Vroom at the top
The first cars Nick Theodossi sold cost $199. Today, the hugely respected Melbourne dealer sells the most seductive luxury vehicles on the market
Nick Theodossi started selling cars in 1971 with two Holdens and a Zephyr. Today Nick Theodossi Prestige Cars is Victoria's largest luxury car dealership. Located in North Melbourne, the business' vast showroom with its cool interior of glass and metal, is the perfect environment to show off the sleek seductive automobiles that wait silently for a buyer. In the showroom's elegant cafe, (they do a fine latte here too!) surrounded by some of the most desirable cars that money can buy, Nick shares his story with me.
The son of Sharalambos and Yianoulla, Nick Theodossi was born in Melbourne in 1951, the year after his parents migrated from Morphou in Cyprus. With sister Kitsa, he grew up in the suburb of Coburg. As the first Europeans in their street, the family were known as the Hardys.
To the locals 'Theodossi' was just too strange, too unfamiliar. The neighbours agreed. It was "too hard" - so 'Hardy' it would be. "Go back today to Coburg," says Nick wistfully, "and the old people there would still call us the Hardys." Nick describes the Coburg community he grew up in as, "fantastic. I had a very happy childhood there, and childhood is where it all stems from".
With his mum and dad working at nearby factories, Nick attended the local school until the age of fifteen, at which point he became an apprentice motor mechanic. The young apprentice spent five years working hard, learning what made cars work, and how to fix them when they didn't. "I was always adamant that I wanted to improve myself," says Nick. At 20, empowered by his knowledge of automotive engineering, he decided to leave the workshop behind. "I got sick of getting my hands dirty. I worked for a boss in Preston, then decided to go out on my own and become my own man."
Nick remembers the three cars he bought on the very first day first day he opened his business." I bought an FC and an FB Holden and a Mark 2 Zephyr, and then I put three adverts in the Herald Sun newspaper. I sold them the same day. I thought, 'how easy's this business?' In those days there weren't roadworthys. If they were shiny then they sold. You're talking cars for $199." Just as the wheels began spinning on his business, Nick married Carol.
They were blessed with their first child Dion in 1977. Kayne, Nicholas (junior) and Ebony followed. All four followed in dad's footsteps and became integral to the success of the company. "Where we are today is a tribute to my kids. Dion's 34 he's been here since he was 18. When you look at it the business only got better in the last 15 years. Dion is a buyer, Ebony is in admin, and Nicholas and Cain are salesmen." Nick says that the business of buying and selling luxury cars has got tougher in recent years due to the impact of the Internet.
"The day of the walk-in buyer has gone. 70-80 per cent of our business is repeat and referral. That's what you get over forty years." With buyers in every state, there are some 200 vehicles in stock at any one time. The business turns over some 50 to 60 cars a week split equally between the trade and individual buyers. "You do numbers and the profits will look after themselves," says Nick.
As for his own set of wheels, Nick drives a Mercedes SLS gull-wing, powered by fearsome 6.3 Litre naturally-aspirated engine. He just happens to have an identical model in the showroom - one previous owner with 1800 kilometres on the clock. It's a beautiful machine. What's it like to drive, I ask. "Quick, frightening," says Nick. How fast? "330kms per hour" he says with a grin, before telling me that I just need $450,000 to take it home.
"Could you see yourself in that," Nick asks. "Yes I could" I say, before making my way outside to my ageing Holden Berlina. We can all dream. But then we should all take a leaf out of Nick Theodossi's manual for life; there's little in this world that cannot be achieved when you put your mind to it.
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