If you see a Ferrari, Porsche or Maserati speeding down I-95, chances are it came from Steven Kessler's dealership.
Kessler, who owned an exotic car dealership in New York City, recently opened a showroom in North Miami Beach.
Over the years, he's sold luxury vehicles to Jon Bon Jovi, Mike Tyson, Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi, and a blind Al Pacino drove one of Kessler's red Ferraris in the movie "Scent of a Woman."
He shared some of his favorite celeb stories with SouthFlorida.com.
When did you start out and how?
My parents bought me a car that I could go to school with - a beautiful 1962 Super 60 Porsche. I loved that car, but, shortly thereafter, the car developed an oil leak and cost roughly $500 to repair. After going back and forth with the mechanic, I found out it would be easier to sell the car than to keep spending money on expensive repairs. My parents had bought the car for $1,500, and I, not knowing what I was doing, raised the price to $1,850 in hopes of having it not sell. Instead, I ended up selling it to a priest who was on his way to California and made a $350 profit.
Tell us about about your most interesting celebrity encounter.
It has to be when I met Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. When Belushi came to pick up the car with his wife, Judy, it was purely by accident. He was so rich, he didn’t care about the way he spent money. And he was reckless, too. My dealership was on 34th Street in New York city and you could either make a left or a right. Belushi just ran his car straight into the building. We became such close friends that I would get a car and call Dan and say, “Hey! I have a Maserati here that just came in.”
What was it like working with Mike Tyson?
He would come into the showroom even before he was famous. Later, Mike went on to fight in California for the heavyweight championship of the world, and he won. It was all over the papers, along with the fact that he had bought his first Ferrari in California, which pissed me off. Shortly thereafter, I saw a big black limousine pull up in front of the dealership. First steps out Mike Marly, one of the premier sports writers for the New York Post, specializing in boxing, then Tyson steps out of the limousine in a form-fitting leather jumpsuit. He starts observing the cars and just getting a feel for what we had displayed on the floor and, all of a sudden, pauses in front of a brand new Ferrari, a 1987 Mondial Cabriolet, and asks how much the car costs. Mike proceeds to tell me he’s going to pay me with a credit card, and I say that’s fine. He pulls out the credit card and as I blink to read, the card says Don King. As I look at Mike, he says, "No worries, it’s good. It’s Don King’s credit card."
Who is your favorite client?
Katherine Turner. She bought a Maserati Quattroporte.
Kessler Auto Group is located at 2024 NE 155th St., North Miami. Go to KesslerAutoGroup.com.