best. The personalized service that Putnam offers every customer also differs from leasing a car from a manufacturers-based program. We know our clients well and have good, personal relationships with our customers.

JustLuxe What financial incentives does leasing vs. an outright purchase offer in today’s market? 

Mr. Posner: In many states throughout the country, leasing allows our clients to pay sales tax in monthly installments as opposed to paying all of it up front when a car is purchased outright.  Also, credit permitting, and depending on the type of vehicle, no down payment is necessary.  Financing a car generally requires a down payment plus paying your sales tax up front. That can get very expensive when purchasing an exotic or collectible car. Another benefit to working with Putnam Leasing is that we do not report to the major credit bureaus.

Classic Collectors Aston Martin 

JustLuxe:   Discuss one or two memorable leasing requests Putnam Leasing has received over the years to illustrate how the process works for readers.

Mr. Posner: I was sitting in the office at lunch while most of our sales staff was out and the phone rang. I took the call which was from a man in Pennsylvania who asked me to explain our programs, as he had seen Putnam’s name all over the exotic car world.  The vehicle he wanted was a vintage Lincoln with a purchase price of about $600,000. The seller was a private individual in the state of Washington.  The lessee and I agreed on terms and finalized the lease transaction. We arranged the purchase, the inspection, and the transportation of the vehicle within days.  That individual became one of Putnam’s best clients and a friend. That experience is typical of how our clients interact with the company. Most our clients are car enthusiasts and collectors. They know their cars, and they need a company like Putnam Leasing that understands the marketplace. 

Classic Cobra

JustLuxe: Putnam Leasing has served with the UHNW population for many years. Do you see any key differences between what younger clients vs. Generation Z in contrast to Boomers want, in terms of cars?

Mr. Posner: Many children of baby boomers have become enthusiasts. I’ve seen this time after time, when attending major auctions and car shows throughout the country. Car collecting has become a generational succession. Children of baby boomers tend to be more interested in the newer exotic stuff than their parents, who remain avid enthusiasts of the collectibles. Boomers tend to be especially drawn to iconic cars from the era in which they grew up.  

JustLuxe: If you had to choose a favorite 2-3 automobiles that you would target to lease right now, which would you pick and why? 

Mr. Posner: I’ve been in the automobile leasing business for 41 years. And, like any market, the car sector experiences ups and downs. Currently, there are some good opportunities out there. I really like the classic gold standards in the collector category right now. Cars that have tremendous value now, are the Ferrari Daytona coupes and the perfect, low mileage air-cooled Porsches. These cars are really beautiful to look at and fun to drive and still attainable, price-wise, for the high-end and the average collector.  They are cars you can drive every day, weather permitting.   

Purple Porsche

JustLuxe: How do you see Putnam Leasing moving forward with auctions in the face of the pandemic with Pebble Beach and other similar events postponed until 2021? 

Mr. Posner: Putnam has been the official leasing arm for the Gooding & Company automobile auctions for the past few years. If the events take place in some shape or form in light of current events, Putnam and our team will be writing business for the auction and all other customers, new and old. While some elements have changed temporarily, the overall business of collecting cars has not. The virus has not affected our business, as many auctions will be conducted online and of course, we will still be there to help. 

JustLuxe: Finally, I wanted to know more about leasable automobiles that are true collectibles, and how popular they are to lease. Do you have, for example, Lagonda, Duesenberg, or sporty Sunbeam Alpines, Cobras, antique Jaguars?  

Mr. Posner: Putnam has leased all the cars you just mentioned. One of the great value-added offerings that Putnam Leasing provides clients is our knowledge of the industry. If a client really wants a Shelby Cobra for example, we will keep an eye out for good opportunities to bring to them for consideration. However, we do not stock cars to lease. These cars come from dealers, private sellers and high-end auctions. Putnam oversees the leasing terms of these cars. And, in addition to providing flexible leasing options, Putnam Leasing considers itself a loyal partner to our clients. We help them build their car collections, from generation to generation. 


Putnam Leasing

Bugatti Interior and Steering Wheel with Logo

Putnam Leasing

Classic Porsche Carrera

Susan Kime

Susan Kime's career combines publishing, journalism and editing. She was the Destination Club/Fractional Update Editor for Elite Traveler, and senior club news correspondent for The Robb Report's Vacation Homes. Her work has been published in Stratos, Luxury Living, European CEO, The London Telegraph, Caviar Affair, ARDA Developments, and Luxist/AOL. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Travel Conno...(Read More)

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