One on One With Chris Pfaff, President & CEO, Pfaff Automotive Partners

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By Lee Bailie

Chris Pfaff, President & CEO of Pfaff Automotive Partners, is a pretty busy guy these days. From a growing portfolio of dealerships (including brands such as Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen and Canada’s only McLaren retailer), to an aftermarket customization division (Pfaff Tuning) and a motorsports division that placed an entry in the 2012 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin (driven by Barrie, Ontario’s Kyle Marcelli), there’s no shortage of items demanding Pfaff’s attention.

Fortunately for us, Pfaff was able to spare a few minutes for PRN Ignition to discuss, among other things, the Canadian launch of McLaren’s MP4-12C Spider, plans for a one-make McLaren road-racing series in North America and a potential successor for the legendary F1.      

PRN Ignition:
What are the expectations for the McLaren MP4-12C Spider in terms of what it will do for the McLaren lineup in Canada?

Pfaff: Traditionally when there’s a spider and a coupe version of the same model, I think the sales break down and you get 70-75% convertible versus coupe. We’ve been very successful with the first coupe this year. We’ve got about 46 so far delivered in Canada, and we think the Spider for next year is going to be even stronger. The car will hit in January, so we’ll have it for the full year next year. It’s going to be a significant addition to the lineup.

PRN Ignition: Will the Spider have a similar production volume to the 12C coupe?

Pfaff: It will be more exclusive. I think the total 12C production next year should be around the 1,200 mark worldwide, so you’ll see probably see about 600-800 Spiders.

PRN Ignition: How many of those do you expect to land in Canada?

Pfaff: I don’t know for sure but I’m guesstimating in and around the 40 to 50 mark next year in Canada.

One on One With Chris Pfaff, President & CEO, Pfaff Automotive Partners
PRN Ignition:
Have any been sold already?

Pfaff: Absolutely. We’ve already had a bunch sold sight unseen. Now we’re waiting to show it to people today and we had some of our clients at the world launch at Pebble Beach (California).

PRN Ignition: How will it be packaged (colours, trims, etc.)?

Pfaff: I’d say there will be one basic trim of the car and then there will be a full colour palette that we offer with the coupe as well. Then, of course, we’ll do anything you want specialization-wise. So, within the standard options there are a many different personalizations you can do, but really we’re open to anything and we’ll try to customize this car to any degree the customer would like.

PRN Ignition: Are there any plans to race the 12C (coupe)?

Pfaff: Absolutely, it’s been up for discussion. I’m on the North American committee for McLaren where we try to envision what we want to do with motorsports in North America. You’ve seen the GT3. We showed a Can-Am GT3 version down at Pebble Beach which is for the track, it’s not street legal. We’re talking about a McLaren GT series, a one-make series. We’re contemplating that right now, but I don’t think we’re ready quite yet for that. We’re also looking at what other racing applications in North American motorsports we can do. I can tell you absolutely we’re going to do it and we want to do it. Pfaff Automotive would definitely like to be part of that as well, so I can tell you we’re very excited about it.

One on One With Chris Pfaff, President & CEO, Pfaff Automotive Partners
PRN Ignition:
So, it’s still a few years away from happening?

Pfaff: I would think we’re a couple of years away. We’re trying to formulate the best way to do it. I’d be very excited to see some professionals, and not just the amateur sort of thing. I’d like to see a mixture of that, really. I think it would bring better attention to the series and would make it more interesting for the marketing partners. So that’s what I’m pushing for, whether I’ll be listened to I don’t know, but I think it’d make sense for us.

PRN Ignition: Presumably the Series would race on some of North America’s iconic road circuits such as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Watkins Glen?

Pfaff: Absolutely. I was at another track event two weeks ago with the car, driving it myself, and I can’t believe the diversity in that vehicle from being very comfortable in city traffic, yet it’s an animal on the track. When I was driving, and I’m old, I can tell you that car was going quickly. So, what we’re doing now is we’re going to track events that other third parties are doing and we’re inviting customers to come on out and experience the car. Kyle (Marcelli, one of Pfaff’s drivers in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada) is taking some people out when he’s available. Jeff Pabst, who’s raced with us, is taking people out, so we’re really excited to show the car on the track.

PRN Ignition: I’m sure the drivers in your stable (Pfaff Automotive) are excited about the prospect of a one-make McLaren series coming to pass.

Pfaff: Can you believe I’d be paying them to do that? (laughs)

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