American Tiffany Coach Builders is just a little more than a year old, but the company has already been written about in the Robb Report, an international magazine for the connoisseur, been interviewed on the David Letterman Show, and won raves by viewers and peers at two major auto shows. Viewers of late night TV may have seen the David Letterman segment last February in which Letterman visited the New York Auto Show and interviewed Lenny Car, vice president of American Tiffany Coach Builders. “Letterman couldn’t believe how elegant our cars were,” Mr. Car said.
“We had two of our newest models at the show,” he continued. “One is called the Golden Spur, a forty-six inch Lincoln conversion which is our top of the line limousine. The other was our new front-wheel-drive Buick Park Avenue which we displayed for the first time. It even attracted interest from the Buick Division.” Other limousine builders at the show told Mr. Car they were impressed with the luxury features and quality of workmanship in American Tiffany limousines. These two limousines are among several models of extended Lincolns, Cadillacs, Buicks, Mercedes-Benz, and Rolls Royces which American Tiffany will produce at their Long Island production facility in ’85.
American Tiffany is innovative in every respect and they not only build a full line of luxury limousines, they have introduced an extended service contract covering the entire car for 3 years, or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. The service plan is recognized and accepted by over 5,000 dealers nationally and covers almost everything that could go wrong including the engine, air conditioning, drive shaft, electrical, cooling system, suspension, and wiper motors. Coverage also includes towing and rental car allowances anywhere in the U.S.A.
American Tiffany started building limousines for export to an account of Mr. Ron Pecunies, American Tiffany’s president. With the current strength of the U.S. dollar against weaker European currencies, the company decided to research the American market. Mr. Pecunies and Mr. Car have worked together to develop American Tiffany’s product line and establish the company’s marketing program. Mr. Pecunies has thirty years of experience in various phases of the automotive industry, and Mr. Car has been involved with sales and marketing in New York area for more than ten years. Mr. Pecunies says, “Lenny and I work well together and have built an excellent reputation for American Tiffany in a relatively short period of time. In the beginning, we spent our time researching what the competition had to offer. In fact, we have literally purchased and taken apart competitors products and in most cases, found we built a better designed and engineered car with less problems for the same money.”
In the competitive limousine industry, American Tiffany continually tries to keep a step ahead of other builders in product design. According to Mr. Pecunies, the company attempts to anticipate customers’ requirements and build them into limousines which are still within a certain price range. “I’ve been a limousine owner and user for more than ten years,” he says, “and have been in almost every recognized make. Without hesitation, I feel that American Tiffany conversions are among the best for quality, aesthetics, safety, and resale.”
American Tiffany built and delivered about 140 limousines in ’84 and hopes to increase its ’85 output by about 60 units. Ultimately, the company expects to produce about 500 cars annually. The present mix is about 75 to 80 percent Lincolns since American Tiffany feels that the Lincoln Town Car adapts very well as a stretch-limousine. Now that Cadillac has announced the continuation of the Fleetwood Brougham for a few more years, however, the company is planning to increase its percentage of Cadillac limousines. American Tiffany has also built and delivered a few ’85 front-wheel-drive Cadillac limousines.
All of American Tiffany’s Cadillac and Lincoln base vehicles are equipped with a factory towing package which includes heavy electrical and suspension components, air ride with controls within reach of the driver, 100 amp alternator, heavy duty cooling recovery system, full spare tire, auxiliary cooling systems heavy turn and flasher, heavy duty rear brakes, and a heavy duty axle package. In addition to these features, American Tiffany recommends an optional dual battery system. “We won’t build a car,” says Mr. Car, “unless it is strong enough to withstand the streets of New York. This might cost a little bit more but it is worth it in the long run, and our construction requirements allow us to offer a bonafide warranty.”
At the Long Island production facility, American Tiffany occupies approximately 15,000 square feet. The facility also produces vehicles for three distinctly different limousine nameplates, each with its own specific designs, engineering features, and characteristics. This concept is something like a mini G.M. which produces Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, etc., with different features and different pricing. This enables the production facility to maintain a continuous production schedule despite the market fluctuations which may affect the various product lines.
