IF YOU own a Lamborghini Gallardo or a Ferrari 599, chances are you’re used to getting what you want, when you want, in precisely the right spec, with all the extras you can imagine, safe in the knowledge you can upgrade to an exciting new model whenever the passion wanes. But relationships are nowhere near that straightforward. So a new online dating club has been launched to help lonely supercar owners get to grips with the complex mechanics of intimate personal relations.
Or as Supercardating.com puts it: “Make wealthy dating and social networking more efficient for those [who] share a passion for the supercar lifestyle.” The club, which was launched officially last week (it’s been invitation only up to now), is open to anyone who owns a supercar, as well as anyone interested in the sort of person who owns a supercar. And, apparently, we shouldn’t leap to sexist conclusions, because 20% of the supercar owner-members are women, says founder Sangeeth Segaram, 34, who drives a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 roadster.
Membership of the dating club costs £65 a month or £380 a year for supercar owners (who are asked to provide proof of ownership) and includes exclusive social events and access to the members-only dating and networking site.
“The number of members is rising by about 20%-30% each month,” says Segaram, who was a millionaire at 24, thanks largely to property investments in Canary Wharf, east London (he also runs his family’s hospital business in Malaysia). “There are 400,000 supercar owners in the UK alone and we have a ratio of one supercar owner to seven non-owners, so there’s a potential for more than 3m members.”
You don’t have to own a supercar to join. There is a membership category costing up to £135 a year for people who have a passion for fast metal but not the wherewithal. On the site, these people are dubbed Fine Living Companions. If that has a ring of something you could buy in the kitchenware department of Fortnum & Mason, think again; it refers to people who are keen to meet supercar owners for the purpose of, er, sharing their lifestyle.
If you thought that only confused teenagers based their romantic choices on car ownership (think of the song Summer Nights from the film Grease, when mean-girl Marty snipes at good-girl Sandy — aka Olivia Newton-John — “Like, does he have a car?”) Segaram will put you right. There are plenty of millionaire dating sites, he points out, and his dating service is more subtle and less money-focused than most.
“Instead of dating someone for their bank statement,” he says, “we try to get that common interest between all our members. It’s about sharing a passion, about having something to talk about. And it’s an efficient way to expand your social circle for people who are often very time poor.”
Apart from cars, the website suggests common interests might include “Michelin dining, jet-set holidays, an appreciation for fine art and high-octane experiences”.
Most supercars and high-performance cars qualify for membership: Porsches, Aston Martins, Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis and Nobles, and some BMW, Range Rover and Mercedes models. High-performance Subarus and Mitsubishis are not eligible, however. “What we have found is that members who own these cars tend to have a different type of lifestyle,” says Segaram, diplomatically.
He is keen to allay any suggestion the club is simply a pretext for wealthy men to hook up with ambitious young women. “We have heterosexual and gay members and there are no criteria in terms of looks or age for any of our members.” He also points out that supercar owners still have to go through the messy process of dating and finding out whether a mutual love of expensive metal is enough to make a relationship.
Natalie Parry, who joined the club a few weeks ago, just happens to be a model and actress. No surprise, perhaps, that the club offered her up as a “typical member”. The tall, slim, blonde, twenty-something joined largely for the networking aspect (and because she is a friend of Segaram). She lives in Chelsea, owns a Fiat 500, and would like to buy an Audi R8 one day, or maybe a white Lamborghini, something to stand out from the crowd: “Definitely not a black supercar — what’s the point in that?”
She can see how the club might sound like a gold-diggers’ paradise, but Parry, whose father was successful in dentistry, thinks it’s a misconception: “I would not be interested in that. I’m ambitious and independent. I want the sort of lifestyle my parents have, but I want to earn it myself. I want to buy my own supercar. The club is more about meeting like-minded people. I have quite a nice life in Chelsea and — I’m trying to think how to say this without sounding obnoxious — it’s nice to have people with common interests.”
How does she feel about being called a Fine Living Companion? “I think that’s just the nicest term Sang [Segaram] could come up with to make you feel special when you don’t have a supercar,” she says.
Dr Eoghan Macsweeney joined the club before Christmas, has already been on a couple of dates, and thinks a supercar indicates much more about a person than their bank balance: “Supercar owners tend to be interesting people, fun people. There are lots of wealthy people who don’t own one. A supercar is a totem that shows you enjoy a certain lifestyle and a certain way of socialising.”
Macsweeney is a partner in CityDoc Medical, a private healthcare provider, and owns a bright orange Lamborghini Gallardo. “You have to have a sense of irony to drive one. You can’t be too serious,” he says.
He’s less politically correct about his expectations: “I’m looking for a good-looking girl and if they’re looking for a wealthy guy, that’s OK. Why shouldn’t they want that? Men and women have been playing this game for years — the calling cards have got bigger, that’s all. I’ve seen guys who, let’s just say, if they were in any other walk of life, well, they would find things more challenging socially. But they have a supercar, and the rest to go with it, and they breeze through. As my mother would say, ‘Them’s the breaks, kid.’”