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South Africa's Upper Class Buying More Luxury Cars

A hostess stands next to a Maserati Quattroporte during the first press day of the 65th Frankfurt Auto Show in Frankfurt, Germany, Sept. 10, 2013.

A hostess stands next to a Maserati Quattroporte during the first press day of the 65th Frankfurt Auto Show in Frankfurt, Germany, Sept. 10, 2013.

This month, Porsche announced that its Middle East/Africa region had a new leading
marketplace: out of the 19 countries in the region, the new leader was not oil-­rich Abu
Dhabi or Dubai, but rather the new luxury-hungry market of South Africa.

During the past few years, Ross Crichton has watched the clientele of his event company Super Car Lifestyle grow. More people choose super cars, such as Ferraris and higher­-end Porsches.

"There definitely is a larger number of people entering into the super car market, even
though the financial situation is not where it should be... Compared to five years ago, Iwould say the jump has been massive," said Crichton.

Since May, 71 new Ferraris, 19 new Maseratis and 1,035 new Porsches have been sold in South Africa, according to the country's automobile manufacturing organization.

The Porsche dealership located north of Johannesburg had the largest square footage of any Porsche center in the world until this year. The dealership topped the company's 19­-country Middle East/Africa region in terms of sales, racking up 20 percent of all sales in the region.

Christo Kruger, public relations manager for Porsche South Africa, said the clientele for these vehicles runs from the upper middle class into the very upper class.

"They are passionate motoring people. The global demographic remains exactly the
same ­ mostly male, 42­45, two kids, family, successful, entrepreneurial, or in a financial position where they manage other people," said Kruger.

Luxury cars also appeal to those who want a vehicle that can do what most can not.

The president of SuperCar Club SA, Nathaniel Nel, has owned Lamborghinis and

"It is amazing. It is a completely different experience than driving any other car. You have just got so much power under your foot... It is just freedom; driving any type of super car is just freedom on the road," said Nel.

South Africa's level of income inequality is among the world's highest. The World
Economic Forum says that the richest 10 percent of the country make more than 51
percent of the country's total income. More than half of the country lives below the poverty line; a vast segment of the country's population that can not afford any car, let alone a super car.

The market for these cars is aimed at the 35,000 or so millionaires in South Africa,
according to New World Wealth.

The demographics of that segment that has changed some, possibly explaining some of the rise in the popularity of super cars.

Crichton said that compared to in the past, he is seeing more black super car owners and more younger buyers.