American Tiffany’s production time is currently 5-6 weeks. All of the parts are pre-manufactured and kept in a sizeable inventory so that they are available if needed by a customer or dealer. The dealer network is very important part of American Tiffany’s operation, according to Mr. Car. Limousine operators need to be able to get quick and reliable service to avoid costly downtime. To expedite electrical repairs, American Tiffany supplies a wiring diagram with each car so that a problem can be diagnosed without tearing a vehicle apart needlessly.
The Golden Spur is American Tiffany’s finest model. It is the vehicle which was featured on the David Letterman Show. Metal trim is done in gold plate with matching 24 carat brass hardware. The backlit black Lucite console top is usually complimented with brown, beige, champagne, and black. The vehicle can be equipped with a second set of color coordinated assist straps, hidden interior clothes hangers, hands-free intercom, storage drawers, writing desk, footrest, pillows, etched glass divider, concealed safe, cellular phone (with an additional sending and receiving head in front for use by the driver), 4 reading lamps, illuminated visor mirrors, moon roof, rheostat-controlled lighting, overboard sink drain, champagne cooler, sink faucet with five flavor dispenser, eight inch Sony TV, Blaupunkt four-speaker stereo, VCR, and disc player.
The Silver Spur model features all rear cabin components including a low silhouette corner bar in silver and stainless. Hardware and upholstery are usually coordinated in dark blue, black, and wine. There is also the Tiffany Workhorse model, designed and built for the commercial livery user. The units are designed to look good and stand up under continuous use.
Every American Tiffany limousine is completely soundproofed, undercoated, and reinforced with heavier gauge metals than those used by the manufacturer. American Tiffany refinishes the entire lower half of every car and restripes it. Vehicles are road tested for noise, vibration, and handling before delivery.
For the operator who makes their living with a limousine, American Tiffany has designed three different interiors. One has a full sixty inch rear-facing bench seat and seats 6 passengers in the rear compartment. Another design has two separate bench seats with a fold-down console in the center. The third interior has 3 separate seats and the center one can be taken out and replaced with a full entertainment console. The separate seats also fold up into the divider for additional luggage and leg room.
Most of American Tiffany’s business is through automobile dealerships located in the New York area. The company plans to have dealers in every part of the United States within the next year and, hopefully, a few additional ones overseas. Mr. Car feels that an extensive dealer network is the only way to be a profitable, established coachbuilder. With the company’s current 2 year, 24,000 mile, and 3 year, 60,000 mile warranties, a customer can take their car to one of over 5,000 service locations for no cost repairs. American Tiffany is also planning to offer a complete package which will include an extended service agreement, financing or leasing program, and operating insurance. The package will also include life and health insurance for an operator. Mr. Car says that the program will be priced so that a livery service can operate an American Tiffany limousine profitability at current market rates.
Mr. Pecunies feels that both the limousine service market, and the private limousine market, will continue to grow. It is a lively industry, he says, which offers business opportunities for many potential operators because of tighter drunk driving laws, accessible start-up costs, tax investment programs, and other beneficial factors. Many private individuals, he says, are also discovering that limousines fit efficiently into their businesses. For example, American Tiffany recently completed a car for a top New York designer in which the bar was covered in dyed goat skin and the seats and door panels were upholstered in matching ultra suede. The vehicle also had two cellular phones, a conference table, etched glass dividers, and many other interior features. The limousine was designed to express the owner’s outlook on contemporary design. It says she’s arrived. She’s successful in her field. She’s innovative. From a practical standpoint, the limousine enables her to display designs and materials at a client’s place of business, keep in touch with other clients, and hold meetings. This limousine is not only functional; it’s also a deductable business expense.
American Tiffany also built a limousine for a jeweler which had all of the usual features as well as a fireproof safe, concealed from view, in which to carry valuables. A sophisticated alarm system in the car includes a pocket-size remote control which activates the alarm if the owner is accosted within 1,000 feet of the car. American Tiffany has also built many other special order vehicles, each of which takes about twelve weeks to produce, and the company takes special pride in its custom designs.
With a growing reputation, along with an expanding distributor network, Mr. Pecunies and Mr. Car are planning for long term growth and success. American Tiffany has certainly come a considerable way thus far.