Why I Love My Car: David SK Lee

Lead­ing Fer­rari col­lec­tor David SK Lee cel­e­brates his pas­sion for the en­dur­ing ap­peal of the renowned Ital­ian mar­que, which cel­e­brates its 70th an­niver­sary this year. Chair­man and CEO of the Los An­ge­les-based Hing Wa Lee jew­elry group, he also re­veals how

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TREND - By MICHAEL SPENCE

did you learn to drive?

I’ve driven ever since I was 16 — get­ting your driver’s li­cense was a sign of free­dom for my gen­er­a­tion in the US.

And your first car?

When I was 16, the cheap­est new car was a Toy­ota pickup truck. I saved enough with some en­tre­pre­neur­ial things that I had done to pay for it. I was re­ally proud that I used my own money and didn’t need to ask my par­ents for help.

How did your love of cars be­gin?

In third grade, one of my teach­ers said, “Go to the li­brary, pick up any book you want and read it.” A lot of kids were pick­ing up di­nosaur books, but I came across an Ital­ian sports car book. It was very al­lur­ing. I en­joyed read­ing it and copy­ing it — I was good at draw­ing. Fast for­ward to 16 and I had a six-foot Lam­borgh­ini Coun­tach poster in my bed­room — along­side the Farah Fawcett poster, of course. And I said to my­self, “When I get older, my goal is to buy that car.”

What was your first su­per­car?

I bought a Lam­borgh­ini Di­ablo at the age of 29. I got a good deal, but it wasn’t in the best con­di­tion and was al­ways in the shop. So one day I’d had enough, and I drove into a Fer­rari dealer in Or­ange County and traded it in for a F355 Spy­der — that was my first Fer­rari. At that point, it wasn’t a col­lec­tor thing; it was just a cool car to have.

When did the col­lec­tion start?

I had su­per­cars of dif­fer­ent brands, but it still wasn’t a col­lect­ing men­tal­ity un­til I went to a friend’s house and he showed me a Jaguar E-Type con­vert­ible he had found; I thought it was cool. So I re­searched the Fer­rari her­itage, all the mod­els and the ap­pre­ci­a­tion val­ues. And be­cause I’m a busi­ness guy, I quickly came up with this idea: what bet­ter thing to in­vest in than some­thing that you can en­joy look­ing at, that you can en­joy driv­ing, that you can en­joy as a life­style and that is ap­pre­ci­at­ing in value? I thought I had struck gold. My first clas­sic Fer­rari was the 275 GTS. I de­vel­oped two strate­gies. One was buy­ing all the clas­sic con­vert­ible Fer­raris — like the 330 GTS, the 250, the 365 Day­tona Spy­der — and the other was the su­per­cars, be­cause I al­ready had the Enzo.

You’re among the few peo­ple who get first op­tion on limited edi­tion Fer­raris. How did you achieve that sta­tus?

You need to get the at­ten­tion of Maranello. I de­cided I would be a client who only buys Fer­raris, who only col­lects Fer­raris, who only drives Fer­raris and who drives them seven days a week — some­thing re­ally crazy to catch their at­ten­tion. And it worked! I quickly moved up their client list.

You have a big fol­low­ing on In­sta­gram.

The pub­lisher of a mag­a­zine I ad­ver­tise in said to me, “David, you need to get on so­cial me­dia — that’s the fu­ture.” I’m a mar­ket­ing guy, so I could un­der­stand the con­cept very eas­ily and I cre­ated the ac­count @fer­rari­col­lec­tor_­davi­dlee. I was post­ing stuff about my in­ter­ests: cars, wine, food and travel. My fol­low­ing ramped up very quickly and two years on, I’m at 330,000. Now that I’ve reached this state, I feel a re­spon­si­bil­ity to teach my fol­low­ers about ethics and core val­ues, and how to be a de­cent per­son — how you can en­joy the good things, but also be re­spon­si­ble.

How many cars are in your col­lec­tion?

I have about 30 cars. There are other peo­ple who have a lot more cars than I do, but what’s spe­cial about my sit­u­a­tion is that I have themes, a

The 1985 288 GTO is con­sid­ered by Fer­rari to be their first su­per­car. Then they pro­duced the F40 — their first 200mph-plus car — for the 40th an­niver­sary, the F50 for the 50th, the Enzo for the 60th and La­Fer­rari for the 70th. These cars were fu­tur­is­tic and looked cool; it’s a spe­cial cat­e­gory. I’m one of only a hand­ful of peo­ple who have all five, so peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate that I take them to events and show them.

What makes Fer­rari so spe­cial?

Fer­rari does have al­lure — the red, the rac­ing his­tory, the dif­fi­culty of get­ting a prod­uct that’s re­ally sought after. Money can buy the other makes, but at some point with Fer­rari it doesn’t mat­ter how much money you have. They made only 499 of the La­Fer­rari, but 1,500 peo­ple could af­ford it and wanted to buy one.

What are your fa­vorites?

My fa­vorite, due to sen­ti­men­tal value, is my 1985 288 GTO. My 1964 Lusso Com­pe­tizione, with its race and rally his­tory, is very spe­cial, as there are only four in ex­is­tence. My 1967 330 GTS is just the coolest con­vert­ible ride. My 1987 288 GTO Evoluzione pro­to­type, with only five made, is as rare as it gets. And my 1967 275 GTB/4 is con­sid­ered by Fer­rari col­lec­tors as the ul­ti­mate clas­sic Fer­rari.

Read the rest of our in­ter­view with David SK Lee at cdlifestylepremium.com

DAVID SK LEE / TED7 PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Fer­rari col­lec­tor David SK Lee.

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