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Original Issue

Pimp My Rental

WITH HIGH garage fees, arcane parking rules, cavernous potholes and Mad Max traffic, owning a vintage or high-performance car in New York City seems heartbreakingly pointless. That's why they have subways and cabs, right? Well, Classic Car Club Manhattan, which opened in July, offers Gotham gearheads a thrilling alternative to that low-octane existence.

The club, an offshoot of one founded in London 10 years ago, owns, maintains and garages a fleet of 22 exotic sports and luxury cars that members can check out for a day or up to a week--with no mileage restrictions. Have a fancy wedding to go to? Why not arrive in a 1989 Rolls-Royce Corniche II convertible? Leaf peeping in Vermont? You can get there faster in a 550-horsepower 2005 Ford GT or a 1957 Porsche Speedster.

Members receive a yearly point allotment (the $7,000 Silver-level membership comes with 750 points; the $10,500 Gold level with 1,500) and use a portion each time they take out a car, the amount varying depending on the vehicle, the day of the week and the time of year. (Using a 348 GTB Ferrari costs 18 points midweek in winter, 72 on a Saturday.) The club also offers sessions at local tracks, as well as professional instruction.

"A lot of our cars don't go anywhere in particular when they go out," says club director Michael Prichinello, sounding like a proud parent. "The members are just hungry to drive."