For better or for worse, Berlin really is becoming a Weltstadt: it’s gradually shedding that “poor but sexy” image the mayor is so proud of. While it’s still decades from turning into New York or Miami in terms of glamour and wealth, demand for ostentatious transport, i.e. limos, is growing steadily.
In 1999, when Berliner Marvin Dahms started “Sage Cars” (Sage is one of the biggest nightlife business holdings in the capital – its assets include a renowned club, a recently opened restaurant in Kreuzberg, the summer attraction known as Funkpark and, oddly, a hospital in Senegal), he was sure that “nobody would want to pay to be driven around.” These days, he owns one of the most exclusive car rental companies in the city.
It all started by chance with a big “guys’ night out”: Dahms wanted to decorate the façade of the club he co-owned with a few limousines. As no one else was interested, he decided to buy some of them. His fleet now runs to 70 cars, some of which are really special – classic German, American and British models from the 1930s, 1950s and 1970s, a genuine cop car and six stretch limos.
But Sage Cars’ services aren’t just for fat cats – although Dahms does have fond memories of a €1000 tip from a Parisian businessman. For up to €100 an hour, you can have a guided tour around the city, routine transport from the airport to the city centre, be taken to a church to get married or celebrate a hen or stag night.
“There are people who rent them for boring purposes, but others do it for fun,” says Dahms. Many of his clients are friends out on the tiles and, as he proudly points out, “Normally, the best part [of the evening] happens in the car.” And whatever goes on in the leather seats of a ‘stretch’ remains there: the discreet and reliable chauffeurs “are part of the party, too”.
Dahms knows what he’s talking about – he says he could write a book about his own crazy chauffeuring adventures. His favourite? One summer’s day a few years ago, he received a call at 7am, asking for a lift.
“You never know what will happen in that job – all you have is a name, a date and an address. And these guys… they wanted to pick up their friend from prison! It was one of the best times I had as a driver. I spent almost the whole day with them. We went out for breakfast, then made a short stop at the pharmacy to buy some Viagra – and then we went to one of the few nice brothels in the city…”
Sage Cars | Brückenstr. 1, Mitte, U-Bhf Heinrich-Heine Str., Tel 030 8057 4911 (Mobile: 0160 6959 206), www.sagecars.de