When British car aficionado Elo pulled up outside a Wynwood restaurant, the valet was skeptical.
“I can’t park that, man,” the car attendant said. “It’s a tractor.”
“It’s a Lamborghini,” Elo insisted, gesturing to the cursive script on the driver’s seat of the 1953 tractor. The valet didn’t buy it.
Elo was puttering around in one of the original tractors from Lamborghini’s first foray into vehicles. The price? More than $250,000.
“There’s one in the Lambo factory, I have one, and there’s one in South America that hasn’t ever been seen,” Elo said.
Now, a thin coat of dust is dulling the tractor’s gleaming orange-and-blue paint. Elo’s friendly pit bull, Max, snoozed nearby, oblivious to the cacophony of welding, hammering and handiwork around him.
Elo — car collector, customizer and owner of the London Car Museum — rolls out his next automobile venture on Sunday, and workers have been busy getting his Wynwood location ready for the public.
After a few soft openings with a select group of investors and friends, Elo’s Miami Supercar Rooms will host a public car festival. Three blocks along Northwest First Court in Wynwood will be cordoned off to traffic on Sunday. The free automobile festival will fill the street with 66 of Elo’s cars, organized into three categories: road art (customized cars), classic cars and “supercars.”
“A supercar is something that stands out of the ordinary,” Elo said. “It gives you the gasp. It stops you in your tracks.”
Inside the gallery space will be 24 more cars. As a nod to Elo’s English background, a British breakfast will be served from 8 to 10 a.m.; scones and tea will be served at 4 p.m.
Elo is his full name. After a family stint in the witness protection program, he said, his first name became his last name, and his last name disappeared. His passport identifies him as “XXXX Elo.”
He loves talking about his cars and showing them off within the car community, something he’s determined to help build in Miami through his new gallery.
“[Miami collectors] do have the cars. They just hide it,” he said. “These guys have no reason to drive. I want to bring back that reason.”
When Miami Supercar Rooms opens in February, anyone who passes the e-verification process will get a free membership at the door. Free memberships, Elo explained, allow management to revoke memberships without warning if the customer is rude or aggressive.
“You didn’t pay for it, so you can’t force the issue,” he said. “That keeps people on the edge.”
Outside are six “pods,” where for $3,000 a night, up to six diners can eat and drink all they want in the company of one of Elo’s supercars. An associate (all employees are known as associates) will bring drinks, food and the story of the car on display.
The pods will have privacy shades that, if opened, allow a view of a 1955 trailer running down the middle of the yard. The trailer will host a kitchenette, DJ booth and bar. Behind the pods will be seven parking spaces for diners to exhibit their fanciest cars.
Clients begin as black members with access to the bar and work their way up. After enough time spent at the venue, members can earn white membership, which comes with access to the supercar gallery.
Sliding glass doors to the gallery reveal what Elo calls “the most desirable cars,” including a 1955 SL 300 Mercedes Gullwing, 1982 Lamborghini Countach, 1967 Ford, Mustang Shelby GT500 and the 2007 Shelby Supercar Ultimate Aero TT. The vehicles on display are worth a collective $20 million.
“Wow factor” is the impetus for how Elo built his substantial car collection, but finding the story behind the car is his obsession. He’ll spend hours on the Internet researching backstories, and his knowledge is encyclopedic.
“I look for the story,” he said. “Without the story, the car is flat.”
If you go
What: Promenade Auto Wynwood, a free street fair of 66 cars on display, organized into classic cars, supercars and art cars.
Where: Northwest First Court between Northwest 20th and 23rd streets, Wynwood.
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.