Omar was a Pepperdine undergraduate who, along with a classmate, had been assigned by their marketing teacher to envision a profitable venture that required no start-up funds. The two came up with a scheme to put supercar customers in touch with sellers willing to fill orders at modest premiums. The teacher liked the idea so much that Omar and his colleague gave it a real-world try. They started phoning Mercedes, Ferrari, and Lamborghini dealers around the country, locating desirable cars that were coming in soon at nonstratospheric prices and then auctioning the slots on eBay. Before the semester ended, they were earning $10,000 to $15,000 a month in commissions. Omar provided references, which checked out, and put me in contact with Wallace, the top salesman at Southern Comfort Motors, thousands of miles from my home in San Francisco, who was offering his first allocation of a 2004 SL55.
Out on the paddock, there was a mad dash to grab the most glamorous-looking AMGs, so I selected a relatively plain-Jane E55 sedan. I'd heard that the first E55s were so fast that AMG had to go back and rework the software in the SLs to restore their status as the quickest in the lineup. Sure enough, out on the track, the E proved to be a wonderful automobile, ludicrously easy to drive fast and blessed with appalling amounts of torque and superb brakes. Turns came up faster than a Wall Street sidewalk viewed by a suicidal jumper, yet the braking points were always well past the final braking signs-all this from the very antithesis of a cop magnet, a car so inconspicuous as to resemble a taxicab. I could appreciate why the E is the top choice of AMG enthusiasts out to get the maximum bang for their bucks.