How to rent an exotic car

There’s nothing special about renting a car. The whole process can be more annoying than anything else because many of the vehicles we rent are boring, basic versions of the cars we’d actually like to drive. Paying for the privilege sometimes feels like robbery. What you might not know is that the rental industry is much more than the endless sea of grey and white you see in airport lots. There are many options when it comes to renting exciting cars, many of which are more accessible than you might think. Renting an exotic car or sports car is nearly as easy as picking up a Chevrolet Impala from the Avis lineup, so let’s take a look at how the process works.

Why are you renting?

Before signing on the dotted line and peeling out of the parking lot, you should think about why you want to rent an exotic car in the first place. Are you looking to rent a car for a week-long vacation, for a one-time event, or for a weekend getaway? Depending on where you live, you may have access to a variety of rental options that range from long-term agreements to a few hours lapping a racetrack in a Ferrari. The costs and terms will vary greatly based on the vehicle borrowed and how it will be used.

Where to Rent

If you’re near a major airport or metropolitan area, you may have several rental options that are not in any way related to major companies like Enterprise or Avis. The companies below are among the most popular ways to rent exotic vehicles, but are by no means the only ways.

Turo

Turo is a marketplace that connects vehicle owners and people wanting to rent. Much like Airbnb does for homeowners, Turo allows people to rent out their personal vehicles to others. In many areas, there are quite a few expensive, rare, and exotic vehicles that would never be available through a major rental company. You’ll find BMW M cars and all manner of Mercedes-AMG vehicles, but the selection varies wildly from place to place. Turo offers insurance through its app, but it’s a good idea to find out how much coverage you have through your existing plan or major credit card before booking something that costs as much as a house.

Sixt

Sixt operates in several countries and offers high-end vehicles for rent like the Ford Mustang Shelby GT-S. The company also offers a variety of convertible options, such as the Jaguar F-Type and Mercedes-Benz SL. You won’t find a Lamborghini or a true exotic sports car in the Sixt catalog, but there are plenty of fast cars to keep everyone happy.

Regional shops

Across the country, there are several rental companies that specialize in high-end and exotic vehicles. Gotham Dream Cars has offices in New Jersey, Florida, and Las Vegas that serve large geographic areas. The company, like many others across the country, has a large fleet that consists of several Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and American muscle like the Chevrolet Corvette.

Major chains

Believe it or not, you can rent a Ferrari from Enterprise, Hertz, and others. Availability and locations vary, so the location closest to you may not have the exact vehicle you want. You’ll also be restricted on when and where you can pick up and drop off, and there may be mileage limits involved.

Exotic car experiences

2019 Ferrari Portofino review
Miles Branman/Digital Trends

If you’re just looking to get some seat time in a fast car, an exotic car experience can be a great way to get behind the wheel. In some cases, companies will set up autocross-style courses in large parking lots or will plan a short road trip, while in others you’ll get to pilot a supercar on a real track. It’s easy to find these companies, and many offer deep discounts through services like Groupon. Most experiences are set up to allow rental time blocks and offer a choice of cars.

How much will it cost?

The good news is that you can spend as much or as little as you want when renting a vehicle, but you absolutely get what you pay for. Sites like Turo give owners a degree of freedom in their pricing, so you may see different costs applied to the same types of vehicles. Right now in Los Angeles, a 2018 Porsche 911 Cabriolet can be had for just $145 per day, a 2010 Ferrari California is going for $299 per day, and a 2016 BMW i8 is listed at $122 per day.

Those prices are steeper than a standard car rental, but they’re far from the top of the heap of exotic rental prices. Local companies that offer exotic car rentals tend to be much more expensive. One New England rental operation charges $800 to rent a Lamborghini Gallardo SE for a half a day, and the charge only includes 100 miles with $4 per mile overage rates. Keep in mind that’s not the Raging Bull’s latest and greatest model, either.

Restrictions

Renting a car of any type comes with a pile of red tape, from age requirements to credit card charges, and renting an exotic vehicle is no different. Services like Turo that allow owners to set many of their own policies can be confusing, as some vehicles have more specific requirements than others. In general, count on an age requirement of at least 30 years old and plan on being required to lay down a hefty deposit before getting behind the wheel.

It pays to shop around, but you should start your search with the understanding that renting an exotic car is far more expensive and more restrictive than renting a minivan. If you’re unsure of the type of vehicle you want, or even if it’s something you’re ready to jump into with both feet, it’s a good idea to rent one for a day before committing for a weekend or longer. Exotic vehicles are lower, wider, and behave much differently than an everyday commuter car, so you’ll want to be sure that the experience is something you’ll enjoy.

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